The cheapest tickets on United are a worse value than similar fares on Delta and Southwest (especially) but even American too. Right now most passengers aren’t well-informed and disproportionately book through sites like Expedia – and as a result don’t know that they’re getting less value, because these sites don’t tell them. Online booking sites don’t serve the people who are ostensibly their customers.
Search Results for "basic economy".
United announced an end to change fees on most domestic tickets. American matched in less than a day, including more destinations. They’re extending change fee waivers on international, basic economy, and award tickets to the end of the year. And they’re letting Basic Economy customers have elite benefits again, too.
At the end of May things were looking really good for summer travel, and American tried to place limits on its change fee waivers. Since the beginning of the pandemic airlines have allowed a change fee waiver on ticket purchases, so that customers faced with uncertainty would have greater comfort buying travel.
As forward bookings have softened, though, and competitors haven’t followed American’s lead in restoring the ‘no changes’ rule to Basic Economy fares American too has backed off.
I do not see any real reason to stay way from Basic Economy fares at this point, unless the buy up to regular economy is very small. It largely is a buy up for the possibility of an upgrade and more credit towards re-earning elite status, which has been less likely and less valuable in recent years. And that means, effectively, the end of basic economy as a pricing strategy.
Southwest though has a long history of profits and margins that have eluded much of the industry, and they haven’t gone down the same fees and restrictions rabbit hole. They are the largest domestic airline in the country. They do not have change fees or checked bag fees (for up to 2 bags per passenger). They don’t have seat fees, without assigned seats, but they do charge to be at the front of the boarding queue which means earlier dibs at seat selection.
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Basic Economy holds less potential for Southwest Airlines than it does for major carriers, at least while they lack pre-assigned seating.
The value in basic economy is less the $20 each way buy up they might charge leisure travelers, and more the way it is used to segment business travelers to keep them buying higher fares.
In order to get value out of basic economy Southwest would have to assign such customers the last boarding position, so that basic economy customers get the worst seats, otherwise there’ll be little reason not to buy the fares and pay for more expensive fares instead.
American is testing what happens when they eliminate the biggest remaining restriction on Basic Economy fares, the inability to select seats at time of booking.
If American does this they’ll pick up more seat selection revenue, fewer customers will be chased away, but much of the encouragement to buy a more expensive coach fare will be lost. Presumably this test allows American to see which factors are greatest – to see whether Basic Economy is really costing them money as currently conceived.
Airlines don’t do enough to clean planes between flights. I feel especially bad for the cleaners who have to deal with the mess passengers leave behind.
When a customer is faced with a seat that hasn’t been properly cleaned, and can’t be prior to takeoff, I view the seat as inoperative or out of service — if the airline can’t move them, it’s tantamount to an involuntary denied boarding. Cash compensation should be due.
American already eliminated their rule that basic economy passengers couldn’t bring on a full sized carry on bag. Now they’re making it easier for passengers on basic economy fares to get advance seat assignments – allowing paid seats 7 days prior to travel. And with bigger overhead bins, boarding last isn’t even a big deal anymore either.