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We frequently talk about how we can use miles and points to fly ultra luxury premium cabins like First and Business Class all around the world. What we mention a few times is that it is totally okay to fly Economy when it makes sense.

Flying Economy on shorter flights isn’t a big deal, especially if you have an exit or extra legroom seat. Keep in mind that premium cabins on shorter flights usually don’t have lie-flat seats, but rather just a larger and more comfortable recliner seat.

flying Economy to your destination could make sense

flying Economy to your destination could make sense

Economy is a Better Deal

Flying Economy could make sense when it is a much better deal than Business Class – for example, if the cash fare was significantly less expensive or the award ticket was distance-based on a short flight. Usually on flights under 4 hours, I don’t mind flying Economy at all – as long as I have an extra legroom seat.

Many of the wonderful distance-based frequent flyer programs will charge you a price based on the distance you fly, so if you fly a really short distance in Economy, the price will most likely be very attractive. In the case of short flights, it rarely makes sense to pay for a premium cabin unless you value the benefits included with the ticket like a checked bag, for example.

You Don’t Need Premium Benefits

An Economy Class ticket doesn’t include any premium airport benefits, however if you have elite status you will usually have these included anyway – at which point really the only difference would be the actual flight since you would already have lounge access and priority airport services based on your status.

If you don’t have elite status and don’t need benefits like a checked bag or priority boarding and are only traveling with a carry-on, then flying Economy could be the best way to go depending on the flight length and your trip.

No Saver-Level Premium Award Seats?

If there are no saver-level premium award seats available on your flight for travel in First or Business Class, then it does not make sense to pay for a standard award just to fly in the premium cabin – don’t ever pay more miles than you need to just to fly a better cabin, don’t waste your miles.

Since there are more seats in Economy Class, chances are that there will be a saver-level award seat available on your flight and it probably can be booked using a decent amount of miles, in which case, you should go for it.

Remember to check the actual cash prices for your flight and don’t redeem miles or points just to redeem them but rather only if you’re getting a good deal.

When You Can Assign a Premium Seat in Economy

If you’re able to assign yourself a premium seat in Economy such as an extra legroom or exit row seat, then be sure to check if they are available first by doing a dummy booking.

Elite members and customers on select fares can assign these premium seats in Economy Class usually for no additional cost. If an Economy ticket offers the better value and you can get a premium seat, you should absolutely go that route instead of overpaying for a premium cabin.

shorter flights are best in Economy

shorter flights are best in Economy

All in All

Flying Economy Class is worth it sometimes – whether the ticket is a good deal, you can assign a premium seat, or maybe you already have elite status and have the priority airport services included. Whatever the reason, always compare both cabins and decide what will be the better travel option for you – both in terms of comfort and value.

Some flights offer a Premium Economy cabin which can also be a great way to fly since it is priced usually somewhere in between Business and Economy – and usually the cost is closer to Economy. This travel class includes a variety of benefits and a better seat at a lower price than Business Class. Remember to check all available cabins on your flight and the ways to book them – remember to check what a partner airline might charge for the flight instead of booking with the operating airline, as the partner may offer a better value.

Travel Miles 101 has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel Miles 101 and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.