Northwest lies about the advantages of charging for premium coach seats.

Last week I mentioned that I didn’t think Northwest’s move to charge for ‘premium’ seats in coach (which, outside of exit rows, aren’t in any way actually better) was a big deal.

For infrequent flyers it’s neutral or a positive, the opportunity to access seats — though not meaningfully better — otherwise were mostly available to Northwest elites.

For frequent flyers it’s more or less a non-issue: if you’re regularly flying Northwest and spending much time at all in coach you should be changing airlines. The only positive Northwest has is its domestic upgrade program, which isn’t just complimentary but also something they regularly deliver on.

Still, charging elites for something they used to get for free (without even anything new offered up in return) is never a good thing.

But what really irks me is the poor spin that Northwest puts forward, telling the Washington Post that

    its offer matches — or is even better than — similar moves by other carriers. Ebenhoch cited United Airlines, which charges a fee for a seat in its Economy Plus cabin.
United responds that at least its economy plus is better since it offers up to four extra inches of legroom. Northwest’s seats do not.

Unmentioned even by United is that Mileage Plus elite members get economy plus seats for free. Northwest should be ashamed of themselves for attempting to charge elites for these seats… and doubly so for claiming their offering is on par with United’s.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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