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From More Miles To Less Room And Higher Fees, We’re Tired Of It…

That’s the operating question for this article. When will airlines realize that taking away is not  enhancement, and that charging more for what once was less is not a reason to celebrate? Last night I attended a Virgin Atlantic event, and usually it would put me in the highest of spirits. I’m generally very fond of Virgin, they even gave me the greatest laugh of my career. We’ve had a nice relationship based on mostly positive news.

So when I turned up to the event last evening I expected something at least moderately spin worthy. Maybe they were going to join SkyTeam, announce A350 details or talk about something new and cool. Instead, it was a party to launch basic economy. it certainly wasn’t marketed that way, but it was. Yes, they launched “delight”, an economy comfort of sorts – but they kinda already had that. They never had fares that did not include checked bags.

Lets make one point abundantly clear. This was move is not about saving passengers money, which many are lead to believe. Virgin Atlantic, prior to the news (like every other airline) already had to compete with low cost airlines on price. Just like all Virgin’s competitors who’ve opted to charge for checked bags on “basic” or “light” fares, this move is about profit. Virgin was already matching and even occasionally besting the lowest fares offered by Norwegian. Those fares included a bag.

All that’s changed is you’ll pay more for what you once received included with the price. The prices won’t really change. Prices are already crazy low, lower than ever before and there’s no sign of that changing any time soon, unless you have to add on $50+ to every fare for the old (better) experience. I’m not remotely “mad” that the change occurred. It was overdue from Virgin, given everyone else had already made the same move. It’s spinning it as if we asked for it, and it’s about us and not their balance sheet that hurts. We’re better than that, and I’d like to believe they are too.

This is just a singular look into a rampant trend. Smaller seats are better for passengers, requiring more miles makes it easier to use miles, you can now upgrade to premium economy (whereas before the same upgrade got you business class) – the tape seems to run without need for replenishment. I just hope one day airlines will give us a bit of credit, call a change a change – neither positive or negative. Celebrate the good, own the bad. Be honest and we’ll be loyal.

Am I the only one here?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. I hope that the executives who made this decision and their families are all required to fly Delight for every flight. Let them bask in the joy of their wonderful choices.

  2. It’s a catch-22. You were probably a kid at the time, but when American and it’s predecessor airline TWA had extra leg room in coach, they still found that people didn’t respond and ended up removing the extra leg room.

    Generally we claim to want bigger seats, etc but Spirit (and RyanAir and the like) have shown that people are still responding to cheap airfares and dealing with the lack of amenities, 28″ seat pitch, $2 charge for water and then complain about it later.

  3. You are not alone and you know who I believe are the worst offenders as they often don’t deliver what they’ve sold and then refuse compensation (esp. seat reservations)
    Undoubtedly it is marketing and PR hype / lies and the net cost tot he consumer is unlikely to fall but the fact remains that the product delivered still varies by company and even though the new models (or they way they are launched) are fraudulent / deceptive some airlines eg Singapore, Lufthansa, EasyJet still deliver value in the marketplace… It’s those that engage in the same hype and then fail to deliver / refuse to compensate that truly deserve your ire…
    I live in hope of objective assessment of one of your favourites!

  4. …….you can now upgrade to premium economy (whereas before the same upgrade got you business class)……

    this is the single most irritating thing that airlines have done (and those who haven’t joined in will do so soon) apart from charging more miles for the privilege of jumping over premium eco directly into J. Another annoying thing is that some airlines force you to buy expensive ‘up-gradable’ premium eco tickets if you wish to get a miles upgrade. These can be so expensive that its just better to buy a cheap business class fare.

    I have realised that I have slowly moved towards looking for affordable business class tickets vs miles tickets/upgrades. I also don’t care as much for airline status (and loyalty) anymore as most airlines seem to not care for their customers. The only real advantage these days for loyalty and airline status is extra miles. All other benefits are useless if you buy cheap J fares.

    Airlines are most certainly making it harder every year to win at the miles game. Its sad. People who can afford to pay for cheap business class fares are going to win in the long run due to the cut throat competition in the premium section and those who could only get into a flat bed by upgrading are going to be the losers. Airlines want that as at the end of the day they make money on the J pax. not the Y.

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