I flew basic economy on Delta Air Lines recently. My flight got canceled, but the airline’s customer service proved to be truly impressive in stark contrast to my colleague’s recent experience on an ultra-low-cost carrier.
American, Delta, and United introduced basic economy to compete against price competition from low-cost airlines.
Basic economy fares were widely derided when it first debuted in 2016.
I usually avoid basic economy like the plague. The claustrophobic flyer in me doesn’t like middle seats. Since traveling on a basic economy ticket precludes you from pre-selecting seats, it’s usually a no-go for me.
However, I decided to take the plunge and go Delta basic economy for a recent trip to Florida. These flights were operated on a 76-seat regional jets with four-seats per row. Which means no middles seats!
Here’s why there is basic economy
There have been few developments in the airline industry as universally derided as basic economy on American, Delta, and United. For America’s three legacy airlines, the premise for basic economy is very simple; offer a slightly de-contented product at a price point on par with ultra-low-cost carriers (ULCCs) like Spirit or Frontier. It’s a product that not only keeps the ULCCs from infringing on their turf, it does the job without sacrificing the profitability of its traditional economy class offering.
“If we don’t match the lowest fare in a marketplace, we found that we’ll lose around 20% of our customers over time,” American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said at the Airlines for America Summit on Wednesday.
Basic economy is targeted at a specific band of value-conscious customers for whom price is king. In exchange for super low prices, passengers give up the ability to board the aircraft early, pre-select seats, have free carry-on bags, and enjoy free upgrades to premium cabins. On the upside, once onboard, basic economy passengers enjoy the same services and amenities as everyone else in the economy cabin.
“It’s not for everyone,” United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz told Business Insider in a 2017 interview. “It’s the economics of matching and competing in markets where the low-cost carriers are offering this type of basic-economy service.”
Unfortunately, many consumers didn’t quite see it that way. For a lot of us travelers, basic economy felt like an insult; an example of greedy airlines squeezing every remaining drop of blood left in its price-conscious customer base in form of cramped middle seats and carry-on bag restrictions.
Why basic economy works for me
For me, the business argument for basic economy makes perfect sense. However, I have always been a bit dubious on how the carriers would execute this fare class.
Unfortunately, my basic economy didn’t go quite as planned.
It’s 1 PM on the Friday before Labor Day weekend. Six hours before my flight out of JFK International was set to take off, I get the text every traveler dreads. Delta Air Lines had canceled my flight. Good …read more
Source:: Business Insider – Finance