Economy class gets an upgrade – or is it a downgrade?

The lowly economy-class section is getting an upgrade in 2015. Or a downgrade, depending on your point of view.

At least two airlines are unveiling new coach class sections this spring. Alaska Airlines, with its Alaska Beyond service, will add custom leather seats, roomier overhead bins and new in-flight entertainment options. And Delta Air Lines, which is also in the throes of an ambitious cabin overhaul, will introduce a new basic economy-class fare, creating what some are calling a “fifth class” of service.

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Economy class — the cabin most airline passengers fly in — rarely gets this much attention. Airlines prefer to focus on their high-revenue business travelers, lavishing them with repeated remodelings of their first-class cabins. So when the cheap seats get a makeover, it’s easy to assume that’s good news for the average air traveler.

But not all upgrades are the same. In fact, Alaska’s and Delta’s are worth closer looks, because they offer dramatically different visions of air travel in 2015.

Delta’s changes are the most sweeping. The airline is quietly redefining “economy class.” On the visual side, its economy section will come with distinctive new seats, wireless Internet access and, in some cases, larger overhead bins — all part of a billion-dollar update of its cabin interiors.

But its economy-class fares are undergoing an overhaul, too. Delta’s new basic economy-class tickets are highly restrictive, a departure from its standard economy tickets, which it will continue to offer on its flights. No changes, refunds or upgrades will be allowed on these new fares, nor can you make advance seat reservations. Delta introduced these fares as an experiment in certain markets in 2012 and decided to expand them late last year.

Delta’s basic tickets are the same E-class fares that a decade ago came with a seat assignment, two checked bags and the ability to change a reservation. The airline didn’t discount the tickets in exchange for the new restrictions. Instead, it asked customers whether they would be willing to accept that same E fare with new limits, and enough passengers said yes.

The discount on a basic fare can be significant. An advance-purchase, round-trip flight from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Detroit in January cost $206 in basic and $246 in regular economy class.

“The basic economy fare is competitive with other carriers,” says Delta spokesman Paul Skrbec. “But it’s on the back of a very solid core economy product.”

By “other carriers,” he means budget airlines such as Allegiant and Spirit, known for their tight legroom and abundance of fees. Observers fear that over time, Delta could segment its basic customers in their own cabin with even less legroom and personal space. Skrbec says Delta has no such plans.

Harlan Platt, a finance professor at Northeastern University, says that, from a customer-experience point of view, the Delta remodeling is largely “cosmetic.”

“They fail to touch on the big three concerns of most passengers: legroom, access to bins, and fair prices and fees,” he says. “Like most oligopolistic industries, this is what we can expect in the future.”

Maybe, maybe not.

Across the country, in Seattle, Alaska Airlines is also working on its new economy-class section. From a distance, the improvements look similar to Delta’s — a better seat (in this case, an adjustable leather seat made by Recaro, an award-winning aircraft seat designer) plus power outlets in every seat back. Alaska has also overhauled its menu, offering entrees created by some of the Northwest’s best-known chefs.

Alaska addresses at least one of the passenger concerns cited by Platt more overtly. Later this year, some of its new aircraft will have Boeing’s “innovative” space bins, which offer 45 percent more room. The seats will be about the same size as the previous economy seats, offering between 31 and 32 inches of seat pitch — a rough industry measure of legroom. That’s about three inches less than the basic economy-class seat had before airline deregulation in 1978.

Perhaps the most significant part of Alaska Airlines’ overhaul is what it didn’t do. It did not announce plans to change the way it segments customers. It doesn’t charge economy-class passengers for advance seat reservations, and if you cancel a ticket 60 days before your flight, it charges no fees. (After that, it’s $125, compared to the $200 charged by most large airlines.)

“We’re harnessing all the things our customers say make us Alaska, and making the amenities available to all customers — not just a certain section or segment of customer,” says Halley Knigge, an airline spokeswoman.

In other words, these economy-class changes might look similar, but they are not the same. One reinforces the traditional concept of coach class — that no matter where you sit on a plane, you can expect a minimum level of service and amenities. The other reduces the air travel experience to a use-it-or-lose-it ticket, critics say.

Which vision will win? That’s not a hard question to answer. Air travelers tend to reflexively book the lowest fare without considering the consequences. Delta said it did not conduct any focus groups and that its customers didn’t directly ask for a more restrictive economy-class ticket. Rather, it offered the tickets and people bought them, which the airline says proves consumers want them.

That kind of market research is unlikely to improve the flying experience, says Jono Anderson, aviation expert at the global consulting firm Strategy&. Airlines are making too many guesses and assumptions rather than using advanced analytics and actual customer feedback to make decisions about their products. “They need to know their customers better,” he says.

Until then, you should get to know your economy-class section better. Sites like Hipmunk.com, which gauge a flight’s “agony,” or RouteHappy.com, which displays flights based on comfort, can separate the most miserable economy-class experiences from the rest. Delta’s new basic restrictions are also clearly disclosed when you book through the airline’s Web site. But now more than ever, you need to pay attention — especially if you’re flying in economy class.

Is economy class travel getting better?

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53 thoughts on “Economy class gets an upgrade – or is it a downgrade?

  1. What’s Delta’s alternative? On the particular market you mentioned,
    Delta competes heavily with Spirit (both offer lots of non-stops on this
    route.) Clearly, by virtue of the fact that Spirit manages to pack their planes (and make a ton of money at it), despite proudly hostile service and bone-crushing pitch, there are plenty of customers willing to give up service for price. Should Delta just permanently cede those customers to the competition? That’s a good way to drive your company bankrupt.

    Also, what’s your source for the fact that E-class didn’t get discounted? A quick search of flights R/T FLL DTW 3/6-3/14 shows Delta E-class a little higher than Spirit (as intended), and substantially below the competition. On the flights where it’s not available, Delta’s prices are much closer to the non-Spirit competition.

    It looks to me that they did indeed lower the amenities available with the cheapest fare code, and discounted it and reshuffled the pricing for some of the other class codes.

    It’s not like they are out to trick somebody by reducing the E-class fares vs. what E-class used to offer; few (any?) travelers pay any attention at all to the particular letter code attached to a ticket. I mean, do you have any idea what the difference is between some of the other cheapest fares offered on this route are? I can certainly see that E-class is different; what separates Q/T/L/X/V from each other? (They are the other classes offered on this route on that day; all are economy.) Answer: I found a “key” on-line. They are internal bookkeeping designations that sort travelers into who is most likely to get an upgrade, and denote which tickets can be bought and/or upgraded with FF miles.

    My point: They have plenty of letter designators to spare, so they could re-use E-class to now mean something else (and discount it heavily), and still have plenty of letters left to fiddle with fares comparable to the non-Spirit competition’s.

    In any case, I don’t blame them for not running focus groups; focus groups lie. You ask somebody if they are willing to pay more for better service, and they always say yes. As you pointed out, travelers then reflexively book the lowest fare, even when they are clearly told that things are being taken away from them in return for that fare.

    I’m not sure where the statement comes from that the airlines aren’t using analytics… airlines were the first industry to perform this sort of hyper-segmentation based on real-time use of booking statistics. And of COURSE they are using customer feedback… they are using the only feedback that really matters: Do customers continue to open their wallets? Focus groups and surveys are a sub-par way of figuring out if you are offering the right product. As long as fare is the largest determinant of customer behavior, airlines will continue to let their product degrade. When passengers start to drift away, despite offering a fare lower than the competition, they’ll crank up service levels again.

    1. Here’s one alternative: Delta could have dropped its prices to match Spirit’s while keeping its higher level of service. If the two airlines popped up on search engines with the same price, which name do you think customers would pick? The increased number of tickets sold would more than make up for the lower fare and, incidentally, put Spirit out of business. Of course, Delta would need to add more flights and perhaps more planes to make room for all the new customers, but that’s a good thing.

      1. “The increased number of tickets sold would more than make up for the lower fare and, incidentally, put Spirit out of business.”

        Err… no. At Delta’s standard service levels, their costs are quite a bit higher than Spirit’s. If they matched Spirit’s pricing without reducing service, they’d lose money on every ticket sold.

        If every ticket loses money, increased volume doesn’t help. Quite the opposite, in fact.

        1. I’m not convinced. Since the adoption of EU 261, the European airlines (and others with flights to or from Europe) have had to provide all kinds of service and compensation that were new, but somehow the plane fares haven’t gone up. With the fall in fuel prices, this would be a great time for Delta to try something like this. And yes, I know that the fuel they’re burning now was bought at pre-decline prices, but they’re buying fuel for the future at the new prices right now.

          1. Spirit’s costs are much less than Delta’s. Period. (When you pack people as tightly as Spirit does on to planes, and offer service THAT openly hostile, it’s not hard to keep costs down.) This is a published financial figure: Over the same reporting period (the second half of 2013; the best I could find with a quick Googling) Delta’s planes cost 15 cents per passenger-mile to operate; Spirit’s cost less than 10.

            Delta’s margin is not so high that they can drop fares to match Spirit’s without losing money. Spirit, on the other hand, runs with the highest margins in the industry; if Delta tried to match Spirit’s fares, Spirit has a LOT more room than Delta to drop their fares even lower.

            That’s a battle Delta would lose. Badly.

          2. Sir, I totally agree.. Given where DL is, and where a bulk
            of their domestic operations are, they’ve got to address NK as a competitive
            force.. AS as I see them, based in SEA, doesn’t have a ULCC to contend with in
            SEA or along the western US where the bulk their ops are.. So, to me, the move
            by AS makes sense given who they are, their current cost structure and
            competitive forces in their markets.
            Same for DL. Their moves makes sense for their realities. And as you’ve noted DL’s CASM is higher than
            NK’s due to a variety of reasons like legacy/union labor costs (this is not
            union-bashing, but acknowledgement that on average unionized carriers tend to
            have higher labor costs than non-unionized carriers when measuring the same job
            class/skill), route network and connectivity costs.

            I don’t see an issue with DL offering a 5th class
            per se, as this to me now allows a person who may fly NK due principally for
            the cost side, but now can also fly DL, and perhaps capture other benefits like
            interline connectivity, that wouldn’t be possible with a ULCC like Spirit.

            This doesn’t make NK “bad”, but to me it now says that NK isn’t
            the one who is going to play (or try to play) in the ULCC arena in that part of
            the US.

          3. The fundamental problem is the lack of clarity for consumers on the total cost of travel.

            As of 2013, at least 38.4% of Spirit’s revenue came from ancillary fees. For Delta, the corresponding figure was 6.7% (the lowest figure among the major domestic carriers).

            That means, when purchasing a flight with a base fare of $100, the average Spirit consumer will actually spend $162.33 including fees while the average Delta passenger will actually spend $107.18 including fees.

            So, for an average passenger, a base fare of $100 on Spirit actually costs the same as a base fare of $151.46 on Delta. In other words, a Delta fare that’s 50% higher than the Spirit fare is actually the cheaper fare on average. And that’s before we even account for ticket restrictions and flexibility, passenger comfort, and hostile customer service.

            And even at that matching pricepoint, Delta hands over $10.60 in excise tax to the government and Spirit hands over $7 in excise taxes. That’s another 2.5% revenue advantage for Spirit because of a tax loophole.

          4. It isn’t clarity, it is that people don’t do their homework when they book online. The information is there, they just don’t pay attention to all the details and we know details are what make the difference.

          5. That’s part of the airline lobby’s spin, and predatory lenders once offered similar spin to fight various regulations.

            There are those who benefit when expertise, and combing through dozens of pages of fine print, is needed to properly evaluate a $200 purchase.

            And even with all the research and expertise in the world, carriers can currently change rules and fees (other than prepaid and baggage) even after purchase.

            Spirit’s CEO has set a goal of making ancillary fees 50% of his firm’s revenues. Expect the rules to continue to ‘evolve’ to fool customers. And expect those who benefit from this to blame the customer for it.

          6. I would agree if I went to book a ticket and didn’t read the print before forking over my money. But if I’m having to search for a fee and still can’t find it, then someone tried very hard to bury it where it wouldn’t be found, and that is, at the very least, a highly deceptive and unethical business practice.

          7. What fees aren’t locatable? If it is your first time, then use a TA, just like you would do for a job around the house you aren’t qualified to handle. Once you have experienced something, they it is often easier to figure things out on your own.

      2. You do realize that’s almost exactly what Delta did, right? The services are all standard for Delta. The only things they took away were change/cancellation flexibility (which wasn’t much to speak of in the first place) and seat assignments. The rest of the inclusions/exclusions are exactly the same as they have been for other economy passengers.

    2. What’s Delta’s alternative?

      They could have embraced the DOT’s NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rule Making) from May 21, 2014, which among other things, proposed:

      “to require airlines and ticket agents to disclose at all points of sale the fees for certain basic ancillary services associated with the air transportation consumers are buying or considering buying.”

      And they could have argued that change terms should be disclosed at all points of sales too.

      The same NPRM also proposed to expand the minimum carrier size thresholds for reporting Service Quality Data (such as on-time performance) to include carriers such as Spirit and Allegiant.

      They could have embraced removing the excise tax exemption on ancillary fees, which gives carriers the incentive to increase their share of revenue from fees.

      They could have embraced basic Duty-to-Care protections for passengers, so carriers like Spirit can’t profit from stranding passengers.

  2. On another note… how long until we get a letter here complaining that those meanies at Delta won’t let John Q. Passenger change his deep-discount ticket and are just being so cruel by pocketing the money when Mr. Passenger can’t go?

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  3. It’s not going to get better as long as the casual traveler only books based on price.

    Chris, you are one of the best when it comes to pointing out the downside of economy travel. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again…

    Come up with a minimum set of standards for any industry and push that platform!
    -minimum seat pitch, included bags, free drink on an airplane
    -trivial damage under a certain size in rental cars is on the company
    -ban resort fees in hotels

    These are just examples, if we don’t have a plan to fix what is broken, we are just whiners complaining about a system with no ideas how to fix it…

      1. Yes, minimum seat pitch (34-35″) and seat width (20-21″) need to be mandated by the FAA. Planes can not be adequately evacuated in time with the current tight seating, so there is a major safety consideration.
        Chris — you and Joe B. and the various passenger group reps need to get together and issue a call for new seat standards.

        1. I don’t recall any accident in memory in which lives were lost due to a lengthy evacuation. There is a standard for evacuation time, and all planes in service meet those standards.

    1. Amen Jim. I enjoy reading this site and have started to really understand what the lack of competition is doing to the airline industry. Being jammed into a plane to the point that you can barely move without taking out the person next to you really bothers me. So much so, that I just used the two websites that Chris pointed out to check on flights to Vegas in march with the express intention to try to find something semi-comfortable. Growing up on the west coast, I have become used to Southwest airlines and Alaska airlines for travel and have to give them kudos for resisting the urge to dehumanize their customers as much as their competition. I’m all for a law forcing these companies to have a minimum set of standards. Just a shame it takes that to get them to take care of their customers.

  4. Both AS and Delta claim “Better seating” in economy class. Translation: thinner, lighter and more uncomfortable.

  5. I am not a fan of this kind of down-scaling of amenities in airline tickets. There are lots of issues, but my biggest gripe with the Delta plan above is to not allow pre-selection of seats with certain fares. I have 2 small kids (5 and 7), we travel to Florida at least once a year. If we were to take the above flight that Chris highlighted, I would have to pay $40 each, or $120 for the three of us to make sure that I sit with my kids. If not I take the chance that we will be split up all over the cabin. How willing would someone be to switch seats with me if THEY paid the $40 extra to pick their seat, or to sit with my 5 year old while I am sitting 5 rows back? This has long been the biggest complaint of mine with the un-bundling of fairs, it ends up being a penalty that families pay to be seated together.

    1. I know families don’t like being separated, and I don’t blame them. This is one of those fees that, to me, is a clear money grab, as it doesn’t have a cost associated with it that the airline is passing on to the passengers. My personal opinion on this is to book the cheapest tickets, and when you get to the gate and they’ve seated your five-year-old several rows away from you, say, “Okay. You have fun with that.” Eventually, there will be enough complaints from other passengers, and the crew will have to deal with enough extra work, that they’ll relent on this one.

      1. The problem with that is that it isn’t a fee. Keep in mind that Delta didn’t just take their lowest fare and remove services from it–what would have been the fare before is still the standard fare now. This is a discount to the flexible, not an upcharge to the inflexible. And for heaven’s sake, it’s not a fee! You can’t even pay a fee to pick a seat with a Basic Economy fare. It’s a type of ticket designed to compete with entire airlines that do nothing but unbundled fares. You’re still better off with Delta if the cost is the same because they will be more flexible since they’re not trying to get you to pay the upcharge that they don’t offer. They will probably try to seat families together at the gate if at all possible, but if it’s that important to you, then pay the normal fare like most everyone else.

        1. I feel like we’re having a semantic argument. There is a price for which you are offered transport on the airplane. There is another, higher price for which you are offered transport, and also the ability to choose your seat(s). Therefore, there is a charge, fee, upsell, additional cost, or whatever term you want to use, to get the option of choosing seats together. My issue with this one is that it doesn’t reduce costs for the airline to remove the option of choosing a seat. The same system that assigns you a seat is being used to place you on the passenger manifest in the first place. You choosing a seat costs $0.00 extra to the airline. You can “just pay” the extra to get what you want, but the airline is inconveniencing everyone by forcing this profit center on families in the first place.

        2. Thank you – its great for the single traveller who is far more flexible, or for those friends who can live without sitting next to each other for a couple hours. JUST because there is a lower fare, you don’t need to feel you should book that AND expect seats together as a family – this fare wasn’t designed for families, after all.

    2. I just refuse to fly a airline that won’t allow you to select seats. Bad enough they charge for suitcases, I won’t be forced to pay for something I’m already paying for in the first place. Hence, i will vote with my wallet on this one.

  6. Yes, minimum seat pitch (34-35″) and seat width (20-21″) need to be mandated by the FAA. Planes can not be adequately evacuated in time with the current tight seating, so there is a major safety consideration.
    Chris — you and Joe B. and the various passenger group reps need to get together and issue a call for new seat standards.

    1. Victor,

      “Planes can not be adequately evacuated in time with the current tight seating, so there is a major safety consideration.”

      That may be your opinion, but under current safety standards, the FAA appears to disagree with you.

      Every aircraft and model of it, must be certified to evacuation standards. If a carrier changes the “floor plan” if you will – either add or take away – seats a whole new ‘evac’ test must be done.

      Evac tests are done under direct FAA observation, using determined parameter that may include blocking or disabling one or more of the eligible doors.

      So, to your point, the FAA *does* in fact regulate this issue.. safety from the viewpoint of seating, but does so from a cabin or plane-wide basis and not from an individual seat size/space basis.

  7. I’d be interested to see whether Delta actually is changing anything, or simply not allowing people in E class tickets to upgrade. We’ll find out soon enough. Did you read anywhere Chris that they were actually redesigning the insides of the cabin as opposed to rebranding Economy Comfort as Delta Comfort?

    1. CAN not pay for a seat, or an upgrade (so no economy comfort seats). And no, they are not redesigning the planes. The fare is discounted due to the restrictions on it, that is all.

      1. In other words what’s changing is that you can no longer upgrade on an E class ticket. I thought I read somewhere that they were reducing the prices of economy comfort on international flights while limiting the upgrade window which I thought made it cheaper but harder to get them for gold and silver members but now I can’t find the source.

  8. I think this article’s portrayal of Delta’s Basic Economy product is disingenuous. Yes, it comes with ticketing restrictions, which is how the fare remains low. But from the moment you clear security, it’s exactly like being any other economy passenger. This fare structure is designed to compete primarily with Spirit and Frontier (and Allegiant to a lesser extent), but the hard product is the same superior product that Delta offers to its other economy passengers. Despite the cheaper and more restrictive ticket, a carryon bag is still free, as are the same drinks and snacks available to other passengers. You’re sitting in the same seat as any other economy passenger would, not a 28″ pitch nightmare (though I admit you’d be more likely to end up in the back of the bus since you can’t choose one for yourself). At the end of the day, you still get more for a similar price to what the ULCCs are offering, and although the restrictions are important to consider, this fare class does not come with an abundance of optional (and often somewhat hidden) fees.

    1. I’m surprised to hear you say that Delta has a “superior product” when, just a few days ago (January 9), you wrote to Delta on Facebook, “I am so sick of a corporate structure that cannot support interdepartmental cooperation when it comes to keeping promises made to customers. For 20+ years I have been flying on Delta, and I absolutely cannot put up with this anymore. If this can’t be fixed, then you will lose my business and I will transfer my miles to another airline”. The context of your remark was frequent flyer miles, but it doesn’t sound as if you really believe that this airline’s product is anything to write home about; there seems to be a general erosion of customer care.

      1. First of all, if you insist upon stalking me, then you should at least do it properly–the post you’re talking about was probably from January 9 of last year. It was also not an indictment of Delta’s hard product, but rather of the horrible service provided by the reservations department (a problem I was able to recently confirm has not been resolved), and the lack of communication infrastructure between the reservations and customer care departments–all of which are on-the-ground problems unrelated to the experience in the air.

        These are two different issues. What Chris is talking about is the passenger experience onboard, and that’s where I think he does a poor job for the reasons outlined above. Delta has, of the large American carriers, the best economy product. The only carriers that come close to it are JetBlue and Southwest, but they both have limitations that Delta does not. As with all of the other legacy carriers, Delta’s product has both evolved and eroded. But considering the comparison here is between Delta and ULCCs, Delta is lightyears ahead of them in terms of passenger experience. The introduction and expansion of Basic Economy is unlike the upgrades that Alaska is undertaking because Alaska is changing its onboard economy product, while Delta is not. So this is not an erosion of Delta’s economy experience because from the moment a passenger arrives at the airport, the experience is identical whether that passenger has an E class fare or any of the other discounted fare classes. It only makes a difference prior to travel and in terms of mileage accrual, so as a similarly priced option to a ULCC, it’s a huge upgrade. The comparison isn’t one of customer care, but if you want to compare Delta’s customer care to Spirit’s, then be my guest. If those were the only options, suddenly Delta’s would look pretty sensational!

        I’m sorry you’re not capable of seeing things beyond the binary, Brooklyn. But just because I have one problem with Delta does not mean that I cannot applaud them for some other action. Every airline makes mistakes, and most of them also find some measure of success.

        1. I just checked again and the whole exchange between you and Delta took place between January 9 and January 14, 2014. I don’t normally “stalk” (i.e., check up on) people, but I hadn’t seen your name on the site before and you were defending Delta so passionately that I wanted to see whether you worked for them. Furthermore, I scrupulously noted that your complaint had to do with frequent flier miles, not the subject of the case of the day. For a newcomer, you’re very quick to brand Chris as “disingenuous” (“not candid or sincere, typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does”), which seems perilously close to calling him a liar. I don’t like it.

          1. I’ve commented on this site several times before, though not recently. I do not, nor did I ever, work for Delta or any other airline. I am an aviation journalist myself, and clarity in reporting is paramount. Chris missed the mark this time around by publishing a report that comes perilously close to being inaccurate in that it compares two unlike things as though they are comparable, and I called him on it. Delta isn’t changing its economy product; it’s changing a fare class. What Delta is changing, much of which was announced at the same time as the basic shift, are the premium cabins and Economy Comfort/Comfort+, but that isn’t part of the scope of this discussion. And the notion of a sub-economy cabin is just ridiculous and sensationalist. Don’t get your knickers in a twist over this nonsense.

          2. You’re an aviation journalist; Chris is a consumer advocate. That difference is likely to put you on opposite sides of the fence at least some of the time. Chris’s point was that, in his opinion – and it is, after all, his blog – the changes are not a good thing for the people whose behinds are in the seats. I think he makes a convincing case.

          3. He has every right to put his opinion up here, but it’s also up for everyone to see, discuss, and dispute. Based on the information available, it makes absolutely no difference for most travelers because most of them will be paying the regular discounted fare, not the Basic Economy fare. This expansion of the program is designed to entice customers who have flown Spirit in the past, and for them it’s hard to call this anything but an upgrade, complete with 3″ more legroom, a lack of hidden fees, and free IFE fleet-wide for all mainline aircraft and on all regional aircraft of more than 50 seats (as the 50-seat-and-under aircraft are quickly shed).

            And for those who already fly Delta, this is just another option for people who are flexible. There is no penalty for those who aren’t–they pay the same fares they always have. But those who are flexible can pay a little less to sit wherever the gate agent can find a space. Flexibility has always offered some additional perks, like being able to volunteer on an oversold flight, and this is the same concept.

          4. Flag on this comment. I’ve already linked to our policy today. Please be good to each other.

            The comments section of this site is meant as a forum for a polite and substantive discussion of the issues raised in the article. @austinpaulthomasspeaker:disqus is entitled to his opinion of my advocacy practice, but the story remains, and I stand by the facts and the way in which they were presented. And I’m grateful to @disqus_Af39FpMast:disqus for the support.

            Delta was aware of this article for many weeks and it was written in an extremely collaborative way, with the airline having an opportunity to comment at every step of the way. I’m not here to advocate for airlines or travel agents, but for consumers. I’m really sorry if I left anyone with the impression I was doing anything else.

  9. I just want to know what airlines the 11 people who voted that economy travel is getting better are traveling on??? I just might try them! That or what drugs they are using!

  10. I’m waiting for a case where a Delta PAX bought the super-cheap seats and could not sit next to her child/dog/whatever and a regular economy PAX was moved to accommodate. Just waiting…

  11. If Delta Air Lines were to truly offer “basic” fares–no changes, refunds or upgrades–then such tickets should be full alienable by passengers. The seat is a commodity, and if sold in full to a person, then that person ought to have the right to appoint the person to occupy that seat.

  12. I have HATED Delta’s Basic Economy from day one – and let a client know that although the fare I quote may be higher than some they may find online, it does NOT have all the restrictions – and since I book a lot of honeymooners or families, they DO want to ensure seats together on a flight, so let them know that is not an option with these tickets, and they will gladly pay more to ensure those seats.

  13. When I book an economy class ticket I expect a guaranteed seat with minimal legroom that will get me from Point A to Point B, preferably on time, at a minimum of expense. I don’t expect to be supremely comfortable (nor do I think it reasonable to expect sufficient legroom for my 6’7″ frame), but I think this is a reasonable set of expectations at the economy class price point. Added comfort, more legroom, and better in-flight service are some of the amenities that I’m willing to pay a little (or a lot) more for depending on the duration of the leg.

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