Delta, United, and American Airlines add Basic Economy: a step below Economy
I know what you’re thinking… there is actually a step below Economy Class? For years we have heard excuses as to why airfare is so insanely expensive. First it was the cost of oil, but ever since oil prices have tanked they have resorted to claiming that it’s because reserving a place at airport terminals is too expensive. Their excuses for raising the price of airfare while reducing the quality of the experience are endless, and the only people reaping the benefits are the shareholders in the major airlines.
Economy or “Coach” Class is drudgery for anyone with a back injury, above five feet tall, that isn’t missing their lower extremities, and for those of us with ears. Upgrades to first class at the airport terminal before boarding used to be only $50, but they have stopped offering those as well. They’d rather have the seat go empty than let someone sit comfortably.
The only thing I can see airlines doing next is making you pay per ass-cheek and weighing them upon arrival.
How Does Basic Economy Class Effect You?
So what dignity could the possibly strip from Economy Class to create Basic Economy? The unfortunate souls seated in Basic Economy Class will have just enough legroom to comfortably accommodate a quadriplegic. In addition, you’ll be sitting in an even smaller seat, so the fat rolls of your pleasantly plump neighbor on the plane will not just absorb the arm rest, but also fold over it into your designated space.
Intended for frugal travelers, “Basic Economy” strips you of the very few remaining comforts in return for a slightly reduced price on your ticket. Not to mention that it’s seen as an upgrade to want to fly in Economy class.
My mother always told me not to take anything for granted, but I didn’t think she was talking about having to pay extra to sit in an emergency exit row… where you pay extra to take on more responsibility should the airplane crash.
Additionally, you can no longer reserve a seat when booking a flight with Basic Economy, guaranteeing you a spot right next to the bathrooms in the last row. You also have no way of sitting next to those you’re traveling with, since you cannot pick spots next to each other on the airplane. Passengers aboard Basic Economy forfeit the right to upgrade their seats and are unable to to change or cancel their reservations more than 24 hours after booking them.
Delta, United, and American Airlines, are making basic economy so unpleasant that people will pay extra to “upgrade” to standard economy class. When you try to book a reservation on Delta’s basic economy, a screen pops up warning you of all the reasons you should upgrade and won’t close until you check a box stating “I agree to the restrictions”. They mine as well have it say, “I agree, I am seen as a peasant in your eyes.”
The Economist summed up the press coverage:
Press coverage of the new fare class hasn’t been kind. Time called it “worse than any low-fare carrier option”. Forbes warned that passengers “may soon be crying foul”. A writer for the Star Tribune of Minneapolis complained, “I felt more like I was being made to pay for the privilege of selecting a seat than being offered a way to save.”
So why are the big airlines emulating their cheaper, crappier competitors such as Spirit and Frontier? Obviously because those airlines are making a killing, despite passenger dissatisfaction and complaints.
By purchasing tickets through the budget airlines, you have told the big airlines that they can take away every comfort offered and you’re totally willing to suffer through all the discomforts and inconveniences for the sake of saving a buck.
America’s big airlines are like drug dealers, they are just meeting the demand that the public has expressed a demand for.