Is Flying in Basic Economy Worth It?

Every business traveler needs to take a personal trip now and then. If you've ever thought about flying basic economy to shave some money off your airfare, Hipmunk did the math to see which routes will net consumers the best deals.  

In an ongoing effort to decrease flight search agony while increasing transparency, Hipmunk announced the inclusion of low-cost fare products in its search results in April of last year. Since that time, “basic economy” (Hipmunk labels it basic coach in flight results, as different airlines use different terminology) has become the second-most popular booking option on Hipmunk, comprising six percent of all flight bookings—although coach still commands the lion’s share of flight bookings at 92%.

These reduced basic coach (BE) fares increase the available options for every type of traveler—but they also come with some restrictions, such as being unable to use the overhead bin, an additional fee to bring aboard a carry-on (if you’re allowed to carry-on at all), and not being able to choose your seat.

Hipmunk analyzed six months of booking data for comparable legs of one-way routes and found that travelers can expect to save, on an average, $35 (19%) by booking a basic coach flight rather than a coach flight.

Tack on a $25 carry-on fee, in addition to the other restrictions, and it’s not surprising that for many flyers (92%) booking coach is a more appealing option.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t still get a good deal.

We crunched the numbers and found the top 25 routes with the highest average savings on basic coach flights. Pro Tip: Look for the best deals on basic coach flights out of major U.S. hubs. Chicago O’hare (ORD) offers the most basic economy deals, representing either the departing or arriving airport in nine of the top 25 best deals (BE) routes; followed closely by Newark Liberty (EWR) with eight.

If you’re flying one of these routes, and don’t require the features of a coach/economy flight, it might just be that basic economy is worth it:

Rank Route BE Avg Econ Avg Savings % Diff
1 EWR-LAX $185 $315 $131 -41%
2 EWR-SFO $185 $305 $120 -39%
3 MIA-TPA $76 $185 $109 -59%
4 SFO-EWR $178 $284 $107 -37%
5 LAX-EWR $200 $303 $102 -34%
6 EWR-ORD $114 $210 $95 -45%
7 IAH-MIA $118 $212 $94 -45%
8 EWR-LAS $163 $257 $94 -37%
9 ORD-DFW $85 $177 $92 -52%
10 ORD-IAH $106 $195 $89 -46%
11 BOS-SFO $195 $282 $87 -31%
12 IAH-LAX $99 $184 $84 -46%
13 MIA-IAH $97 $179 $82 -46%
14 DFW-ORD $85 $162 $77 -48%
15 LAS-ORD $70 $148 $77 -52%
16 ORD-EWR $123 $200 $77 -38%
17 DEN-LGA $151 $226 $76 -33%
18 TPA-EWR $146 $221 $75 -34%
19 ORD-SFO $143 $216 $72 -34%
20 SFO-BOS $185 $256 $72 -28%
21 LGA-DEN $155 $226 $71 -31%
22 ORD-SAN $126 $196 $70 -36%
23 DEN-ORD $83 $151 $68 -45%
24 PHX-DEN $77 $145 $68 -47%
25 ATL-LAX $143 $210 $67 -32%

 

This article originally appeared on Hipmunk.com. Visit the Hipmunk Tailwind blog for more travel tips.

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