Each ticket an airline issue is governed by two key things. Fare conditions and the airline’s standard conditions of carriage. Remember an airline ticket is like a contract between the airline and yourself. I discussed why this concept is important in my previous article – why you can’t book more than a year in advance. These conditions are like the contract terms and conditions. They govern what you can and cannot do within the bounds of the ticket you have purchased. Each ticket is not created equally. In fact, on any given flight there are usually dozens of different fare conditions in play. It’s not entirely unreasonable for every single passenger to have a different set of rules for their ticket. Airline ticketing is so complex, there are books written on the subject!
However complex, it may be, this is an important concept to understand though. Let’s say you have the option of buying a cash ticket in Premium Economy or a points ticket in the same cabin. Which is best? There is no one size fit’s all answer here. First, you need to understand the intrinsic value of both from a monetary point of view. In addition to this, how do the fare conditions of each ticket compare? Are they equal? Spoiler alert – they’re almost never equal.
Here are some key factors that you should understand about your ticket – no matter what type it is.
The cheapest cash tickets often have zero flexibility allowed. Once you buy the ticket, that’s it, you must take the flights as specified or you forfeit the entire fare. The tradeoff you make is the price to flexibility. This works fine for a lot of situations, i.e. holidays and business trips that are absolutely certain to happen. If there is any risk at all that your plans may change, you have to factor in an element of flexibility.
All but the most expensive cash tickets often do not allow for refunds. If you want a cash ticket that allows for a full refund, you’re in for an eye-watering bill for a long haul flight. Often these fares are fully flexible and fully refundable. They’re designed for travellers who need extra flexibility. They are often referred to as “full fare” tickets. The downside is they are expensive, but you are often rewarded with extra perks beyond the refund-ability aspect, like additional points & flexibility.
More often than not, the lowest priced cash tickets are not upgradable. So if you want an upgradable fare you often have to pay extra. How much extra you pay depends. How long is a piece of string? Whether it’s even worth it to pay the extra amount is also a big question. That often depends on how likely it is that an upgrade may become available. Are there any other benefits attached and is the extra money worth the potential upside for you?
These three factors, as well as others, are key when comparing your options.
The secret benefit of points ticket’s that a lot of people do not know is that the three factors above are often included by default. These tickets are incredibly powerful (if you can snag one) and sometimes taking the points ticket is a far better choice than cash.
Need a hand planning a future trip? We can compare your best options impartially, so you can enjoy your premium travel knowing you got a good deal.