United Airlines has just introduced a new basic economy ticket, which strips away the already bare bone ‘luxuries’ of economy class travel completely, including the use of the overhead bin. This is just another landmark in a worrying race to the bottom for all airlines and it signals a lot of problems ahead for all travellers.
Traveling carry on only is about to get a hell of a lot trickier, or at least more expensive, thanks to a horrendous new ‘basic economy’ ticket that United Airlines are bringing in. Not content with already giving passengers an uncomfortable and often complained about service, they now want to take away all those other little perks you get in economy, you know, like actually wanting to put your bag somewhere.
Some people are wrongly categorizing this as a ‘fee’ to use the overhead bins on flights, it isn’t. What the new basic economy ticket actually does is not allow customers who buy that ticket use of the overhead bins at all, allowing them to only carry on a small personal bag that can fit under your seat. So you will have to pay to stow your bag, and then only take on a small personal bag on board. It also takes away other so called privileges such as being able to choose your own seat and not earning any miles or loyalty points on the tickets.
I don’t think many customers will want loyalty points with United Airlines after this.
I can see where the confusion comes from, after all United are essentially removing services that were once taken for granted, and make no mistake once this becomes the norm and prices are raised, you will have to pay a premium price to get an economy seat where you can stow your carry on bag. Just look what happened with the deplorable policy of ‘premium economy’, what an absolute insult that is, paying extra to be able to fit in your damn seat!
And this is exactly where this idea will lead to. Mark my words. This is exactly why it has me so worried, because once this is implemented across United’s fleet, it will become the norm. Regular economy ticket prices (you know, the ones you are used to now) will rise in price, premium economy will rise even more, and every other airline will start adopting the exact same practice.
A fare class below economy. This brings a whole new meaning to the term scum class.
I mean how awful an experience do they have to make economy class travel before people actually wake up and say enough is enough? Will it really have to get to the point where they remove seats entirely and force people to stand just so they can fit twice as many people in? Will the air stewardesses charge you a fee every time you need something off them? Will they start charging an ‘oxygen fee’? Why not just put us in stackable coffins in the cargo hold? Maybe I shouldn’t give them ideas.
Now don’t get me wrong, I hate those passengers who abuse the overhead storage bins as much as the next person. Those selfish idiots who bring on luggage that clearly should have been stowed, plus an extra suitcase and half a dozen duty free bags, not to mention all their heavy coats and other clothing are the absolute worst. Especially when they take up an entire rows worth of space or more leaving no room for anyone else! There is a special place in hell reserved for those people right next to the damn recliners. They should be dealt with and airlines do need to get a grip and deal with the problem.
But this is not the way to do it.
This constant race to the bottom is a curse that is affecting most airlines now as even major carriers start to adopt the nickle and diming approach. They are simply charging fees for providing a service that should be included in the already high price of your ticket, or removing services to save money, and I am absolutely sick of it.
This is in no way about the airlines staying afloat or staying competitive. This is about increasing profit at the expense of customers, plain and simple.
Some commentators are actually hailing this as a good idea, from a business point of view at least. That may be technically true because adding on extra fees whilst cutting services does bump up the bottom line, but the big problem is that it may be profitable but it treats customers – once again – with absolute contempt.
And losing already shaky customer loyalty is never a smart business idea.
What Airlines should be doing is making the economy experience better, nicer for passengers. We’re not asking all that much really, just the ability to sit in our seats comfortably without having our legs amputated, the ability to put our bags in a space specifically allocated to the seat we are sitting in. Not being charged extra for every single little thing that the airlines can think of.
Instead of concentrating on turning first class into an exclusive spa experience on every flight, what about putting a little bit of thought into the majority of the people who are flying on your planes every day?
Passengers do occasionally push back though, even the loudmouthed, money grabbing little hobgoblin Michael O Leary of Ryanair was force to back down from his moronic ‘pay to pee’ idea.
And that is exactly what needs to happen here. I urge all of you to be vocal in your distaste for this but more importantly vote with your wallets. Don’t fly basic economy or even better still, don’t fly United at all. They are an awful airline anyway so you aren’t missing much!
Airlines need to be told there is a line in the sand, and this time they aren’t crossing it.
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