Could Upcharging Be A Good Thing?

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Before we go too far into this article, I offer the following disclaimer: I have never been a fan of upcharging the end customer. However, paying more for services that were free less than a decade ago is now a way of life.

The business of upcharging among legacy carriers began in 2008, when American Airlines became the first legacy carrier to charge a fee for checked luggage. The other two legacy carriers soon followed suit, leading to all checked luggage for non-first class incurring a fee, or waived through holding an airline credit card. This was expanded in recent history, with the further expansion of basic economy and broken-up cabins based on multiple service levels.

Ahead of my latest trip aboard Delta Air Lines, I was given multiple options during the booking process, each for a different option of service. The difference between basic economy and regular economy was a stark $50, while the difference between economy and the premium economy product, Comfort Plus, was only $10.

For the additional fee, I could enjoy complimentary beverages, more legroom and the option to select my seat. Combined with free SkyClub access through my Platinum Card from American Express, I felt like I was getting quite the deal. However, it did made me wonder: is paying the upcharge be a necessary evil in today’s ?

In the case of this trip, it appeared to be a necessary – if not acceptable – charge. For an additional $10 each way, I was given even more perks to make my trip comfortable. The main selling point for me were the complimentary beverage choice, which is usually reserved for first class cabin flyers. Through this one example, I began to understand what airline executives meant when they explained the additional segmentation as a method to “control the experience” instead of collect more money from the regular flyer.

Of course, there are some inherent risks and downsides to this plan as well. First off, even though I have flown in other domestic premium economy products, this would be my first time flying aboard Delta’s premium economy product – aboard a regional jet no less. The reality that I could be oversold for an underwhelming experience is possible. Would I truly get my $10 worth, even if it came in the form of two beverages?

Secondly, there is the truth that, as a consumer, I realize that I fell into the trap that was being set ahead of me. The truth was this soon became a slippery slope that I may have trouble exiting out of on my next flight. How much more would I be willing to pay for future experiences? Would I be willing to nickel-and-dime myself to be treated better on long-haul domestic or international flights?

At the end of the day, I realize that this is all a scale of economy. In the case of my upcoming trips, $10 is not a bad price to pay for upgraded amenities. In the case of future trips, I’m not sure I would purchase this product – unless it was scaled appropriately to the length and time of the trip.

While upcharging the customer is not an ideal situation, it has become a necessary evil of our travels. Through understanding the scale of economy, every traveler can determine if this is a right move for them – or too much cost for too little of a good thing.

 

Have you ever paid more for better service on a domestic flight? Let me know your thoughts – for and against – in the comments below!

Joe Cortez Joe Cortez Joe Cortez is an award-winning journalist and blogger focused on travel, leisure, and loyalty programs. As a frequent traveler, Joe has flown across the United States, Canada, and Europe primarily on award bookings and discounted flights. In addition,...

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  • Annual Fee: $95 fee waived for the first year

  • Foreign Fees: No

  • Card Type: Bank

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  • Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
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  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Breakdown Earn (pt.) Spend
First 3 months 50,000 $4,000
Travel Purchases 2.00 $1
Restaurants Purchases 2.00 $1
Coffee Shops Purchases 2.00 $1
Fast Food Purchases 2.00 $1
Alcohol & Bars Purchases 2.00 $1
All Purchases 1.00 $1
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Source : http://www.frugaltravelguy.com/2017/06/could-upcharging-be-a-good-thing.html

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