Six months ago, if you asked travelers which airlines were doing something “different” in the United States, you’d likely have heard JetBlue, Southwest and a triumphant clamor of support for Alaska. With generous policies for bags, ticket cancellations, change fees and beyond, Alaska was seen as a true threat to legacy airlines such as Delta, United and American, especially with their takeover of Virgin America, which gave new access to routes all over the country. Unfortunately, since the takeover, the airline has done everything in its power to become just like the “big three”, and the airlines latest move makes it virtually indistinguishable…
On April 24th, Alaska Air announced the end of live television on all Virgin America planes, the end of 60 day free changes, where passengers could change their ticket without a fee, so long as the ticket was 60 or more days from travel and also added basic economy restrictions to go with new and increased change fees. These moves prompted the question: are Southwest and JetBlue America’s only remaining hopes?
And Another Cut
Alaska announced yet another cut yesterday, and like many of the others, it was a true differentiator in the U.S. aviation market, and a passenger favorite. The airline essentially allowed you to receive money back in the form of travel credit, if the price of your ticket dropped before departure. You received a credit for the difference in fare. As of September 1st, this policy will be discontinued in its entirety.
The Wrong Message
Last year we ran a series of articles on price guarantees, and learned quite a lot. Most airlines limit this offer to lower deals found within 14 days of booking or as little as 24 hours, in the case of American, United and Delta. If Alaska wanted to send a message of trust, they could’ve devalued the beloved policy, perhaps to 14 days, like JetBlue. A policy such as this one costs the airline virtually nothing, and gains future business, if a credit must be issued. It’s a game of trust, and right now, Alaska is not winning.