BREAKING: Alaska Airlines to introduce Basic Economy Fares

Well… I suppose it had to happen sometime, right?

Alaska Airlines announced today on their earnings calls with Wall Street Investors that starting in the fall, they would announce a “Saver Fare or Basic Economy Fare.” This saver fare will be very similar to other airlines a way, but apparently quite different. You WILL be able to choose a seat, but you’re going to board last and sit in the back of the plane. The tweet broke today from Tom Banse, a reporter for NPR stations here in the Northwest.

So, what does this mean for us Alaska Airlines diehards? More news to come soon, but I don’t think this is going to affect too terribly much from the beginning. Here’s a couple of things that I see Alaska could potentially do with this.

Sell Packages

Many airlines now offer bundles (Priority Boarding, Meal Service, Priority Check-in etc) and having a saver fare would allow Alaska to do the same. There’s a lot of money out there available in the ancillary services area, so Alaska can capture this.

Alaska's new leg room

Alaska’s new leg room, from Alaska Airlines – Don’t expect to sit here on these basic fares

Upgrades for Top Tier Passengers

Since these fares are not available for upgrade, the passengers paying the most will still be seated in the front. There are times when a 75k or even a Gold doesn’t want to be on the upgrade list. If they’re traveling with their family and they all want to sit together (and save money) this will effectively move them from the upgrade list and make it easier for others to be upgraded.

Fare Sales

I am slightly concerned that the Alaska “Fare Sales” that are issued so frequently will become “Basic Economy Fare Sales.” This is only a prediction of course, but all of a sudden I can see those $49 fares between Seattle and San Francisco becoming only for the Basic Economy fares and the other fares will be more of a higher up-charge.

Alaska Farewell to Summer

Reduced Mileage

Details to come, but I’d imagine that they could also issue a 50%-75% reduction in mileage earning for those tickets. I hope this isn’t the case, but if in the event this does roll out you, as an elite flier, are earning less than 1 mile flown is 1 mile earned, it could be the start of the death knell for Alaska’s AWESOME mileage program, something that I would hate to see go.

More details to follow soon, but this is certainly a huge change for Alaska Airlines. Investors seem to be loving it, as of right now the stock is up over 5% on the day.

What do you think about Alaska’s new Basic Economy Fare?

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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