Limitations on lowest Econo Fare

Old Sep 5, 19, 5:07 pm
  #1  
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Limitations on lowest Econo Fare

Aside from no cancellations, I see they now charge for changing seats within the 24 hour window. It used to no charge.

This changes the economics since on short haul flights say Edmonton to Vancouver the fare a month our meant the cancellation fee wasn't an issue
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Old Sep 5, 19, 5:12 pm
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Originally Posted by JohnOClark View Post
Aside from no cancellations, I see they now charge for changing seats within the 24 hour window. It used to no charge.

This changes the economics since on short haul flights say Edmonton to Vancouver the fare a month our meant the cancellation fee wasn't an issue
It used to be and still is no charge for the Econo ticket, the Basic fare (lowest price Econo) has always had a charge for seat change other than the system assigned one, since the fare was introduced in Feb 2018.
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Old Sep 6, 19, 12:34 am
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Aerobod is correct ... there is no change to seat selection (or any other features of Econo fares).

Econo: “Fee for advance seat selection”. (But free within the 24 hour check in window)

Econo Flex: “No charge for Standard seat selection”. (Free standard seat selection at any time, and a small upcharge for some preferred seats w extra legroom)

Only their “Basic” fare doesn’t include seat selection. They’ll automatically assign those people to the less desirable seats on the plane because, well, it’s a Basic fare. That’s the product. But those people can choose their own seat if they’d rather — but pay the seat selection fee to do so.

That’s all how it’s always been. Nothing changed.
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Old Sep 6, 19, 11:02 am
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Originally Posted by FlyerJ View Post
Aerobod is correct ... there is no change to seat selection (or any other features of Econo fares).

Econo: “Fee for advance seat selection”. (But free within the 24 hour check in window)

Econo Flex: “No charge for Standard seat selection”. (Free standard seat selection at any time, and a small upcharge for some preferred seats w extra legroom)

Only their “Basic” fare doesn’t include seat selection. They’ll automatically assign those people to the less desirable seats on the plane because, well, it’s a Basic fare. That’s the product. But those people can choose their own seat if they’d rather — but pay the seat selection fee to do so.

That’s all how it’s always been. Nothing changed.
To add insult to injury having a Basic fare does not mean you are paying rock-bottom fares. You could be paying more for your Basic fare than someone else on the same flight payed for Econo or even Econo Flex

As an example dummy booking Oct 15. WestJet from YVR to YYZ - 6 AM flight is Basic: $233.65 ; Econo: $286.78 and EconoFlex: $344.43. While on the 8 AM flight, Basic is $347.68.
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Old Sep 6, 19, 2:41 pm
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A Basic fare is a sucker bet. Nobody should ever buy it. It's an awful product -- on Westjet, and on pretty much every other airline in North America. And you're right: for people who actually pay attention, it's rarely a bargain.

Most other airlines clearly separate "Basic" out from their other economy cabin fares in the booking process. If you book United, for example, you won't mistake their Basic fare for a regular old Economy cabin fare -- they do a good job of highlighting that it's a totally different beast (and even give you the option to filter it out of your search results).

With Westjet, though, some people (like the OP) seem to think that the least expensive Econo fare has changed and now has a bunch of new restrictions. That's not the case. Basic was added in as a new, bottom-feeder fare - in addition to Econo and EconoFlex - while those products didn't change. Unfortunately their booking engine on their website lumps Basic in with Econo and EconoFlex -- with restrictions kind-of clearly communicated, but still appearing as though they all belong in the same family.

If you look at WestJet's social media feeds, it amazes me that, each and every day, people who chose Basic clearly misunderstood what they purchased -- because they are furiously venting at WestJet that they:
  • don't get free seat selection at T-24 ("How dare they expect me to pay, it used to be free!") or
  • that their group of two (or three or four, or whatever) doesn't automatically get seats assigned together even though they're all booked on the same ticket, or
  • that they can't change or cancel because they got the flu / granny got sick / Uncle Joe passed away / they booked the wrong date in error, or
  • they miss their first flight because they showed up to the airport or gate too late (and typically try to blame WestJet for that), and then find that the rest of their ticket is null and void and they need to buy a brand new one ... for all flight segments.
Don't buy Basic. Don't consider Basic when you travel. If you're shopping prices, ignore Basic from each and every airline.
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Old Sep 7, 19, 9:24 pm
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And ULCC's for the same reasons. That 1 euro fare does not mean anything once checking in and checking luggage and actually sitting in your 28" pitch seat. Actually I think some of the EU ones might allow changes vs. no soup for you in which case they are better than WS.

The best part about flying flex premium or business class on the few routes they offer the latter is the separation from the whingers who are outraged at WS honouring their side of the deal.
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Old Sep 7, 19, 11:00 pm
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Originally Posted by FlyerJ View Post
A Basic fare is a sucker bet. Nobody should ever buy it. It's an awful product -- on Westjet, and on pretty much every other airline in North America. And you're right: for people who actually pay attention, it's rarely a bargain.
A quote from AA on it's Basic fares:
“The success of that product in our minds is not how many people buy it, but how many people don’t buy it and choose another product.”
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Old Sep 7, 19, 11:42 pm
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Originally Posted by FlyerJ View Post
A
Most other airlines clearly separate "Basic" out from their other economy cabin fares in the booking process. If you book United, for example, you won't mistake their Basic fare for a regular old Economy cabin fare -- they do a good job of highlighting that it's a totally different beast (and even give you the option to filter it out of your search results).

With Westjet, though, some people (like the OP) seem to think that the least expensive Econo fare has changed and now has a bunch of new restrictions. That's not the case. Basic was added in as a new, bottom-feeder fare - in addition to Econo and EconoFlex - while those products didn't change. Unfortunately their booking engine on their website lumps Basic in with Econo and EconoFlex -- with restrictions kind-of clearly communicated, but still appearing as though they all belong in the same family.
....
I think part of the problem is how opaque this entire process is when booking with a travel agents website and not directly with the airline.
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Old Sep 8, 19, 2:40 pm
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Originally Posted by Fiordland View Post
I think part of the problem is how opaque this entire process is when booking with a travel agents website and not directly with the airline.
True. Still, I think WestJet could do better with differentiating it clearly on their own site. The warning language is all there (I’ve tried a Basic booking, but have never completed it!) ... but I think a lot of people are just clicking through all of the acknowledgments without reading. It’s something we’re all just used to when shopping online. For non travel purchases, I ignore a lot of the fine print too.

They’d be more clear if they didn’t visually show and categorize Basic as part of their Econo family of fares in their online booking. It really should be it’s own category - separate from Basic and Premium - to drive home that it’s very different ... and to help eliminate the confusion and misunderstanding that the OP on this thread had.

Frankly, changing how WS sells Basic could help them with upselling and getting more revenue. In Europe, Vueling (a ULCC) is masterful at the upsell. If you choose the cheapest, ie Basic, fare, you’ll be offered seat selection at a price, earlier boarding at a price, lounge access at a price, prepay your luggage fee at a better price. Not only does that all help them capture ancillary revenue, but the explicit upsell also makes it really, really clear of all the things with a $ value that you’re not getting in the fare that you paid.

But, yes, I think third party travel agent sites are also a big part of the issue. I think that Expedia is pretty clear in their Basic warnings, and I know that my corporate travel agent (CWT) filters out all Basic fares so that our people can’t even buy them if they wanted to. But I’m sure many of the lesser known online TAs and aggregators are not clear.
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Old Sep 8, 19, 6:30 pm
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Originally Posted by FlyerJ View Post


True. Still, I think WestJet could do better with differentiating it clearly on their own site. The warning language is all there (I’ve tried a Basic booking, but have never completed it!) ... but I think a lot of people are just clicking through all of the acknowledgments without reading. It’s something we’re all just used to when shopping online. For non travel purchases, I ignore a lot of the fine print too.

They’d be more clear if they didn’t visually show and categorize Basic as part of their Econo family of fares in their online booking. It really should be it’s own category - separate from Basic and Premium - to drive home that it’s very different ... and to help eliminate the confusion and misunderstanding that the OP on this thread had.

Frankly, changing how WS sells Basic could help them with upselling and getting more revenue. In Europe, Vueling (a ULCC) is masterful at the upsell. If you choose the cheapest, ie Basic, fare, you’ll be offered seat selection at a price, earlier boarding at a price, lounge access at a price, prepay your luggage fee at a better price. Not only does that all help them capture ancillary revenue, but the explicit upsell also makes it really, really clear of all the things with a $ value that you’re not getting in the fare that you paid.

But, yes, I think third party travel agent sites are also a big part of the issue. I think that Expedia is pretty clear in their Basic warnings, and I know that my corporate travel agent (CWT) filters out all Basic fares so that our people can’t even buy them if they wanted to. But I’m sure many of the lesser known online TAs and aggregators are not clear.
Basically we are taking about a product that most people do not want to buy. Perhaps the vast majority. I have only purchased Basic once. (Part of a hotel and flight bundle that I though was a normal economy).

If this is a product that for the most people are buying by mistake or once they realise the consequences they would walk away I think there is a problem with the airline selling the product. Not just WestJet but all of them.
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Old Sep 9, 19, 7:02 pm
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Originally Posted by Fiordland View Post
Basically we are taking about a product that most people do not want to buy. Perhaps the vast majority.
That’s true for seasoned travellers and business travellers — but I don’t think that’s the case for most leisure travellers. And that’s a challenge for WestJet, because their customer base still skews towards vacationers and infrequent travellers. Those folks, I think, will often click on the cheapest fare without any clue of what they’re getting into.

IMO, most of those folks just don’t understand that a ticket from point A to point B (all on the same flight and in the same cabin and with the same level of on-board service) can have three wildly different prices. All for the same seat. A lot, therefore, buy the cheapest — simply not getting that there’s a difference.

For the average consumer (ie not the people who are here on FlyerTalk) that’s as foreign a concept as, say walking into the Bay and seeing three different prices for the exact same pair of jeans. Or going into a Tim Hortons and being told that the exact same large double-double costs $2, or $3, or $4.

Everyone who’s here on FT gets it with airline fares, but to lots of others, it’s nonsensical. Why would I pay more than I have to for what, at its core, is the same thing? And it becomes that much more difficult for the average consumer to comprehend when the differences are purely made up ... just background rules written by an airline person that are, in a sense, artificial.

That leads to gross misunderstanding like the OP on this thread, or like the OP on the other “WestJet is evil because they made me pay to sit with my grandchild” (aka “Westjet more interested in almighty $ than keeping family together”) thread, or like all of the recent bad press stories about ill and terminally ill people buying Basic fares and then WS being too “evil” to allow them to make changes after buying an unchangeable fare.
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Old Sep 9, 19, 8:42 pm
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Originally Posted by FlyerJ View Post
That’s true for seasoned travellers and business travellers — but I don’t think that’s the case for most leisure travellers. And that’s a challenge for WestJet, because their customer base still skews towards vacationers and infrequent travellers. Those folks, I think, will often click on the cheapest fare without any clue of what they’re getting into.

IMO, most of those folks just don’t understand that a ticket from point A to point B (all on the same flight and in the same cabin and with the same level of on-board service) can have three wildly different prices. All for the same seat. A lot, therefore, buy the cheapest — simply not getting that there’s a difference.
...

That leads to gross misunderstanding like the OP on this thread, or like the OP on the other “WestJet is evil because they made me pay to sit with my grandchild” (aka “Westjet more interested in almighty $ than keeping family together”) thread, or like all of the recent bad press stories about ill and terminally ill people buying Basic fares and then WS being too “evil” to allow them to make changes after buying an unchangeable fare.
Exactly. The family going on vacation can probably tolerate a flight being delayed a few hours but not days. People need to get back to work or kids to school. Those Basic fare (and everything to do with Swoop as an aside) is simply evil. It is the airline industry (WestJet + AC + Delta and others) selling their customers a product that does not meet their needs and if they understood what they were buying the consumer would likely walk away from it.

Some may say that is the fault of the Consumer, however I would say the airline is equally responsible. At a minimum the airline should say to this passenger or other, ok we will let you trade this in for what you thought you were buying.

I would argue the target market for Basic and Swoop are people who buy the product in error and then can be forced to pay change or other service fees.
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Old Sep 9, 19, 10:11 pm
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Originally Posted by FlyerJ View Post

In Europe, Vueling (a ULCC) is masterful at the upsell. If you choose the cheapest, ie Basic, fare, you’ll be offered seat selection at a price, earlier boarding at a price, lounge access at a price, prepay your luggage fee at a better price. Not only does that all help them capture ancillary revenue, but the explicit upsell also makes it really, really clear of all the things with a $ value that you’re not getting in the fare that you paid.
The grievous injustice of Vueling is you're a sucker for booking Vueling through Vueling, booking the very same flight as a codeshare will often include luggage and basic seat selection.
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Old Sep 10, 19, 12:07 am
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Originally Posted by Error 601 View Post
The grievous injustice of Vueling is you're a sucker for booking Vueling through Vueling, booking the very same flight as a codeshare will often include luggage and basic seat selection.
Ok, there is an idea. In reverse,... they could have Swoop codeshare on all the WestJet flights. You buy through the Swoop website to pay more and do not have any baggage or advanced seat selection. Special gate agent trained by the Russian soup merchant from Seinfeld.

You then have WestJet codeshare on Swoop and include all the stuff you would expect is included in an airline ticket.
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