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Details/Discussion of Saver (Basic Economy) "X" Fares

Details/Discussion of Saver (Basic Economy) "X" Fares

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Old Feb 26, 19, 7:25 am   -   Wikipost
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How are Saver fares different?

Saver fares do include some restrictions on booking, refunds, changes, and seat selection.

These restrictions include:
  • Limited seating may be available at the time of purchase. Most seats will be assigned at check-in.
  • We canít guarantee that parties of two or more will be seated together.
  • No refunds are allowed beyond the first 24 hours after ticketing.
  • No changes, including same-day confirmed changes, are allowed for Saver fares.
  • No standby is allowed for Saver fares, even for elite status guests.
  • If a guest is a no-show for any flight during a trip, all other flights within that trip are automatically canceled, with no refund available.
  • Saver fares cannot be combined with any other fare types on the same itinerary.
  • Saver fares are non-transferable.

Elite status benefits you do get when you buy a Saver Fare:
* Priority check-in
* Priority boarding group
* Baggage fee waiver
* Express security line at select airports (for MVPG+)
* Refreshments (alcoholic drink or chocolate for MVPG+)
* Complimentary inflight entertainment player - available on coast-to-coast and Hawaii flights (for MVPG75k, while they last)
* Bonus miles (by elite level)

Elite status benefits you don't get when you buy a Saver Fare:
* Access to preferred seating (certain seats behind Premium Class or in the exit rows)
* First Class upgrades, when available
* Premium Class upgrades, when available
* Waived change fees for MVPG+
* Complimentary same-day standby/flight changes for MVPG+

Full info here: https://www.alaskaair.com/content/tr...perience/saver
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Old Feb 12, 19, 11:18 am
  #631  
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I guess they can use this same letter template in a few months to let everybody know how their revenue based mileage program was forced upon them by the bad people on Wall Street and management had no choice but to follow their wishes
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Old Feb 12, 19, 11:18 am
  #632  
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received same email.
My favorite ....."In order for Alaska to be considered by shoppers, we had to REDUCE our Main Cabin fares to match ....."
So, Main Cabin fares became Saver Fares and Main Cabin fares were increased . For us, our usual itinerary increased by 30% in Main Cabin.
Paraphrase- "We needed to make more money and this is one way for us to do it". So sorry....etc
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Old Feb 12, 19, 11:21 am
  #633  
 
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Originally Posted by Eurynom0s View Post
If they'd just come out and said that they'd decided they needed to raise fares, obviously nobody would like it but whatever, that's a thing that happens.
We'd be griping constantly about having to pay at least part of what we're paying in BE buy-ups now but without the same level of indignation. Meanwhile, your typical status-free Kayak shopper who doesn't care about upgrades and changes would just be passing on AS because they're asking more than the competition. Given that they're a publicly-traded company, I really don't think AS had much choice about adding BE once the Big Three went all-in on it.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 11:40 am
  #634  
 
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Originally Posted by jinglish View Post
We'd be griping constantly about having to pay at least part of what we're paying in BE buy-ups now but without the same level of indignation. Meanwhile, your typical status-free Kayak shopper who doesn't care about upgrades and changes would just be passing on AS because they're asking more than the competition. Given that they're a publicly-traded company, I really don't think AS had much choice about adding BE once the Big Three went all-in on it.
But this can't be true, because no fares have gone down with the introduction of saver fares. Fares have stayed the same or gone up.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 11:41 am
  #635  
 
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Originally Posted by metaldirtnskin View Post
The tone of the email was very self-pitying: poor us, we had to do it because everyone else did it, we won't do it again, maybe, unless of course we do.
This was my main takeaway as well. I sent a - well, not strongly-worded, let's say medium-worded - email back to Andrew asking him not to try and pull the wool over my eyes. Elites of all customers know exactly what a Saver fare is, and it is nothing more than a tax for us.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 11:47 am
  #636  
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Originally Posted by jinglish View Post
We'd be griping constantly about having to pay at least part of what we're paying in BE buy-ups now but without the same level of indignation. Meanwhile, your typical status-free Kayak shopper who doesn't care about upgrades and changes would just be passing on AS because they're asking more than the competition. Given that they're a publicly-traded company, I really don't think AS had much choice about adding BE once the Big Three went all-in on it.
When it comes to trying to keep customer loyalty, avoiding inspiring indignation isn't exactly nothing.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 11:57 am
  #637  
 
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Originally Posted by flycal312 View Post
Honestly, I thought it was a pretty good letter and understand where they are coming from. AS's saver fares are more generous than the competition's.
Ironically, I think this is what makes it worse. When flying UA, for example, an elite on a basic economy fare gets treated significantly better than a non-elite - for example, elites get a free checked bag. On Alaska, the difference between a saver and regular fare is not very significant for non-elites (they don't get upgrades anyway, most don't change flights because change fees are expensive, they get assigned seats in the back normally anyway), but for elites they really hurt (no upgrades, no change fee waiver).

I think they would have been much better off if they had been "more generous than the competition" with elites as well, allowing upgrades to premium class at checkin (if there are seats left over) and allowing changes for $125. That way, there would have still been an incentive to buy up to regular economy, but elites wouldn't feel like their loyalty is worthless when flying on saver fares.

Instead, telling elites "we recognize, in some situations, you will pay more for Main Cabin fares that provide the full suite of the elite benefits you're accustomed to" seems like a slap in the face - what he's basically saying: we know that non-elites can now access the cheapest fares with limited impact to them, but we know you'll be willing to pay more to get your elite benefits. The short term benefit for AS is elites paying more to access their elite benefits, and the long term cost is that this devaluation of Mileage Plan will drive elites to fly other airlines which have better networks, schedules, and price points.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 12:06 pm
  #638  
 
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Originally Posted by Buster CT1K View Post
But this can't be true, because no fares have gone down with the introduction of saver fares. Fares have stayed the same or gone up.
I... never said anything about AS fares going down, so I'm not sure what you're getting at.
Originally Posted by Eurynom0s View Post
When it comes to trying to keep customer loyalty, avoiding inspiring indignation isn't exactly nothing.
From the reaction I've seen here, most of us are just griping about the extra costs instead of going free agent. It's established that that 1) BE has raised profitability for other carriers and 2) investors are now demanding that AS match that profitability. Doing so by adopting BE will, as we've seen, produce a lot of consternation and some behavior changes among the FF population. But if you're asking the airline to just raise fares across the board to meet those expectations so you don't have to pay so much to get your F upgrades, you're basically asking all the kettles to subsidize your elite benefits. And I think the kettles have things they'd rather spend their money on.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 12:15 pm
  #639  
 
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I agree the tone reads as "we didn't want to do it but we don't know how to compete in the market otherwise."

Basic Economy as it stands is more often than not a bad value, especially on an airline whose big selling point is loyalty and playing the upgrade roulette game. I get a $110.00 transcon fare is a money losing proposition for Alaska (and by all means, offer them at that rate!), but paying an additional $33.00 on a $260.00 fare to avoid the middle seat in row 32 is a garbage proposition. It's not that you didn't communicate it to your customers, it's that you gave them a bad deal.

Free advice to the Alaska suits-
Basic Economy should serve as a way to unbundle fares and upsell, not as a threat to shake down customers for another $30.00 to get a mystery bag (maybe you'll get an upgrade!).
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Old Feb 12, 19, 2:13 pm
  #640  
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Originally Posted by Eurynom0s View Post
I feel like the ultimate problem here is framing. If they'd just come out and said that they'd decided they needed to raise fares, obviously nobody would like it but whatever, that's a thing that happens. But the doublethink about Saver fares being great for cost-conscious people while putting them at the old baseline main cabin price point pushes it into feeling a bit like they're insulting our intelligence.
THIS. 100%.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 2:24 pm
  #641  
 
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I have not been able to get data to look at this, but I've assumed that pre-Saver the marketplace might look like this for the same route on different airlines:

United: BE $130, Economy $160
Delta: BE: $127: Economy $154
Alaska: $140 Economy

Now this is a made up ideal scenario, so I expect objections there. But suspend disbelief for a moment... Alaska was in a situation where they had to make choice to advertise low enough to show up in OTA searches, but they were not the same product or pricing. So essentially leaving money on the table or getting passed over. I assume this because if the market is moderately well functioning the Economy (non-basic) should now balance out across carriers and routes with some exceptions where one carrier dominates. So for me the question is did the fares go up but go up to match a similar level of other non-basic fares?

As noted here, what complicates this is the market segmentation. There LCC or Ultra-LCC customers going anywhere, the business fares that exclude basic, and the loyalty types that are maybe caught in between. I assume or those with business travel, the big impact would result in being forced onto other carriers because AS is no longer competitive at economy. Haven't heard any concerns there yet. (And my personal experience has been AS is pretty close.)

Disclaimer: I am not an expert, I am not an airline revenue manager, I have enough skills to get on the internet. This post could be full of hooey.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 2:39 pm
  #642  
 
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Originally Posted by williwaw View Post
I have not been able to get data to look at this, but I've assumed that pre-Saver the marketplace might look like this for the same route on different airlines:

United: BE $130, Economy $160
Delta: BE: $127: Economy $154
Alaska: $140 Economy

Now this is a made up ideal scenario, so I expect objections there. But suspend disbelief for a moment... Alaska was in a situation where they had to make choice to advertise low enough to show up in OTA searches, but they were not the same product or pricing. So essentially leaving money on the table or getting passed over. I assume this because if the market is moderately well functioning the Economy (non-basic) should now balance out across carriers and routes with some exceptions where one carrier dominates. So for me the question is did the fares go up but go up to match a similar level of other non-basic fares?

As noted here, what complicates this is the market segmentation. There LCC or Ultra-LCC customers going anywhere, the business fares that exclude basic, and the loyalty types that are maybe caught in between. I assume or those with business travel, the big impact would result in being forced onto other carriers because AS is no longer competitive at economy. Haven't heard any concerns there yet. (And my personal experience has been AS is pretty close.)

Disclaimer: I am not an expert, I am not an airline revenue manager, I have enough skills to get on the internet. This post could be full of hooey.
This is what they're claiming to be doing, and if they were doing it I would be ok with that. However, the reality has been fairly different - a lot of us know exactly what each fare class is supposed to cost on a certain city pair (barring any unusual sales, etc). For example, I know that R-fare SFO-RDU roundtrips are "supposed" to be $190. If AS were to offer a lower fare on X to match the majors (even if Main were now slightly/incrementally higher), I would think very few would fault them. Instead, they're now showing $190 as the X fare (so no prices are lower and they're not, in fact, lowering to match the majors), while I'd now have to pay $220 for the same R fare.

I wouldn't fault AS at all for pricing your above example as 133 for X and 145 for Main - the problem is that they've instead gone out and made 140 X and now ask 170 for Main, which to me indicates it was never about matching a fare offered by any other carrier.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 3:30 pm
  #643  
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Originally Posted by williwaw View Post
I have not been able to get data to look at this, but I've assumed that pre-Saver the marketplace might look like this for the same route on different airlines:

United: BE $130, Economy $160
Delta: BE: $127: Economy $154
Alaska: $140 Economy
Southwest: $140. With 2 free bags and no change fees. Almost as good as MVP Gold on Main Fare for a short haul where a big seat is not as valuable.

Southwest is still at Alaska's Saver price. If Southwest did not exist, or if Alaska decided not to be competitive with Southwest, Alaska's pricing would make more sense. For my intra-California flights booked well in advance, Alaska status seems nearly useless now.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 3:52 pm
  #644  
 
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Originally Posted by williwaw View Post
I have not been able to get data to look at this, but I've assumed that pre-Saver the marketplace might look like this for the same route on different airlines:

United: BE $130, Economy $160
Delta: BE: $127: Economy $154
Alaska: $140 Economy

Now this is a made up ideal scenario, so I expect objections there. But suspend disbelief for a moment... Alaska was in a situation where they had to make choice to advertise low enough to show up in OTA searches, but they were not the same product or pricing. So essentially leaving money on the table or getting passed over. I assume this because if the market is moderately well functioning the Economy (non-basic) should now balance out across carriers and routes with some exceptions where one carrier dominates. So for me the question is did the fares go up but go up to match a similar level of other non-basic fares?

As noted here, what complicates this is the market segmentation. There LCC or Ultra-LCC customers going anywhere, the business fares that exclude basic, and the loyalty types that are maybe caught in between. I assume or those with business travel, the big impact would result in being forced onto other carriers because AS is no longer competitive at economy. Haven't heard any concerns there yet. (And my personal experience has been AS is pretty close.)

Disclaimer: I am not an expert, I am not an airline revenue manager, I have enough skills to get on the internet. This post could be full of hooey.
I'm not sure that I really buy this.

The "extra services" that you get for Main (vs Saver) don't cost AS anything. AS doesn't care whether you sit at the front of the plane or the back of the plane. They don't care if the PE upgrade goes to you or the next guy. You are just paying money to improve your ranking vs other passengers. The difference in services provided doesn't really exist; this is just marketing and PR BS.

This isn't about selling a seat for $30 less; it's about charging you $30 to use the benefits which they claim you earned. The fact that they didn't inform you about it before you started earning is it the really disgusting part. It's a bait and switch. They tell you that if you fly a certain number of miles you will get certain benefits next year, and then when you've met your end of the bargain and it's their turn, they add a $30 surcharge to use those benefits. It's extremely dishonest.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 4:07 pm
  #645  
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Originally Posted by jinglish View Post
I... never said anything about AS fares going down, so I'm not sure what you're getting at.
From the reaction I've seen here, most of us are just griping about the extra costs instead of going free agent. It's established that that 1) BE has raised profitability for other carriers and 2) investors are now demanding that AS match that profitability. Doing so by adopting BE will, as we've seen, produce a lot of consternation and some behavior changes among the FF population. But if you're asking the airline to just raise fares across the board to meet those expectations so you don't have to pay so much to get your F upgrades, you're basically asking all the kettles to subsidize your elite benefits. And I think the kettles have things they'd rather spend their money on.
As has been addressed in some of the comments that came after yours, the issue is that they're telling us "we need to introduce Saver fares to stay competitive" but then did not actually introduce ANY cheaper tickets. NOBODY is paying less than before with the introduction of these Saver fares.
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