Judging by last week’s announcement from Aer Lingus, basic economy fares will be appearing on transatlantic routes.
The new Aer Lingus Saver fares take effect from October 1. They are essentially HBO (hand baggage only) tariffs which are sold at a lower price.
But I believe it’s the first time a conventional carrier has offered this tariff on transatlantic services.
HBO fares are commonplace with most European airlines within Europe.
Some people might think it odd that HBO fares will be offered on long distance routes where travellers stay longer and so take checked baggage.
But younger travellers increasingly travel light and it’s a market which has been successfully won by low-cost carriers like Norwegian and Wow Air. This is the market which Aer Lingus intends to woo.
It’s all to do with the headline price which, because of the HBO fare, is lowest on reservation displays.
Basic economy tariffs have already been introduced by the three big US airlines, American, Delta and United, on domestic routes.
Quoted by US magazine Skift Don Casey, American Airlines senior VP of revenue management, said:
“This strategy [basic economy fares] of unbundling the product [removing some amenities] and creating sell-up opportunities is something that will work in more markets than just domestic.”
“We would expect that in 2018 we would have a form of this product on the transatlantic.”
If American Airlines follows Aer Lingus then surely US rivals Delta and United would join in along with European carriers.