With Alaska Airlines’ announcement that they are going to offer “basic economy” fares, that means that all the majors now offer complete no-frills fares. Why? Because they have to compete with the likes of Spirit and Frontier. Instead of pulling fares – and service – up, the airline industry is now having to compete at the very lowest common denominator.
I mean I personally get it. I once paid $24 for a one way flight from SNA to DEN on F9 (Frontier), even though with fees that are required to make the travel liveable (meaning advanced purchase and carry-on bag fees) brought cost an additional $70, which brought the fare – including taxes – to around $110. And airlines love their fees.
The business traveler is a dying breed these days, and airlines aren’t seeing as many of us. Just in the last four years since I’ve been traveling between PDX and SNA, the number of regular business travelers on my flight has decreased from more than half a dozen regulars per flight to just two. So they have to make up the empty seats somehow.
So welcome to the club, Alaska Airlines! You, Delta, American, and United should only have to compete with each other, and not the likes of an airline that is one step above charging for access to lavatories in flight. But this is our world!