No-Frill Airfares Gain Popularity with Cost-Conscious Consumers

October 11, 2018

In recent years airlines have grown increasingly stingy with the perks they grant to economy class customers. While passengers not so long ago could check up to two bags, most airlines now charge fliers for placing even one suitcase in the plane’s cargo hold. Many people also can’t make changes to their travel itineraries without incurring fees as high as $500. As a result, many casual travelers have started turning to alternative air carriers like Spirit or WOW. Although these companies lack many of the basic perks available at the big-name carriers, their low fares have attracted flocks of fliers looking for the most affordable trip possible.

They’ve also made their established competition reconsider how to do business in this new environment. United, Delta, and American Airlines have all recently introduced flights with low fares but absolutely no frills. Like with Spirit and Wow, these budget options don’t allow passengers to pick their seats, make changes to their tickets, or check bags for free. In fact, the no-frills trend has even spread to air carriers like JetBlue, which first came to prominence in the industry thanks to its perk-friendly flights.

“Ultra-low-cost carriers and basic economy options created a big market for bare-bones fares, and Internet comparison sites encouraged more people to shop solely on price,” said JetBlue president and chief operating officer Joanna Geraghty. “Highly price-conscious travelers voted with their wallets, showing they are willing to give up some of the experience for the lowest fare possible.” Still, no-frill flying isn’t for every type of traveler. Frequent fliers, for instance, are more likely to pay for extra options in order to have greater control of their in-flight experience. Families are also discouraged from buying baseline tickets since no-frill fliers typically board the plane last and cannot reserve seats together.

Questions:

  1. Why have no-frills flight become increasingly popular with consumers?
  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of no-frill flying?

Source: Andrea Sachs, “No-Frill Fares Are All the Rage. Even JetBlue Will Start Offering Basic Economy,” The Washington Post, October 10, 2018.

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