Recently a reader pointed out a "flaw" with RBC Rewards. After they redeemed an Economy class flight with Porter Airlines a surprise awaited them at the airport.
Porter Airlines Basic Fare
Like any airline Porter offers different fare classes that target different traveler profiles. These booking fares are:
Each fare features "benefits" and limitations. However some fares present no benefits whatsoever. Actually, one fare presents a significant limitation particularly when redeeming a reward flight using RBC Rewards.
The Basic Fare features these elements:
- No change permitted (no change or cancellations);
- No carry-on bag permitted***;
- Not eligible for electronic boarding pass;
- Checked bag and seat selection for a fee;
On the one hand, this fare has only constraints and limitations. Furthermore, my eye stuck at point 2: No carry-on bag permitted. That for me is a quite harsh.
The problem lies at the time of the reward booking. It seems that RBC Rewards will book you by default on that Basic Fare. A lot were unaware of that and ended up at the airport with a baggage they had to check for CAD37.50 (per baggage, per way). That's hard pill to swallow.
There is a way to avoid that but you need to have VIPorter Priority status. That's the highest elite status level and applies only to a small minority of travelers.
As Porter's network offers a good alternative to Air Canada/United or AA, we need to wave a red flag on the Basic fare.
Make sure you always verify the booking fare (whether reward or paid booking). The Basic fare trend has reached international travel out of Canada. Transat and Air Canada have introduced Basic fares that don't include checked luggage but do include a carry-on piece.
Although RBC Rewards has its forte (transferring to Avios), we will see more of these un-bundled fares. Therefore you should always do your gut check and be aware of what you are booking. This also applies to Aeroplan and British Airways Executive Club.