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The point of Base fares and high change fees

The point of Base fares and high change fees

Old Apr 8, 19, 2:38 pm
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Join Date: Aug 2008
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The point of Base fares and high change fees

What is the purported rationale behind Base fares and the price differential to normal Economy, given high change fees? Why aren't airlines more flexible to help their upselling?

I recently had to book several flights on Alaska and WestJet (some for me, some for a friend). I'm not a fan of Base fares at all, yet it always ended up being the Base fare, simply because the change fee plus additional cost of Economy would have been more expensive than the total cost of the Base fare ticket.

In other words: The change fees are too high to make it worth "upgrading" from Base to Economy.

So now the carrier has less money because I chose Base, plus they have foreclosed themselves from earning a change fee, and chances are I book with another carrier if my travel plans do change. Furthermore, I have no incentive to let them know if travel plans change, which hurts their inventory planning. Looking at WestJet, who does not overbook, that means an increased chance of an empty seat. On the plus side, the airline saved one WestJet dollar my friend will not earn because it is a Base fare.

Now you may point out the passenger will end up in a middle seat. But on a Q400, there is no middle seat. And even on a larger plane, the passenger may end up in the middle seat anyway unless they pay an additional seat selection fee. (I remember enduring a middle seat in the last row traveling on a very expensive Delta full fare Y.)

On longer distances and more expensive tickets, I can see a point in the Base fare game. But I don't get the rationale when it comes to cheaper tickets. And Base fares are all about cheap.
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