Consumers’ Corner # 8

New “basic economy” fare
lowers cost and convenience


Making airline reservations after March 1?

Then be sure you understand the new “basic economy” fares Delta, United and American Airlines are offering.

Otherwise, your trip could turn out to be a real bummer, one that’s much more expensive than you anticipated.

Designed to compete with low-cost carriers like Spirit – who charges fees for just about everything – the new fares come with major drawbacks (and fees) you should know about.

For example, American Airlines, Philadelphia’s largest carrier, which flies more than nine times as many passengers as number two carrier, Southwest Airlines, will offer no-frills ticket on 10 routes that compete with low-cost carriers, starting March 1, 2017.

With this no-frills fare:

  • You get American Airlines’ lowest cost
  • You are limited to just one small carry-on that must go under your seat
  • You cannot bring a larger carry-on and cannot use the luggage bin
  • You cannot select your seat (unless you pay an extra fee), so families cannot sit together. Seats are assigned at check-in.
  • You board last
  • You must pay a $25 “gate fee” if you bring a larger carry-on bag to the gate to have it checked. (That’s in addition to the regular checked baggage fee, usually $25 for the first bag.)

American Airlines does say, “You’ll still get a comfortable seat in the Main Cabin and enjoy free snacks, soft drinks and inflight entertainment.”

The Bottom Line: As Scott McCartny, who writes “The Middle Seat” column for the Wall Street Journal explains, “the lowest price for many flights often won’t be the best price for many travelers. You’ll have to shop more carefully to avoid getting burned by fees and restrictions.”

So check your carrier for the latest information on these fares and fees.

American starts offering its Basic Economy Fare on these flights March 1:

  • New Orleans (MSY) – Philadelphia (PHL)
  • Orlando (MCO) – Charlotte (CLT)
  • Charlotte (CLT) – Philadelphia (PHL)
  • Miami (MIA) – Philadelphia (PHL)
  • Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) – Philadelphia (PHL)
  • Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) – Tampa (TPA)
  • Baltimore-Washington (BWI) – Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW)
  • Miami (MIA) – Tampa (TPA)
  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL) – Philadelphia (PHL)
  • Miami (MIA) – New Orleans (MSY)

Change your smoke detector
batteries on March 12!

Daylight savings time, which begins Sunday, March 12, is a great time to change your smoke detector batteries.

Why? It’s an easy-to-remember date to do something important for your family’s safety. And you can do it again when we switch back to standard time on November 5, so your batteries stay fresh.

Almost half of Philadelphia’s fire deaths in 2014 were in properties that had no smoke alarms, were missing batteries or inoperable.

Protect the people in your house, and give them the best possible chance to get out alive by replacing smoke detector batteries.

And if you don’t have carbon monoxide detectors in your home, install them outside each sleeping area, too.

Heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel can be sources of carbon monoxide, called the silent killer, because it is odorless and colorless.

You’ll all sleep better at night.

Philly Fun Fact

 An early Philadelphia map by surveyor Thomas Holmes included streets named after prominent English settlers. But William Penn objected, because it was un-Quakerly to memorialize men. So he numbered the north-south streets and renamed east-west streets after trees and plants that grew “spontaneously in his colony.



“Orlando International Airport” flickr photo by Rusty Clark ~ 100K Photos shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license


Jim Murphy is a direct marketing copywriter who has run his own consulting business since 2004. For nine years, he wrote and edited “Choices,” an award-winning credit union magazine with a circulation of 80,000. He also is a certified member of the Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides.

Any comments made are Jim’s opinion, and not necessarily those of the Old Pine Community Center.





Our awesome programs are only possible with your generous help!