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Are there really any BIG downsides to basic economy (Saver) on short Q400 flights?

Are there really any BIG downsides to basic economy (Saver) on short Q400 flights?

Old Dec 4, 18, 1:48 pm
  #1  
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Are there really any BIG downsides to basic economy (Saver) on short Q400 flights?

I've been annoyed by the "high" prices between PSC and SEA (especially when compared to SEA to LAX sometimes). These fares always seem to be $80 to $100 one way, for a very short ~45 min flight on a Q400. I normally fly this route just for leisure and usually it's just a same day flight or just an overnight stay. Other then not picking your seat, is there any real downside to these fares when the route is short and all the seats kinda suck (I mean it's a Q400, not like I'm stuck with a middle seat or something).

Are these fares more likely to get bumped compared to a main fare?

Would I still get a free checked bag since I'm an Alaska credit card holder?

Do I even care about the checked bag? Often bags are checked at a la cart on Q400s anyway, I still would have access to that with 1 properly sized carry on, right?

Do you still really earn miles on the saver fares? It says actual miles flown, which I think means it's 1 to 1 and not some 50% earning rate, BUT, flight under 500 miles just get rounded up to 500, do saver fares get 500 miles and count as a segment?

I'm usually really opposed to these fares since they normally only cut $20 to $40 off that you pay back in extra fees, but when not taking a bag or just 1 carry one the fare doesn't seem half bad, especially because round trip now is like $109 after tax!
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Old Dec 4, 18, 1:54 pm
  #2  
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They're not changeable. But if you're not Gold or higher, there's a change fee. If the change fee equals or exceeds the fare, they're essentially throw away if you can't use them anyway. So nothing there.

They're not upgradeable, not an issue on a single cabin plane or for non-Elite.

Bag benefits apply as AS cardholder regardless.

So really it's just seats in your case at this price point. Why pay more to sit a few rows up in the same seat for less than an hour? Even if there are no pre-assignable seats, there are no "bad" seats on a 2-2 configuration. You'll get an aisle or window anyway, so unless you have a strong preference you're willing to back with extra money, you're good with the Basic fare, I would think.
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Old Dec 4, 18, 2:01 pm
  #3  
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Nice! I hate making the 3 to 4 hour drive across the state to Seattle and once you add in fuel and parking it usually comes to the price for a single person to fly anyway.
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Old Dec 4, 18, 2:06 pm
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The biggest downsides are you canít SDC/standby to avoid a trip going sideways and you canít change/cancel for a full wallet credit if Gold or above. You wonít have access to elite seats (particularly the exit rows) but AS screwed up and designated the rows at the back of the Q as saver rows.
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Old Dec 4, 18, 2:12 pm
  #5  
 
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I like the back rows of the Q400 for when they unload with both doors. Savers might win on that one....
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Old Dec 4, 18, 2:26 pm
  #6  
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Originally Posted by williwaw View Post
I like the back rows of the Q400 for when they unload with both doors. Savers might win on that one....
ditto ... and it looks like Main Cabin passengers can also select those seats
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Old Dec 4, 18, 3:28 pm
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And a mile is a mile and a segent is a whole segment!! You also get any Elite bonus you are entitled to.

James
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Old Dec 4, 18, 10:28 pm
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Not sure my corporate travel booking system will allow saver fares, but for locked-in trips I’d book them SEA-PDX in an instant. $130 r/t, even for a same-day return, is cheaper than the typical $160 I’ve been paying for years. As noted, no changes/SDC is the downside.

I nearly always take row 19 or 20 anyway given quick egress - though I’ve seen more frequent front-door-only boarding and deplaning at the SEA C2 gates of late.
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Old Dec 5, 18, 12:00 am
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With basic economy you lose ALL flexibility (the entire ticket is use-it-or-lose-it for the exact flight you booked) and any elite seating advantages (you can only select a seat at the back of the plane and you can't get upgraded to premium or F).

You don't anything else. Miles earned, boarding group, and checked bags remain the same.

IMO the seating restrictions aren't that big of a deal on short flights but the flexibility really is. SDCs aren't worth much on a long flight that only operates 1-2x a day, but they are extremely valuable on a shuttle route that operates 7x per day. If you are flexible, you can often save a lot of money by buying the cheapest ticket of a particular day and SDCing to one at a more convenient time. Also, it can be really useful if you just don't know when you will be ready to leave (eg, if you, are flying in for work, which may run late)
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Old Dec 5, 18, 12:04 pm
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Iím not seeing any benefit to SDC for leisure travel though... usually I book earliest flight out from PSC to SEA and then latest coming back home. I rarely want to end my day early in Seattle, but if I did, I could hang out in the centurion lounge a little (pending its not packed).

Operationally, is there any benefit to the ability to SDC vs IRROPS? Like if a flight is canceled or delayed without a firm estimate, would I be able to SDC to a later (possibly on time) flight before I would be able to get AS to rebook because of the delay/cancel?

Also, hereís a curious question about the seats for saver fares on the Q400... are they assigned at check in (~24 hr before flight time) or at time of booking? Iíve never had status with AS but Iíve OFTEN been able to get row 1-4 on this Q400 route because itís not elite heavy & while those front rows were blacked out at booking (for someone without status) they open up as soon as check in happens. Usually the rear half of the aircraft fills up first and then I just always changed to a front row once they became available to everyone.

So, is there a chance the rear half could fill with ďmain cabinĒ fares (if people want to sit together) and then my saver fare selects a seat a check in and it happens only those front rows are available?

Also, do I have to book with my AS card to have the checked bag fee waived? I would like to book with my platinum card and see if these $48.20 one way fares trigger the airline credit reimbursement :P
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Old Dec 5, 18, 12:19 pm
  #11  
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Originally Posted by acarney View Post
... is there a chance the rear half could fill with “main cabin” fares (if people want to sit together) and then my saver fare selects a seat a check in and it happens only those front rows are available?
I discovered yesterday that any seats designated for Saver fares (turquoise with white "S"; rows 16 and aft on a Q400) were also available as Main Cabin after "upgrading" my dummy booking; I'd guess that means you could get assigned (probably NOT "could select") any available seat at check-in
Originally Posted by acarney View Post
Also, do I have to book with my AS card to have the checked bag fee waived?
a competent counter agent should be able to handle that if you use another form of payment
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Old Dec 5, 18, 12:24 pm
  #12  
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This is the key reason most businesses block BE fares. While I suppose that it doesn't matter on tickets costing < change fee, it can add up for a business over time. These tickets are wholly inflexible other than for involuntary reroutes, e.g. IRROPS. You can lose a whole lot of miniscule savings having to buy a new ticket at walk-up fares.
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Old Dec 5, 18, 12:50 pm
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Originally Posted by acarney View Post
Iím not seeing any benefit to SDC for leisure travel though... usually I book earliest flight out from PSC to SEA and then latest coming back home. I rarely want to end my day early in Seattle, but if I did, I could hang out in the centurion lounge a little (pending its not packed).
.

Here's a real example. I am doing a one night trip (SFO-LAX) Dec 30-31. The cheapest return flight on Dec 31 leaves at 6:30am (I paid $53 or something). The next cheapest flight was $75, and most of the flights I'd actually want to take were in the $100 range.

I don't particularly care if I fly out at 6pm or 7pm or 8pm. I definitely don't want to fly out at 6am though... I want to be asleep in my hotel room at 6am. It's highly unlikely that all of the "convenient" flights sell out that day. So by booking the cheapest flight and SDCing to a more convenient one I've saved myself some money.

It works the other way too. If the cheapest flight had been at 11pm, I could have bought that and then just done same day standby whenever I was ready to leave.

In another thread, someone was talking about an international connection where they were not sure how long customs/immigration would be, and they were connecting to a "shuttle" flight. The solution was to book the last flight of the day and SDC or stand by when they cleared customs. This is relatively safe even with seperate tickets (assuming that you have more than enough time)

In the past, I have often stood by for an earlier LAS-SFO flight when all flights were delayed (and the "earlier" flight ended up departing when my flight was supposed to leave).

So, is there a chance the rear half could fill with ďmain cabinĒ fares (if people want to sit together) and then my saver fare selects a seat a check in and it happens only those front rows are available?
Lol, yes, it's theoretically possible that all the terrible seats get selected by the people who paid extra to select whatever seat they want and you end up with a good seat. Good luck with that.

More likely if you don't select a seat when you book, everyone else does and all the saver-eligible aisle and windows get taken and you end up in a middle seat of the back row (which doesn't recline)

Also, do I have to book with my AS card to have the checked bag fee waived? I would like to book with my platinum card and see if these $48.20 one way fares trigger the airline credit reimbursement :P
No there is no such requirement. Don't you have status though? You get 2 free checked bags with MVP or higher.
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Old Dec 5, 18, 1:16 pm
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Originally Posted by VegasGambler View Post
.

Here's a real example. I am doing a one night trip (SFO-LAX) Dec 30-31. The cheapest return flight on Dec 31 leaves at 6:30am (I paid $53 or something). The next cheapest flight was $75, and most of the flights I'd actually want to take were in the $100 range.

I don't particularly care if I fly out at 6pm or 7pm or 8pm. I definitely don't want to fly out at 6am though... I want to be asleep in my hotel room at 6am. It's highly unlikely that all of the "convenient" flights sell out that day. So by booking the cheapest flight and SDCing to a more convenient one I've saved myself some money.

It works the other way too. If the cheapest flight had been at 11pm, I could have bought that and then just done same day standby whenever I was ready to leave.

In another thread, someone was talking about an international connection where they were not sure how long customs/immigration would be, and they were connecting to a "shuttle" flight. The solution was to book the last flight of the day and SDC or stand by when they cleared customs. This is relatively safe even with seperate tickets (assuming that you have more than enough time)

In the past, I have often stood by for an earlier LAS-SFO flight when all flights were delayed (and the "earlier" flight ended up departing when my flight was supposed to leave).



Lol, yes, it's theoretically possible that all the terrible seats get selected by the people who paid extra to select whatever seat they want and you end up with a good seat. Good luck with that.

More likely if you don't select a seat when you book, everyone else does and all the saver-eligible aisle and windows get taken and you end up in a middle seat of the back row (which doesn't recline)



No there is no such requirement. Don't you have status though? You get 2 free checked bags with MVP or higher.
I don't have status, which maybe that makes the SDC a non-issue.... is that even available to people without status?

I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not with the comment about it being technically possible all the terrible seats are picked by higher paying customers. Just an example flight there is a single aisle seat in row 9, two single window seats in row 10, a single aisle seat in row 13, a pair of seats in row 16 and 20, and a single window seat in row 18. So a total of 9 seats still available for main fares and lower (for people without status and not buying refundable). So if 9 more people buy this flight not paying for refundable or don't have status, then from row 9 and back the flight would be FULL. However, from row 1 to 8, only TWO seats are selected so far, the rest are open. If the saver fares don't select seats at time of booking and instead the system automatically selects your seats when you check in (T-24 hr) then again if 9 more people book this flight before check in time there would be a rather good chance you're somewhere in rows 1-8 with your saver fare. However, if the saver fare automatically selects your seat when you hit "buy" on the ticket, you'll be last couple rows for sure. Most these Q400 flights from PSC are like this, for whatever reason this is a solid route but not heavy on elites or refundable fares. Usually the front 8 rows are the last to fill up, and often there are at least a handful (~8 seats) available at check in time in the very first few rows.

Also, this being a ~45 minute Q400 flight, there are no middle seats.... so even if the last row doesn't recline, 45 minutes isn't too long and it would be a window or aisle.
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Old Dec 5, 18, 1:37 pm
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Originally Posted by acarney View Post
I don't have status, which maybe that makes the SDC a non-issue.... is that even available to people without status?
SDCs are available to everyone. They are $50, except that several short "shuttle" routes are $25. The fee is waived of you have gold or higher.

The advantage here is that if the flight that you want (last flight in your case) is much more expensive than the cheapest flight is the day, you can save money by buying the cheap one and SDCing to the one you want. Note that SDC is available when you can check in for your scheduled flight. So if you buy a 6am flight, you can check in and SDC to an 11pm flight at 6am the previous day. All that you need is for that 11pm flight to have at least one seat for sale in the same cabin that you purchased. At T-41hr, this is quite likely for most routes on most days.

Also, this being a ~45 minute Q400 flight, there are no middle seats.... so even if the last row doesn't recline, 45 minutes isn't too long and it would be a window or aisle.
Sure, that's different. If there are no middle seats it's less important.

But note that non-savers can eventually select any seat (even one that they would have had to pay for, or required elite status for, earlier). Non-saver elites will move into premium seats when their upgrade windows open. The seat map will look very different by the time you get assigned a seat.

On this flight it sounds like it doesn't really matter where you sit though. I wouldn't risk this on a 737 or Airbus.

I'm actually surprised that AS will assign you a seat at T-24. They should really do it at the gate, once all the main fares have gotten the better seats.
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