Just when you thought air travel couldn’t get less comfortable, American Airlines announced in late 2015 that the Company will introduce “no frills” flights in 2016.
Deemed an effort to compete with the no frills flights offered by Spirit and Frontier, the move by the world’s biggest air travel company is considered a “tipping point” for the “no frills” movement in air travel. Spirit and Frontier are apparently cutting into American’s business by snatching up fare-conscious travelers.
Though American’s announcement excludes specifics, some experts believe “no frills” will compete with existing Spirit and Frontier routes and will mean:
– No seat assignments until 60 minutes before boarding;
– No refunds;
– No exchanges;
– No loyalty miles; and
– Higher checked bag fees.
The announcement was lauded by the editor of Cheapflights.com, who stated, “More competition, like we’re seeing here, generally means good things for consumers, including more options, lower prices and a range of service.”
Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation announced that consumer complaints rose 20.3% for the first half of 2015 compared to the first half of 2014. Most complaints were reportedly about lost luggage, missed connections and delayed flights and most were directed at American, United and Spirit. DOT’s ongoing analysis of consumer complaints can be accessed here: https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/air-travel-consumer-reports
I lean toward the unhappy, complaining side of the equation. In my opinion, air travel is becoming so uncomfortable that I’ll just have to bite the bullet and fly business class. The YouTube video from the “Carol Burnett Show,” taped when smoking was still allowed on airlines, proved prophetic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCz8he36hsk
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