Booking flights via the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal just got more convenient. You can now exclude restrictive Basic Economy fares from your search. This is welcome feature to the site.
A great feature of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is the ability to pay for airfare using points worth 1.5 cents per point. A $300 flight would only cost 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points. The downside was occasionally having no choice other than Basic Economy. Why is that such a downside?
Basic Economy is a fare class offered by Delta, American and United in what they claim is their effort to compete with low cost carriers like Spirit and Frontier. Others would say it’s a way for them to raise prices. I’ll leave that for the more traditional travel bloggers to debate.
With Basic Economy you don’t sit in a different section of the plane like you would with Premium Economy. Instead, it’s a fare class that comes with many restrictions such as: no checked baggage, no seat selection, no overhead bin access and late boarding. For many travelers, these are non-starters. Personally, I like to reserve seats close together when I travel with my family.
Unfortunately, Chase card holders looking to book using Ultimate Rewards points were forced into Basic Economy for flights where that fare class was offered. The only alternative was to book premium class seats, which could be cost prohibitive, or call Chase’s travel hotline, which wasn’t always successful. Oftentimes, their reps couldn’t access regular economy fares either.
Now, on the screen where you choose your flights, you have the ability to exclude Basic Economy fares from the search. If you travel with family or companions who prefer to sit together, or if you need the extra carry-on space, this is a great additional feature.
Booking Regular Economy
As an example, I was searching for flights from New York (LGA) to Fort Myers, FL (RSW) for a long weekend in January. Here’s what turned up:
These Delta flights have the following restrictions:
In the past, I’d have no way to purchase a regular economy fare on this flight using Ultimate Rewards points without calling. Now, I click on the “Exclude Basic Economy Fares” link and I see the following:
The fare is $30 (or 2,000 points) higher per person. But this is the fare class I would want to purchase virtually every time. I’m very happy to be able to do this online now, without potentially long hold times on the phone.
Have you ever been stuck with Basic Economy fares using Chase points? Let me know in the comments below.