Airlines are finally explaining what “last class” means. It isn’t pretty

OVER the past couple of years America’s three biggest carriers, Delta, United and American, have each unveiled a fare class below economy. The new designation, known as “basic economy” to the airlines and derided as “last class” by their customers, is an attempt to compete with the low fares on profitable no-frills carriers such as Spirit and Frontier.

From the airlines’ initial announcements, it seemed that the sacrifices passengers would have to make in order to secure last-class fares would be modest. The most notable was the inability to select seats when booking a flight. For families travelling together that might be unpalatable, since they would run the risk of being split up. For solo travellers it would mean more chance of a middle seat—not ideal, but worth the lower cost for many flyers.

That changed this week when United, on a call with investors, dropped a bombshell: flyers in basic economy would be barred from using the overhead bins. Instead, they will be allowed only a small carry-on bag that can fit under the seat in…Continue reading

from Business and finance http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2016/11/one-step-closer-steerage?fsrc=rss

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