Get Ready For Changes With The Airlines
The new year is almost here. As of 2017, it is important to know that there could be changes when you travel. Watch for these changes in the upcoming year that could impact on your travel plans.
Airline Fares Are A-Changin’
It’s already a given that Spirit and Allegiant have set restrictions on seat assignments and carry-ons. Ah, but there are other changes on the horizon. United Airlines is now is taking a tip from Delta Air Lines with its new Basic Economy fares. The BE fares replace the company’s lowest fares in order to be more competitive. Just know that there are some restrictions on the new offering. United’s new low fares don’t allow advance seat selection. A passenger is also not given the opportunity to change seat assignments at check-in either. (Ergo, this is not a good choice for family trips because they won’t always be able to sit together.) There are also no upgrades to Economy Plus, no flight changes, and no carry-ons except for a briefcase or purse. Delta Air Lines also has similar restrictions being put into place at press time. They include such restrictions as not allowing upgrades to a premium seat. (They do, however, permit on a carry-on bag.) While United Airlines no longer will permit elite qualifying miles for passengers desiring Premier status, Delta will continue to do so. United Airlines will, however, allow passengers to earn miles according to the ticket price. American Airlines is also reportedly planning to unveil their own “basic economy” fares. Details have yet to be announced. Critics believe that the goal of all the airlines is to get travelers used to the idea of paying more for a carry-on or to select a specific seat.
2. Say Goodbye To Free Upgrades For Elite Members
Ah, but there’s more, travel fans. Airlines are getting more clever about upselling people to the first class, too. While newcomers might enjoy being able to upgrade, it comes at the expense of all the loyalty program members who had once been promised they could score them free of charge due to their loyalty to one airline. The benefits of working one’s way to elite status are not as rewarding as they once were. Delta Airlines elite members are now more and more being upgraded to middle seats. This is in part due to a fluke of the airline’s requirement that fliers must be upgraded to what’s known as “domestic premium economy seats” (once free to the top elite members). Customers can choose to not participate in the economy “upgrade” by calling Delta Airlines directly or by changing their profile on the website.Delta Air Line’s top status Diamond Medallion fliers (customers who fly at least 125,000 miles annually) will be receiving fewer upgrades in 2017 too. This is because the airline has begun to reduce the size of their first-class cabins and also because they are determined to sell first class seats at a lower price. In 2017 the best a loyal flyer can hope for appears to be a premium economy and the occasional middle seat assignment.
3. You Better Shop Around
Many airlines have reportedly cannibalized a number of the benefits that set them apart from the low-fare airlines. As previously mentioned, scoring an upgrade to first class or even getting into the premium economy is more difficult. The number of restrictive airline fares is also getting too complicated. It’s getting more difficult to redeem frequent flier miles or it just takes more miles for a reward. Some travel experts even note that airlines are making it more difficult to even learn the actual cost of awards. They believe that airlines such as Southwest with their open seating and free checked baggage are going to be the choice of frequent travelers in 2017. Southwest, for example, is less restrictive in terms of flight changes. Their frequent fliers are also now eligible for a yearly companion pass to fly anywhere for free. In fact, the companion pass might just be the best domestic elite benefit in 2017. Get ready to shop around, travel fans, the changes are on their way.