Last Class Status Airfares and Seating Is A New Travel Reality
In the very near future, you may be able to buy an extremely cheap plane ticket that only enables you to have a seat on the plane. That’s about it. All of the meager amenities and common services available during in-flight airline services, relatively speaking in comparison with the business and first class sections, that most economy fliers complain about will be stripped away in last class seating. If fliers stand for it or view last class seating as a viable commercial alternative, then be prepared to see the new flight class designation in many airline promotions and marketing ads sometime this year. In fact, some major airlines already began selling last class seating assignments with little fanfare.
What is It?
Major American airline companies, like JetBlue and Delta to name a few, are already selling some form of the last class ticket to consumers. Delta actually began selling a form of the last class ticket called, “basic economy,” sometime in 2012. It may be called, “basic,” or, “no-frills,” or some similar variation. However, they all mean the same thing. To stay competitive with the advent of online ticket buying and the emergence of smaller, regional, budget and boutique airlines, major airlines are unveiling their last class seating arrangements and proposals.
Last class tickets are non-refundable. The can’t be exchanged. They can’t be booked in advance. You probably won’t have a seat number and must sit in any available seat directed to you by cabin staff. Last class seating will be cramped and uncomfortable on purpose with seats placed close together to save on space. (No one will care about your cramped-leg complaints in last class.) Checking in baggage will mean an extra fee in last class. There are no opportunities for upgrades to the last class ticket plane ticket. You will be offered the barest minimal in in-flight services.
The extreme frugality of amenities and service availability to economy fliers may soon be advertised as a perk or privilege in lieu of just paying for a no-frills allowed seat in last class. That may be the whole point. In a bid for higher profit margins, airlines may now try to market economy class as if it is now a de facto, comfort class of travel in comparison to the newly minted last class. If you want to fly multiple hours on an airliner, virtually ignored by cabin staff and with a high probability of being asked to pay for water or respect, then last class may be for you. Every seat on an airplane entitles you to some kind of service, regardless of ticket price. You shouldn’t just let an airline pen you into a plane like cattle with no comfort, stretching space and no in-flight amenities for the sake of a cheap ticket.
There are a few things you can do, besides avoiding last class tickets.Beware of impossibly-low priced airline tickets. There are always hidden fees, they are very restrictive and may entitle you to lesser services. Do your homework. Learn about the reputations and service records of some airline companies and do some customer comparison shopping before you buy a plane ticket. An airline will only treat you in a way that you allow and tolerate. In the end, it is you as the ticket buyer who will allow such treatment. Last class travel may yet prove suitable for people looking to score cheap tickets and do not mind bare-bones services. However, no paying commercial airline fliers deserve to be treated like a hostile stowaway for the sake of a bargain-priced airline ticket. It is currently informal, airline companies have yet to embrace the last class concept fully in public, but last class travel is now ostensibly a fourth-class of air travel that may be here to stay. Only if commercial fliers allow such treatment, that is.