Over a year ago we sounded the alarm about Delta Airline's new 'Last Class' category.
It's an ultra-basic fare below the typical coach class. Delta said it was to compete with low cost carriers Spirit and Allegiant.
But these new fares come with new drawbacks - such as banning any ticket changes (even for a fee), not allowing advance seat assignments, denying free upgrades, etc.
We've been closely following this race to the bottom of legacy carriers, incrementally breaking down coach tickets into pieces and creating new streams of monetization. Amenities and services that used to be included in the ticket are now behind a paywall.
Both United and American Airlines will roll out basic economy fares in 2017. So, you'll pay more for the same tickets in two months.
Yes, the kicker is this base-bottom class will cost the same as the current economy fare, and their standard economy fare will go up.
Until now, booking Delta's basic economy Last Class meant no free ticket changes, no advance seat assignments, no upgrades, etc. United matches this, and adding no ticket changes, no upgrades, or Economy Plus seating, no frequent flyer miles, but also no carry-ons!
That's right, they're really doubling down. Your normal carry-on bag is prohibited. Instead, you can only bring one 'personal item', (United says there's an exception for elite members, Star Alliance Gold members, and those with United's co-branded credit card)
How United will enforce the carry-on ban?
Customers of United's basic last class will be put into boarding group 5, (fittingly, the last class to board), and gate agents will inform those passengers they aren't entitled to a carry-on.
If these passengers do have a carry-on, they'll be forced to pay a fee for checking it, unlike other passengers, who can gate-check bags for free.
It's hard to believe United could out-do Delta's Last Class basic economy. Now look for all the major carriers to synchronize their 'economy minus' classes.
The cliched phrase "race to the bottom" is becoming more and more fitting for multiple airlines, but especially when they're collaborating and ramming it down your throat while saying it's an enhancement that customers want.
Yes, people expect something like this when buying Spirit Airline tickets, but not on a legacy carrier.
To think that United's new CEO said they're aiming for better customer service. We think United is going in the wrong direction and taking a dive back to the bottom.
The U.S. Department of Transportation's monthly Air Travel Consumer Report (ATCR) released today states that reporting carriers canceled 0.3 percent of their scheduled domestic flights in September 2016, the lowest for any of the 261 months with comparable records since January 1995.
We are commited to solutions for promoting airline passenger policies that forward first and foremost the safety of all passengers while not imposing unrealistic economic burdens that adversely affect airline profitability or create exhorbitant ticket price increases.
All American air carriers shall abide by the following standards to ensure the safety, security and comfort of their passengers:
Establish procedures to respond to all passenger complaints within 24 hours and with appropriate resolution within 2 weeks.
Notify passengers within ten minutes of a delay of known diversions, delays and cancellations via airport overhead announcement, on aircraft announcement, and posting on airport television monitors.
Establish procedures for returning passengers to terminal gate when delays occur so that no plane sits on the tarmac for longer than three hours without connecting to a gate.
Provide for the essential needs of passengers during air- or ground-based delays of longer than 3 hours, including food, water, sanitary facilities, and access to medical attention.
Provide for the needs of disabled, elderly and special needs passengers by establishing procedures for assisting with the moving and retrieving of baggage, and the moving of passengers from one area of airport to another at all times by airline personnel.
Publish and update monthly on the company’s public web site a list of chronically delayed flights, meaning those flight delayed thirty minutes or more, at least forty percent of the time, during a single month.
Compensate “bumped” passengers or passengers delayed due to flight cancellations or postponements of over 12 hours by refund of 150% of ticket price.
The formal implementation of a Passenger Review Committee, made up of non-airline executives and employees but rather passengers and consumers – that would have the formal ability to review and investigate complaints.
Make lowest fare information, schedules and itineraries, cancellation policies and frequent flyer program requirements available in an easily accessed location and updated in real-time.
Ensure that baggage is handled without delay or injury; if baggage is lost or misplaced, the airline shall notify customer of baggage status within 12 hours and provide compensation equal to current market value of baggage and its contents.
Require that these rights apply equally to all airline code-share partners including international partners.