Alaska Airlines has announced the introduction of a new no-frills Basic Economy product dubbed the “Saver Fare”. The Seattle-based airline is joining the likes of American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta Air Lines in offering a cheap, now-frills ticket.
The Saver Fare will have restrictions in changes, and will be nonrefundable. In addition, the basic fare makes it impossible for travelers to upgrade their seats. Passengers who purchase the option will also be the last to board the aircraft, meaning that access to overhead bins will be limited.
Alaska’s Saver Fare option will have some differences from other major carriers. Passengers will, for example, be able to choose their own seats when they book, while other airlines only offer seat selection at check in. The seat options on Alaska, however, will be limited to the back of the aircraft.
“One thing that is very significantly different: when you book on Alaska Airlines, you get a seat assignment,” said Andrew Harrison, Alaska Air Group’s chief commercial officer. “Today when you book the saver fare, you will get a seat assignment… if you look across the structure of [basic economy overall], our structure is one that meets the middle ground.”
Alaska will also allow Saver Fare passengers to have a personal item and carry on bags.
A launch date for the basic fare has not yet been officially announced, but it is expected that the fares will be launched in the fall. The fares will most likely be widely available by January 2019.
The rise of basic fare products among major carriers is a response to the rise of Ultra Low Cost carriers such as Spirit Airlines, which thrive exclusively on basic, no-frills tickets and appeal to passengers looking for cheap travel. Major US carriers, such as American and United, who have recently introduced low-fare options have stripped almost all perks from tickets, charging for things such as carry-on luggage.
Statistics show that the introduction of basic fares have driven up airline revenue in unexpected ways. Analysts say that a majority of passengers who visit airlines’ websites for the basic fares end up booking regular economy due to the lack of possibility with the basic fare, giving larger carriers advantages over low cost competitors.
Featured image by Alaska Airlines