While it looks like American plans to follow Delta by introducing Basic Economy Fares (lowest fares that do not come with the ordinary benefits of a ticket on a full service carrier, such as advance seat assignments or the ability to upgrade or even make changes with payment of a fee), there’s some indication that United may follow American’s existing model of selling bundles of benefits with their tickets.
United mentioned plans for ‘unbundled’ (more fees) fares at an industry conference yesterday as well.
The airline may also be rolling out pay with points at a value of just a penny apiece, which one presumes is an ‘add on option’ and not a replacement for flight awards. This could be for airline tickets and even inflight wifi and food purchases.
Via Travel Codex, a United employee who apparently works on united.com, kiosks, and mobile app posted an analysis and mockup of how United could present new purchase options (19mb .pdf) to his personal website.
The worst thing that this individual believes – and he may be right – is that customers don’t treat their miles as a currency with value. They treat them as ‘free’. So paying with miles seems like you are getting something for nothing.
That is the belief that lets Delta offer such little value for its SkyMiles. And it’s how United can offer only a penny a mile towards ancillary purchases (at least in this mockup they are giving miles a penny..!)
Please please do not spend your miles that way. While some members may find value in options like that, and more choices are a good thing, I would hope enough informed customers want to receive value back for their miles.
We’re going to see coach sold as bundles.
I like code name ‘sparrow’…
So when will this happen? It’s part of ‘phase 2’ of the new United.com website. And phase 1 literally took years to launch. So the answer is we don’t actually know.