When booking business travel, not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to fly up the front. In fact, a majority of our travellers find themselves in Economy class more often than not....but even Economy class is now layered with a variety of different fare classes. Our Canadian airlines offer at least three different economy fares, all with various perks or limitations. With that much choice, it can be confusing to decide which fare is right for you, which is why we’re here to walk you through each one.
If your budget is super tight, then we would suggest buying another ticket on a different date rather than choosing a basic economy fare. These fares are certainly the cheapest but they are simply not designed for business travellers as they are extremely restrictive. In Canada, Air Canada and WestJet will allow carry-on baggage regardless of the fare (at a fee), however, others like Porter will only allow a personal item when purchasing the lowest fare. Other restrictions include the inability to pick your seat, or a higher fee to do so, no checked baggage and no ability to change your itinerary at all - not even at a cost. Fares are completely non-refundable and can’t be used as credit for future travel either. Also, if you collect frequent flyer points, basic fares rarely include any point collection. Lastly, if you purchase a basic fare, you'll be boarding in Zone 6 which means the chances of getting any carry on item in the overhead bin are next to nil. In short, we don't recommend basic economy on any airline.
With a standard economy fare, more choices become available. Changes can be made on itineraries for a fee, some airlines will offer same-day standby for free, same-day change for a fee or free, seats booked for a nominal price and, passengers are able to bring a personal and carry on item. For those trying to reach status on an airline, miles can be earned but usually it's only a percentage of the full amount.
Flex is the next option up and usually what we suggest to our travellers if their company's policy will allow it. With a flex fare, seat selection is included so you lower your chances of the middle seat, changes can be made for a lower fee (or on some airlines, changes can also be free) and standby is usually available for free for same-day flight changes. On top of all this, some airlines include checked luggage in the ticket price. If you’re reaching for airline status to make your business travel even more seamless, this is the fare to splurge on as you’ll receive 100% of the miles you’ve flown and you'll hit that next tier quicker.
This is just a quick overview but we're happy to go into greater detail at any time. Sandy Pineau, one of our Travel Managers in YVR, makes the following suggestion: "I avoid Basic fares at all costs....in fact, I never put my clients on a Basic fare because they're just too restrictive. Most travellers are booked in Standard but I also have a lot of clients who I book in Flex or above. Certain travellers have a higher need for last-minute changes so Flex fares make more sense. Plus, Flex fares also help to keep a passenger's airline status which is crucial. The sooner they get to a higher level of Altitude or WestJet Rewards, the more comfortable they'll be on their future flights."
When booking with Corporate Traveller, choosing your fare of class is one less thing to worry about, as your dedicated Travel Manager will book the right one for you as designated by your travel policy – nevertheless, it never hurts to know the difference in case you decide to upgrade and flex.