So What’s the Deal with these Base Fare Airlines?!
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is…right?! Well, not exactly! I find myself on an airplane…ALL THE TIME! And not for business, it’s all personal, so I am left to pay my own way. If you travel a lot for business, and the company is paying, I would point you away from these discounted flights…BUT, if you are like me, and love to travel, or have to travel a lot…these base fare airlines may just be the perfect thing for you!
To be completely honest, I have a love/hate relationship with these airlines.
My LOVE relationship:
I love them because they are SUPER cheap! And I mean CHHHEEEAAAAAPPP!! This last fall, I flew from Los Angeles (LAX) to Chicago (ORD) for less than $20 one way!! Say what?! I know…mic drop!
The base fare of the ticket was a glorious 83 CENTS!! And with government taxes and fees, it came out to be $19.10…seriously! Take a look…
Now this is the first and only time I have found flights that low, but the average flights I find from LA to Chicago are around $50 one way. $100 for a roundtrip flight across the country?! Too good to be true, right?
Yes, and no. These flights really are that low, and you can really make it to your destination for that price. But with these base fare airlines…airlines like Spirit, Frontier, Wow, etc. …you are paying for your flight there and a small personal item, and that is it. You will pay extra for everything else….and I mean everything. From water, to picking your seat…no free pretzels, or carry on bag…you will pay extra for everything that you want. This can be good and bad. I actually dont have a problem with it, because I make sure to beat those prices and only pay for my base fare and never anything else.
We give away all those secrets in our post: How to Travel with a Discount Airfare and Not Pay More
Giving away all our cheap flight secrets!
So what else are you giving up if you don’t end up paying more?
On these Base Fare Airlines, you kind of give up comfort. The seats tend to be closer together (i.e. less leg room), they are actually thinner than most, the tray table can even be tiny, and on some planes, you dont even get an actual pocket in the seat in front of you. The armrests are tiny, the headrests dont have cushions….it really just a seat with absolutely no frills.
There is NO entertainment.
A 4 hour flight? "No problem, I’ll just watch 2 of their movies, and we’ll be there!”
NOPE! No entertainment.
"That’s cool, I’ll just plug in and listen to the radio music they have in between the seats?" Uh..nada!
“Sky Mall magazine?”
Not even close. The only reading material they typically have for you is the safety instruction card, and a list of what you can buy for food and drink.
NO FOOD AND DRINK…INCLUDING WATER
Pretty straight forward…you will pay for any food or drink you may want…including water.
Does that deter me from flying with them? It might…until I see the flight prices, and then I’m right back on a Base Fare Airline flying cross-country for less than a tank of gas!!
Here’s another post for you to check out: Things to Pack in a Travel Bag
Now the HATE Part of the RELATIONSHIP
I was flying with these airlines a lot last year…and almost EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I flew with them…there would be a flight delay. Seriously, every time! I was frustrated, and each time I vowed to myself, never again… $46 flight….and we’re back!
The awesome thing about these airlines though, is I have found that this year, they were SO MUCH better with their delays! And to be honest, I booked plenty of flights with other airlines, only to be delayed with them as well. I understand that there are delayed, and a lot of the times they are out of the airlines hands, but last year, I swear it was always something that seemed like it could have been avoided. But the past 15-20 flights I have taken with these airlines, I have maybe been delayed twice. And each time I have received a voucher for future flights, and it really didn't screw up my plans too bad.
ONE MORE THING YOU MAY BE ASKING
Are these planes super old and thats why they are so cheap? And the answer is, not at all. Many of their airplanes are actually brand new! For the flights I have been on, there was rarely ever an issue with a delay due to safety, and I never felt like I was unsafe in any of their airplanes. Through turbulence, and all around the country, they do have good and big airplanes that are safe of course!