Bags? Sure. Benefits? No.

Mark your calendars – come April, flights won’t likely get any cheaper, but your benefits will dwindle when booking the cheapest fares across the Atlantic ocean with more and more airlines. American, British Airways, Finnair and Iberia have announced official plans to join their robust transatlantic competition in the race to offer passengers fewer benefits on their lowest priced   “deals”. If you’re a fan of checked bags, good seats and other perks, you’ll want to steer clear of these tricky new offerings.

Basic Yes, Cheaper No

Basic economy is marketed as a way to offer customers lower fares. Airlines use the word “choice” to make it sound like you’re more in control of your travel wallet, with new ways to save. Reality check: you’re not. We eventually bought into this ideology for short flights, but it does not wash for long haul transatlantic. Airlines really just want to charge more for perks you presently receive. We can understand cutting checked bags as some “lite” fares have done, but subjecting passengers to embarrassment like mandatorily boarding last is simply cruel. The things included in your ticket are disappearing and the things you need to pay extra for are now everywhere. The cheapest fare you see is probably not the deal you want. You’re essentially being forced to pay up or suffer.

What’s Changing

A race to the bottom? Lufthansa, Alitalia, AerLingus, Delta, Air France, TAP Portugal, American, British Airways, Iberia, KLM and Lufthansa either offer basic economy or will within a month. When this happens, passengers won’t receive a checked bag and will board last. Many of these airlines will also prevent passengers from selecting a seat assignment before check in begins, effectively guaranteeing a middle seat on a 6+ hour flight.

No Upgrades

Translation: value your business, but only when you overpay. Customers on American Airlines, even elite frequent flyers will not be able to use any tools to upgrade these fares. British Airways frequent flyers will also lose their standard checked baggage allowance. It’s been amended to “none at all” on these fares. Seat selection will remain free for British Airways elite members. This sets a unique and dangerous precedent. An airline which is willing to cut guaranteed benefits at any moment makes loyalty a one way street.

Europe Or America Without Luggage?

We’ve got brilliant tips for traveling without checked luggage, but for an extensive trip to Europe or the US of A, it could certainly prove difficult. Forcing people to shell out an estimated extra $75 per ticket to check a bag or avoid a terrible seat will make transatlantic travel more difficult for many. On busy flights, boarding last could mean treacherous work for even getting a carry on bag to remain in the cabin! We’re not fans of these changes. We understand that other airlines have already done so, but a race to the bottom is not an admirable one to win.

How will these changes affect your purchases and loyalty decisions?

HT: ViewFromTheWing