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Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Arik, who paid extra to get a flight benefit he didn’t need. Here’s what he had to say:

I recently booked a Delta flight and paid for a Main Cabin ticket. I don’t have Delta status and decided this was a better option than Basic Economy so I could avoid sitting in the middle. However, after booking the flight I looked at the seating chart and realized the plane only has two seats on either side. All the seats are window or aisle and I don’t have a preference between the two, so in this situation Basic Economy would have been fine.

I should have just booked the cheaper fare since I would still earn miles, I just wouldn’t be eligible for an upgrade (if I had status) or be able to choose my seat. In the future I’ll be sure to check the layout to see whether there’s a middle seat. Thanks, and I hope this helps other travelers!

Basic economy fares cost less, but they come laden with restrictions on seat selection, baggage allowance, ticket changes and more. That tradeoff may be worthwhile for price-conscious passengers who pack light and don’t care where they sit; as with any fare, the key is to know precisely what you’re getting (and not getting). Arik didn’t need the trimmings of a Main Cabin fare, and the flight experience in basic economy is the same if you have no shot at getting upgraded, so in his case it would have made sense to buy the cheaper ticket. Basic economy is also more palatable if you have a co-branded airline credit card, since your card benefits may compensate for those not included in your fare.

As a general rule, I recommend checking your aircraft layout and in-flight amenities before you buy a ticket. That will help you avoid mistakes like this one, and may also help you steer clear of seats with undesirable features (like limited recline or proximity to lavatories). You can view equipment and seating options during the checkout process, and visit Seatguru for photos and specifications of individual seats. The information there is sometimes outdated, but overall still helpful. If you want the full scoop, track down a flight review for even more details about what you can expect onboard.

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. To thank Arik for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.

Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

Aside from the 75,000 points welcome bonus, Amex recently made huge improvements to the Business Platinum Card, including the fact that you will now earn 50% more points on purchases of $5,000 or more, earn 5x on flights and eligible hotels at and cardholders will receive a $200 airline fee credit each year.

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More Things to Know
  • Welcome Offer: Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points.
  • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year.
  • Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
  • Get one year of Platinum Global Access from WeWork. With this membership, you can access 300+ premium, inspiring workspaces in 75+ cities. To get this exclusive offer, enroll between 2/15/2019 and 12/31/2019.
  • Terms Apply
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.