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Your June essentials: Will Millard on tribal travel; reaching new heights in the Azores; the benefits of beignets; top foodie escapes and much more... Economy is no longer a bog-standard class – airlines are now splitting this category into several option
Who do the new airline cabin classes really benefit?
‘Surely anything that increases airline passenger choice is a good thing’
1 Economy class is being rewritten
Economy class. Its very name is the definition of thrift and prudence. After all, what could be cheaper than that? Well, first came the oxymoron of ‘premium economy’, then we collectively shuddered at the idea of ‘basic economy’. Now airlines are offering several new degrees of budget ticket, but is it too far?
Virgin Atlantic is one of a number of carriers expanding their offerings in 2018, launching three new economy classes: ‘light’, ‘classic’ and ‘delight’, each offering varying levels of convenience and service. So why are they doing it?
“Customers are looking for more personalisation and flexibility,” says Shai Weiss of Virgin Atlantic. “By offering three ways to fly economy, we’re allowing them to choose a product that fits their plans without losing out on their flying experience.” And they’re not the only ones.
United Airlines and Iberia have joined the list of carriers launching premium economy classes in 2018. On face value, it certainly seems like a trend that benefits consumers.
“In my view, surely anything that increases passenger choice is a good thing,” says travel expert Simon Calder. “British Airways is launching new long-haul hand baggage-only fares, and if I can save £100 lugging all my stuff on board and taking advantage of the 46kg cabin allowance, I’m all in favour of it.”
However, not everyone is convinced. With all that choice, it can sometimes be hard to know exactly what you’re getting when booking, and some sceptics have claimed that ‘new premium’ is nothing more than a throwback to what ‘economy standard’ was like in the good old days.
“I have mixed feelings,” says Emily Mcnutt of travel advice website thepointsguy.com. “While it’s good that airlines are offering passengers a more customisable travel experience, it could also get confusing, especially if you’ve been used to getting certain perks with your airline for years.”
But with so many different options, there are undoubtedly more classes to suit most travellers – and these are only likely to grow further. If you do your research before you book, you can nail down the extras that are important to you for your ideal flight. That sounds like just the ticket to us.