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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 May 11, 19, 6:58 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, 4:08 pm
  #646  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: SEA
Programs: AS G75K, DL GM, IHG Plat, HHonors Diamond
Posts: 798
Originally Posted by PVDtoDEL View Post
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.
As I mentioned in my previous replies, the recent MP de-valuation moves and especially introduction of X fares have driven me to,compare prices and schedule between AS and DL on most ticket purchase I made flying out of Seattle, In some instances the DL main cabin fare were lower than the AS X files, and those were no brainers on what I would do. I had no problem making GM within a year (last year), and this year I am shooting for Plat M. I still value AS' elite benefits, and the MP is still better than Skypesos, but my blind loyalty to AS was gone with all the devaluation and the X fare. At least with DL expanding their SEA presence I am glad I have an alternative to not paying $30 more OW to retain my elite benefits,
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Old Feb 12, 19, 4:09 pm
  #647  
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Portland, Oregon, USA
Programs: AS MVP Gold 75K, AS Boardroom, AA ExPlat
Posts: 846
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 is what you get from marketing-informed corporate messaging these days: they will serve up a big stinking platter of sh*t then tell everyone it's gold nuggets and hope no one notices. Then, of course, if the blowback gets too intense, throw out a little faux pity pulpit candor and see if that works. It's true, the company's net income numbers have been lousy the last few years. The genius CPAs running the company (including Mr. Harrison) have no one to blame but themselves...and the harsh competitive market in which they have chosen to compete.

To be perfectly honest, the Saver Fare snafu has about zero impact on my travel life. But the same sort of smarmy disingenuousness that's been coming from the AS executive suite under Mr. Tilden (hard to forget the apologies to analysts on the Q4 earnings call for giving out excessive upgrades, then the sudden disappearance of many upgradeable fares...and the list goes on) has me moving on from AS. It's a challenge from PDX...and I'm betting that you SEA denizens are having an even harder time...but this airline is offering nothing different from the big legacy carriers with a much smaller route map and, frankly, an unremarkable and shrinking suite of benefits. Best wishes to all the remaining loyalists. It will be interesting to see where this ends up.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 4:19 pm
  #648  
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Programs: AS, New Sagaya
Posts: 460
Originally Posted by icelandman2 View Post
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.
This is what I am curious about - what are competitor rates on these routes before and after Saver? I am not disagreeing with anyone, I am just trying to understand how Saver fares fit into the ecosystem of fares around it on the route. Was Alaska always cheaper pre-Saver and so this is the reaching up to the market demand? Or are they assuming market segmentation will cover the change (e.g. enough business travelers with policies that exclude saver)?

In an ideal market, just hiking fares $30 OW will put you into some trouble as competitors swoop in. Thats what gives me pause. (And noting, the markets are not perfect and in some cases one carrier has you over a barrel.)
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Old Feb 12, 19, 4:54 pm
  #649  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Programs: B6 Mosaic, SPG LT Platinum, UA SIlver, VX eleVAte Gold (RIP)
Posts: 4,258
Originally Posted by williwaw View Post
This is what I am curious about - what are competitor rates on these routes before and after Saver? I am not disagreeing with anyone, I am just trying to understand how Saver fares fit into the ecosystem of fares around it on the route. Was Alaska always cheaper pre-Saver and so this is the reaching up to the market demand? Or are they assuming market segmentation will cover the change (e.g. enough business travelers with policies that exclude saver)?

In an ideal market, just hiking fares $30 OW will put you into some trouble as competitors swoop in. Thats what gives me pause. (And noting, the markets are not perfect and in some cases one carrier has you over a barrel.)
In California they have largely made themselves less competitive. WN prices out their WGA fares at AS saver fare level but you get more. So if somebody were looking for the best value, then WN has a bigger network, allows changes, and allows free checked baggage. On transcons from California, B6 offers rates comparable to AS saver fares so again, the better value for the cost conscious consumer is going to be with B6. Get more for the same fare or less. For business travelers in SF, UA has a much broader network and way more useful partners than AS and those people avoid saver fares anyway, so AS loses out there. Spirit/Frontier/Sun Country are not big players yet in most markets from the Bay Area so they will only attract a very small subset of people. So not really sure who they are aiming for in California. Their best hope of raising fares would be in PWN/Alaska markets where there is limited competition--but of course that would piss off the very people that are most loyal to Alaska.

The letter just makes it looks like management really has run out of ideas as to how to encourage people to pay more for something they either clearly believe is better than the competition or some "enhancement" which could be offered to get people to pay more. Going with the--well we now have the same fares as the legacies but still have a much weaker network and if only the network carriers went away, we could offer you a lower price, is not exactly the greatest marketing message to sell the saver fares.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 4:56 pm
  #650  
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 3,910
Originally Posted by williwaw View Post
This is what I am curious about - what are competitor rates on these routes before and after Saver? I am not disagreeing with anyone, I am just trying to understand how Saver fares fit into the ecosystem of fares around it on the route. Was Alaska always cheaper pre-Saver and so this is the reaching up to the market demand? Or are they assuming market segmentation will cover the change (e.g. enough business travelers with policies that exclude saver)?

In an ideal market, just hiking fares $30 OW will put you into some trouble as competitors swoop in. Thats what gives me pause. (And noting, the markets are not perfect and in some cases one carrier has you over a barrel.)
I think in most markets, AS was basically the same price for the lowest fare. Before that lowest fare was Main; now it's Saver.

Of course there were a few markets where AS wasn't competitive, or the other airlines weren't competitive, but on competitive routes there is generally price matching between carriers. Eg, at a "cheap" time to fly, SFO-NYC is often $127 on AS, UA, and AA.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 5:53 pm
  #651  
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: Seattle
Programs: Alaska airlines
Posts: 136
Fortunately or unfortunately for me I’m wedded to AS due to my most frequent route and the MP benefits I’ve achieved. I can not purchase a saver fare for my business as I’m required to have the flexibility of same day changes or cancellations.

I’m very fortunate to be able to reliably receive upgrades for business trips and use my GGU for personal travel. I have no issues personally or through my business paying the added $30 each way if I thought it would make AS be more competitive as I have a vested interest in the success of this carrier and to maintain my travel schedule needs. However, the saver fares as a category to attempt to attract new fare sensitive customers did NOT lower the price of the lowest cost ticket a single penny. I would have totally understood if AS actually lowered the lowest fare ticket by lets say $15 dollars and thus have an arbitrage of $15, but they didn’t. It didn’t help attract any additional cost sensitive flyers with no need or desire form flexibility. This was disappointing.

The added $60 round trip is a direct 20-30% upcharge for my typical standard round trip. I hope AS is able to attract new passengers with this strictly marketing rebranding of a product without a change in the cost to the passenger because if there is another alteration of the perceived value that I receive and differentiation from DL (mileage based plan for elite status, abiliy to cancel or change my plans without a charge etc) then it will be an easy decision to go to status match and have access to the larger network of DL from Seattle. DL has the same route that I need and I will be following their consistency on this route for this year just in case I need a to reassess my carrier of choice.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 6:05 pm
  #652  
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
Programs: AS MVPG 75K, HH Gold, SPG/Marriott Gold
Posts: 146
Originally Posted by Xrayman View Post
However, the saver fares as a category to attempt to attract new fare sensitive customers did NOT lower the price of the lowest cost ticket a single penny. I would have totally understood if AS actually lowered the lowest fare ticket by lets say $15 dollars and thus have an arbitrage of $15, but they didnít. It didnít help attract any additional cost sensitive flyers with no need or desire form flexibility. This was disappointing.

The added $60 round trip is a direct 20-30% upcharge for my typical standard round trip. I hope AS is able to attract new passengers with this strictly marketing rebranding of a product without a change in the cost to the passenger
EXACTLY! Nothing wrong with AS needing to offer a Y- product in order to lower fares to compete with those that have it - the problem is that they're just making "old Y" the new Y- price, which won't be making them more attractive to any price-sensitive customers than before. Having Y- priced at old-15 and Y at old+15 would be reflective of such a model. What they're doing now is just taking a crap on elite pax by making Y- price the same as before (e.g. no change in competition for low-fare people), while fares with any elite benefits are now just old+30. No difference for the cheap travelers, lots of hurt for frequent fliers.

Originally Posted by Xrayman View Post
differentiation from DL (mileage based plan for elite status, abiliy to cancel or change my plans without a charge etc) then it will be an easy decision to go to status match and have access to the larger network of DL from Seattle. DL has the same route that I need and I will be following their consistency on this route for this year just in case I need a to reassess my carrier of choice.
I'd hate to even consider this. Have always felt that AS was a few cuts above the rest - here's to hoping that they don't continue much more down the devaluation path.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 6:45 pm
  #653  
 
Join Date: Mar 2018
Programs: AS MVP Gold, Marriott Gold, IHG Gold, Hilton Gold
Posts: 60
As a Seattle-based flyer, the introduction of Saver fare didn't change anything--AS fare isn't cheaper than DL now, but it's not more expensive either and AS still has better frequency. Also, WN's fare is actually matched with the standard economy fare, not Saver fare, at least that's the case for ex-SEA flights. I don't see myself switch to DL or WN anytime soon.

I think what AS is saying is that they can't keep competing with matching BE fare and offering full-Econ service, so they have two choices--no introduction of BE and set the price of economy between BIG3's BE & Economy, or start selling BE tickets like the BIG3. They chose the latter but I don't think they are doing it right--for price sensitive customers, they don't really care about the extra benefits of AS BE. As for people who AS is targeting to pay the upfare, the $30 mark up doesn't give them a lot more benefits--probably just more flexibility on selecting seats(which BE customers could also choose before they ran out) and a bit earlier boarding(TBH, what's the difference between Group 3 and 4 anyway)? So in the end only the elites are paying the upfare, and so in the end it seems like just a big f-u to all elites.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 6:50 pm
  #654  
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Posts: 189
In time, we will see if the many changes and cutbacks will work out for Alaska Airlines. Nothing in the past year has made travel on Alaska Airlines less expensive or better for me including the X-fares.

Despite my experience, I see some flights quite filled and I wonder why. X-fares? Expedia? Wide-open status matching? Canceled flights?

It couldn't be that people just get all starry eyed at the new low price guarantee or the 2018 enhanced same day change fees or JD Power awards based on previous year's policies and benefits
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Old Feb 12, 19, 7:29 pm
  #655  
nsx
Moderator: Southwest Airlines
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: California
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Posts: 19,387
Originally Posted by williwaw View Post
This is what I am curious about - what are competitor rates on these routes before and after Saver?
Southwest's intra-California prices are the same, about $59 with 3 weeks advance. Sale fares of $49 are common. I bought some $39 seats a week ago.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 7:52 pm
  #656  
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: PDX/HIO
Programs: AS MVPG; Hertz Pres; Tanquery Million Minier
Posts: 321
Originally Posted by PVDtoDEL View Post
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.
Since we're in wishful-thinking territory, as a non-75K Gold I would settle for them adding G to the list of eligible fares for PE instant ups, and adding M for MVPs. I realize that all 75Ks would rightly ask "yeah but WIIFM?" Still, that would be meaningful if the Gold PE buy-up on discount fares is from X to G instead of X to K.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 7:57 pm
  #657  
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 3,910
Originally Posted by eddiehuang97 View Post
I think what AS is saying is that they can't keep competing with matching BE fare and offering full-Econ service
That is certainly what they are saying! The problem is that this is nonsense, because the service that AS provides on BE and full-Econ comes at the same cost to them.

If anything, offering the ability to change flights for $125 probably makes them money, at least on expensive routes.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 8:46 pm
  #658  
Moderator: Alaska Mileage Plan
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
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The cost (or lack of) to provide a service element really isn't a determinant of what AS should/can charge for it.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 9:39 pm
  #659  
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
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Originally Posted by dayone View Post
The cost (or lack of) to provide a service element really isn't a determinant of what AS should/can charge for it.
I generally agree with this.

However, the email that they sent out says that offering "full economy benefits" at what are essentially saver prices was not sustainable. The implication was that they incur additional cost to provide these benefits, and therefore must charge extra for them in order to keep things sustainable.

My argument is that this is nonsense. They are simply charging what the market will bear and maximizing profit. It was sustainable before (as their profits will indicate). They just make more money now.

I have no problems with a company maximizing profit. I have a big problem with being lied to and told that something that isn't sustainable, when it clearly is.

I would prefer an email that just said "the other airlines charge extra to use elite benefits, so we started doing it too. If you have a problem with that, too bad, because you have to pay regardless of which airline you choose!". At least it would be honest.
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Old Feb 12, 19, 11:42 pm
  #660  
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Seattle, WA
Programs: Alaska Airlines
Posts: 280
Originally Posted by icelandman2 View Post
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.
Well, that's what the email is explaining. AS is basically saying: "For the last approx. 1 year we've been pricing our R fares at prices to compete with BE and we're losing our shirt. So now, we've introduced a proper X fare to compete with BE." and when you read between the lines, you realize that means R fares are going up.

Thing is, when they announced Saver, we assumed it'd be a tier below R - not that it'd be supplanting R and pushing it up. Which is why they had to send this email, due to the backlash because it wasn't communicated properly in the first place.
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