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Nov. 16 , 2016

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. 
Here are FlyersRights’ proposed fixes:
  • Reinstatement of reciprocity rule
  • Full compensation and damages for economic cancellation;
  • Damages for lying about reasons for cancellation;
  • Montreal Convention or EU damages for international trip delays;
  • Ready reserves sufficient to reduce delays and cancellations to acceptable levels;
  • Insurance policies that cover loss of time as well as out of pocket expenses;
  • Half of fine for tarmac delays over 3-4 hrs be paid to passengers instead of government; and
  • Support for passenger hotline enacted in 2012 but never funded up to $10 million
FlyersRights’ proposals have the answers to reduce and deal with cancellations and delays that now affect one out of five flights. Cancellations alone affect seven million passengers per year.
While the DOT issued a press release showing an abnormally low cancellation rate for September of 0.3% – it omits the very high number of cancellations in the high travel summer months. 
The 2016 stats are August 1.4% (ExpressJet 3.7%, Delta 2.0%), July 1.7% (ExpressJet 5.3%, Southwest 3.0%), June 0.9% (ExpressJet 2.8%, Spirit 2.3%).

“This is worth a mention because Warren Buffett only invests in companies with growing profits and large moats against competition,” said Paul Hudson, FlyersRights’ president.

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We have enjoyed many hard-fought victories.

The movement continues, and there is a long road of ahead of us as we continue to stand up for passenger rights with our groundbreaking agenda. 

We must remain vigilant and remember there are still many politicians, trade groups and lobbyists of both parties who want to undermine FlyersRights.

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