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Ritz Carlton Credit Card Discount Air Benefit Books Domestic Basic Economy Tickets?

The Ritz Carlton credit card had an update to its benefits in mid 2016, offering a slew of new perks (and a new $450 price tag). My favorite perk about this credit card is easily the discount air benefit, which offers a $100 discount off two (or more) round trip domestic tickets booked through the Visa Infinite booking portal.

 

But now with the 3 legacy carriers offer no frills economy (no refunds, no cancellations, no seat assignment, etc), are you forced into buying a ticket to a basic economy ticket?

The short answer is – possibly. When I checked with the JP Morgan Concierge, they let me know that the tool is designed to always display the cheapest fare available. And that could mean a basic economy ticket. 

 

I decided to test it out for myself. I typically use Google Flights to scope out ticket pricing, just to give myself an idea of what’s out there, then I hop over to the airline website (or in this case, the Visa Infinite page) to book the ticket.

Booking a flight is simple – once you get past the landing page, which requires you to enter your credit card details – you enter your home airport and destination, as well as the dates you’d like to fly and the website returns a slew of routes and associated prices. It’s basically like booking a flight on any travel website like Ortbiz or Kayak.

Visa Infinite Air BenefitIn this particular case, I decided to look up flights to Savannah, GA. I entered some dates in and took a look the pricing that came back. I fly Delta so I filtered it down for just DL flights.

I thought that $200ish sounds reasonable for a nonstop flight to Savannah. But because I always want to make sure I know what else is out there, I decided to check the Delta page as well. I basically got the same pricing back – $206 each ticket for a Main Cabin ticket. 

So I went back to the Visa Infinite site to check that it was booking the same ticket fare, in this case, “X”. While the Visa Infinite page doesn’t display the fare class, it does list out the type of fare you’re purchasing. As I scrolled down I realized – this was the Basic Economy fare. But that’s where it’s odd – the same price at delta.com was a Main Cabin ticket, meaning I’d be eligible for upgrades, selecting my seat at time of booking, and Sky Priority boarding. Booking a basic economy fare strips the ticket holder of all those benefits (uhm, is that what we’re calling it these days?).

 

The Takeaway

Don’t get me wrong, you’ll still come out on top booking through the Visa Infinite portal (at least in the case above) – after all, you’ll still get $100 off. In this particular instance, booking the main cabin ticket was only about $40 more expensive, so you’d still save yourself some money booking through the Visa Infinite website.

But it is odd that Delta’s website showed a Main Cabin ticket to cost the same as a Basic Economy ticket.

So some key takeaways here:

  • If you are booking through Visa Infinite – make sure you know what type of ticket you’re booking. If you do not want to book a Basic Economy ticket, make sure to select the “Main Cabin” or “Premium Economy” ticket type.
  • It’s worth checking pricing at the Airline’s website – you never know if you’ll find a better (or the same) deal through them
  • If you do accidentally book a Basic Economy ticket, you’ll still have 24 hours to cancel it with no fees or penalties, just like you would any other ticket. You’ll have to go directly through the JP Morgan concierge to cancel your ticket, not through the airline.

Featured image credit: Visa Infinite 

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