Welcome To the Friendly Skies.
Just when you think the flying experience has been dehumanized as far as possible, someone takes it down yet another notch and, in the bargain, finds another way to squeeze a little more money out of us.
The latest outrage is a new class of “service” that will soon be coming to United Airlines. They’re calling it “Basic Economy”. Industry watchers aren’t sure how it will be priced, but the best guess is just a bit less than today’s Standard Economy seat.
OK, so what are we going to get when we buy a Basic Economy ticket on United? In fact, the question should be what is it we won’t be getting.
First, we won’t get to bring a small wheeled bag on board with us, the kind that will fit in the overhead bin. If you’re traveling on a Basic Economy ticket, anything you carry onto the plane will have to fit under the seat in front of you. Or, looking at it another way, United will be forcing you to check the bag you used to carry on board for free . . . and that’ll be 25 bucks, please.
Next, traveling on a Basic Economy ticket, you won’t be able to choose your seat ahead of time. Instead, the gate agent will assign your seat when you check in. So what do you think the odds are that you won’t wind up in a middle seat in the back of the plane? Of course, parents traveling with children won’t take the chance that their kids will be sitting somewhere else in the plane, so for all practical purposes families will be forced to buy the now-more-costly Standard Economy seats.
But here’s what’s so insidious about this: the creation of a new bottom tier class of service, makes a Standard Economy seat seem more desirable, and that is justification enough for United to raise the price for what is nothing more than the same old economy seat!
Friendly Skies, my patootie!