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No Overhead

January 25, 2017

“The idea is to give customers a choice in the kind of ticket they want to purchase.”  

                                                                                                       – American Airlines press release

“Customers have told us that they want more choice – and Basic Economy delivers just that,” Julia Haywood, Executive VP at United said. “By offering low fares while also offering the experience of traveling on our outstanding network, with a variety of onboard amenities and great customer service, we are giving our customers an additional travel option from what United offers today.”  

(Shortly after making this statement, Haywood leaves United, after a tenure of only five months.)

“We’re providing Delta customers with a thoughtful, well-defined spectrum of options as they make decisions about travel,” said Glen Hauenstein, Delta’s executive vice president and chief revenue officer.
Delta Air Lines is redefining the products it offers customers to further distinguish the choices available to them. – Delta press release

You see, American, United and Delta say you should be thanking them for all the freedom they’re offering you with so many new choices!

Gee, thanks guys. 

Trend That’s Sweeping The Industry

Last week the third Domino fell – American announced that it would join its ‘competitors’, United and Delta, and start selling Basic Economy fares next month.

The terms are basically the same – that is, last to board and not being allowed to use the overhead bins. 

The NYTimes wrote this week that it’s business travelers who are really suffering with this new airfare, as companies usually require their staff to use the lowest airfare available for travel.

Taking Economy Class To A New Low

What is Basic Economy? It’s a bare-bones ticket that allows no choice in seat assignment, means last to board, no stowing a carry-on bag in the overhead bin and usually no frequent-flier miles.

All three majors allow one small ‘personal item’ that must go underneath the seat. American and United prohibit use of the overhead bin. However, Delta’s current policy allows for one personal item and one complimentary carry-on bag. 

United and American’s Basic Economy fares will begin next month, but Delta’s is already up and running. It was the first legacy carrier in the US to adopt a Basic Economy fare, in 2012.  

You may be asking, how can they increase income by adding a cheaper ticket tier?  

The airlines boast that they expect to add billions to their annual operating income with Basic Economy fares, because customers often give in, or give up, and just fork over more money to check luggage and to avoid ‘misery class’.

Why do we have this sneaking suspicion that the lowest priced ticket isn’t actually going to go down? Why do we suspect the cost of the cheapest ticket will remain the same and the cost of all of the others will go up?

Right, this is no discount. it means everyone’s normal price is about to go up. So, let’s call it what it is; another money grab.

The Labor Day Mattress Sale Approach

What’s next? “Would you like to upgrade to WingSeat Premium* Class?”

(*Seat belts free with Premium package. Goggles and bird shield available for additional fee.)

One reader compared it to:

Hamburger: $9
Cheeseburger: $10
Customer: “$1 for a slice of cheese, that’s insane!”
Hamburger: $10
Cheeseburger: $10
Customer: “Free cheese!”

But how do they police it? Do they stand guard next to the overhead bin and demand to see your ticket?  What’s to stop someone from storing their carry-on in the overhead bin just to stick it to United? 


Just kidding. Here is an exclusive look at how United plans to handle the situation -that other airlines will likely copy:

(if you cannot see the below graphic, please click HERE

A Message from FlyersRights’ president:
Getty Images

In his inauguration speech Friday, President Trump said: “We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation.”

The US infrastructure has aged, and not kept up with new technology and much of the developed and developing nations, especially in Asian countries like Japan and China. 
No new major airports have been built since 1980. High speed rail technology was pioneered in the US but perfected and built in Europe, Japan and China, not here. 
AMTRAK the federal corporation that operates the only intercity rail service has never been able to implement high speed Service and is so unreliable that it takes longer to travel from NYC to Chicago than it did in the 1890s. Rail service is unavailable from Washington to Miami, and between many other major cities and always slower than travel by road. 
A quarter to a third of flights are late and about 75% of congestion delays originate from  NYC and Chicago. That can only be relieved in the long term by adding two new major airports at least 30 miles from existing airports near these cities. Expansion of existing airports have reached their limits and do nothing to expand air space around existing airports. 
However, the City of Chicago and the NYNJ Port Authority that control the existing high congestion airports have blocked new airport construction to maintain their monopoly revenues, and political patronage. 
Airports around major cities need high speed rail connecting them with each other and the city centers but this does not exist in the US. Existing ground transportation is set up to maximize airport revenues not public convenience or economic efficiency. This means ground transportation time and expense is enormous and often takes longer or even costs more than air fares.  
President Trump is a builder by profession, so he should be able to make air travel better and break up or reform the monopolistic, bureaucratic structures and interests that block any true modernization of US air travel.
– Paul Hudson

Flyers Rights Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) charity to which contributions are tax deductible. 

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