We have been talking a lot about basic economy to Hawaii and whether or not that’s a good thing for most travelers. The latest changes in basic economy rules from Alaska Airlines beg the question of whether or not their latest update is good for those flying to Hawaii. And the answer may surprise you for a change. Also, to see the whole landscape related to basic economy, read Think Basic Economy To Hawaii Is For You? Maybe Not!
Basic Economy is the airlines’ invention to offer highly restrictive airfares that play well on sales and search results, hopefully leading to upgrades that bring more money to the airline. But these more affordable airfares have significant restrictions, fewer perks, and some downright issues. It’s worth noting that the difference between Alaska’s basic economy and full-fare economy remains $30-$40 on Hawaii flights. However, we found today that the difference can be huge on Hawaiian Airlines.
This week Alaska Airlines has implemented changes that will likely play well for most but not all Hawaii travelers. On the negative side, these cheapest fares will, according to Akaska, “now earn 70% fewer redeemable Alaska MileagePlan miles and 70% fewer Elite-Qualifying Miles. The new rules are for tickets purchased since May 22 for flights after July 19, 2023.
Credit on canceled booking for Alaska Saver fares.
Let’s say you purchased a flight to Hawaii and have to cancel at least 14 days before travel. Now, for the first time, you will receive a travel wallet credit of 50% of the purchase price and a 100% refund of taxes and fees. That isn’t bad for a ticket that costs significantly less than a full-fare economy ticket, to begin with. And this is the first time we have seen this type of offer.
In addition, and for what it is worth, those fares will now be eligible for complimentary upgrades for Alaska’s frequent flyers. However, that’s only true for the same day of travel, where, in most cases on Hawaii flights, all upgrade options will already have been taken. This was, however, not previously offered.
Which Hawaii travelers is this good for?
It is clearly going to benefit those who have to change plans and those not focused on mileage accural. On the other hand, for any regular Alaska customers, the inability to earn as many miles as before. That will be mitigated by the slim chance of obtaining an upgrade should one occur at the last minute. Those upgrades can come in complimentary or paid ones, depending on what becomes available. Upgrades for basic economy will, of course, be at the bottom of the upgrade list.
Alaska does assure family seating in basic economy, to a greater degree than on some other airlines.