Last week I wrote about Delta’s cabin rebranding efforts, but I failed to really grasp something that is likely going to become a big issue. The lowest fare, Basic Economy, is going to roll out into more markets and become much more restrictive. It’s structured in a way that virtually guarantees a segment of people who buy it are going to be really pissed off. Those who may not understand what they’re buying have no way to remedy their situation. Not even ultra low cost carriers like Spirit do that, probably because it doesn’t make financial sense to do it that way.
Delta’s ‘Basic Economy’ fares will no longer offer same-day confirmed changes or standby. They already don’t include seat assignments. And elites, regardless of status level, will no longer be able to upgrade on them.
These are fares that started out as a reaction to Spirit Airlines. Delta wanted to offer a product just as bad as Spirit’s. But Spirit lets you pay for a seat assignment. Delta won’t give you a seat assignment at all on these fares.
As I explained,
Delta customers flying routes where the airline competes with Spirit, beware. A Detroit-based flyer doesn’t just have to pay attention on their Florida trips, anymore, since Spirit is flying to Dallas, Houston, and Denver as well. In fairness, Delta does make it clear on their website what sort of fare is being booked.
Delta has minimum revenue requirements for elite status, so presumably customers fly on these fares are doing so only occasionally. Delta sees the customers as profitable enough to reward — just not all the time. A revenue-based program isn’t enough: they need to punish their most loyal flyers on individual trips, too.
What Cranky is saying, though, is that it will no longer just be Spirit routes.
And he points out that customers, especially booking through online travel agencies, may find themselves with these fares ($10 less than otherwise lowest price) without even realizing it.
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