In a sign that travel conditions for some passengers are bound to sink to new depths of discomfort, major carriers including American and Delta are slated to unveil a new seating class that could make coach look like a cakewalk.
Somewhat horrifically dubbed “last class” by industry watchers, the seating option marks a bid by larger carriers to compete with the growing popularity of budget airlines such as Spirit, Frontier and Allegiant. Last class, reports USA Today, offers no perks and does away with even the most basic services passengers have come to expect.
With Delta’s “basic” seating, for instance, which launched in select markets last year, tickets are notably cheaper, but passengers cannot make any changes to their reservations or receive refunds or upgrades. There is also no assigned seating, and any extras, including carry-on baggage, come with a price.
American announced that its own alternative, which it is referring to as “no-frills” fares, will go on sale next year.
Airlines have moved toward “densification” in recent years -- or shoving seats closer to one another to squeeze in more passengers -- a trend that many analysts say illuminates how a once luxurious experience has turned into a grueling chore.
But as unpleasant as flying may be today, (a study last year found that U.S. airlines offer some of the most miserable seating options in the world), the emergence of last class shows that it has become a privilege for which people are willing to pay.