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I’m not one to lament a long lost past (I understand there are trade offs), but time was flying was the sport of kings.
Back in the heyday of air travel, even the lowliest customers were served a thick cut of chateaubriand and a gin cocktail in a crystal gimlet, before a beautiful flight attendant came over to offer a smoke from a sterling silver cigarette case.
Didn’t matter who you were, or how much your ticket cost. In the sky, we were all treated like gods. Sky gods.
Nowadays, airlines don’t even have the decency to grease you up before they shove you in a seat too small for your ass, then demand nine dollars for a tub of hummus and some chips that says they’re Stacy’s Pita Chips, but you’re pretty sure they aren’t Stacy’s Pita Chips.
You wouldn’t think it could get worse, paying for your ticket, and your luggage, and your security fee, and your fake pita chips, but man, never underestimate the brutal ruthlessness of capitalists. Welcome to one step below economy class (already itself a step below coach): basic economy.
Delta already offers it, and now United and American are bringing it to the table.
So what does bitch, I mean basic, economy get you? From The Economist:
For frugal travellers, it’s shorthand for giving up some of the few remaining comforts of flying economy.
Because there were so many!
The biggest sacrifice is losing the ability to reserve a seat when booking a flight (so be prepared for a middle seat in the back row). If you are travelling with family or colleagues, forget about sitting together. Passengers flying basic economy also forfeit their right to upgrade their seats and to change or cancel their reservations more than 24 hours after booking.
A lot of people, though, think it’s just a trick to get you to “upgrade” to regular economy, or basically to pay more to reserve your seat, which, reminder, is something that should, like, you know, be part of your ticket.
But some people suspect a more nefarious motive: Delta and its rivals are making basic economy so unpleasant that people will pay extra to “upgrade” to standard economy. Indeed, when you try to book a reservation on Delta’s basic economy, a screen pops up warning you of all the downsides and requiring you to check a box stating “I agree to the restrictions” before you can proceed.
I don’t think steak’s every coming back to the skies.