The first time I heard about this concept was in mid-spring. A man from the U.K. had, at the time, plans to go to Disney World this fall. He was going to fly “upper class” (the rough equivalent of business class) on Virgin Atlantic and had just received an email from the airline. The message explained that services would be cut and those flying on upper class would only receive one meal and no alcohol; only soft drinks and juices. The man thought that if the airline shouldn’t be charging the same amount if they weren’t providing the same service. He didn’t expect to pay for what he wouldn’t get and thought he should get a partial refund.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when I wrote a post about a guy who wrote, well, a diatribe on an airline’s web page about the cuts in service on his business class flight, yet the price for his business class seat was the same as pre-COVID times. As you can see from the replies, that didn’t go over well with most of the airline’s other passengers; they read him the riot act.
Now fast forward to last week. I have a friend who had to fly about 1/3 across the country for a family emergency. She flew United Economy on the way there and was able to get bottled water (and only bottled water. No snacks.) upon request. She flew Delta on the way home and was offered (read: didn’t have to ask for it) bottled water and a snack. She didn’t think the lack of amenities was worth a discount.
Even if you’re not flying business class, chances are you’ve seen or will see some scaling back. Unless you’re on an airline that never offered service to begin with, you’ve probably noticed, if you’ve flown, that there was little to no food or beverage service. Alcohol may or may not be available, even for sale, depending on your airline and/or length of your flight. Snacks, if offered at all, might be offered in a small bag, without any choice. If you’re lucky enough to get a meal your flight, it may be pre-packaged and served all at the same time, on one tray, instead of in courses.
Obviously, as seen from the examples above, there are some people who believe if they’re not getting the same amenities as before, they shouldn’t be charged as much for their flight. Simply put, they think that if they’re not getting the same bang for their buck, they should pay less.
And then there are those who either don’t mind or can at least justify the service decreases:
- From an economical standpoint, airlines are fighting for their lives right now. We know all the little crazy ways airlines have to decrease a plane’s weight in an effort to lower the cost of fuel usage. With that, we know small cuts here and there, like alcohol, can save them millions.
- And speaking of alcohol, of course that’s going to be the first thing to go. One of the 3 best ways to combat the 2019 Novel Coronavirus is to socially distance. Not that everyone who had an adult beverage or two is going to get rip-roaring drunk or even tipsy, but your guard goes down when you’ve had alcohol and you COULD stop being as vigilant.
- Another way to decrease spreading the virus is by wearing a mask. The more you have to eat and drink, the less you’ll have your mask on.
- From a health point of view, the fewer times flight attendants go up and down the aisles to serve, the less chance they can give possible asymptomatic coronacooties to you, or you to them, or swirl around aerosolized cooties that haven’t been sucked up by the plane’s ventilation system yet.
- Similarly, the less you eat and drink, the fewer times you get up to use the lavatory, which means less chance for spread. (and yes, I know – hydration is important)
- Probably most important from a legal point of view – an airline’s contract of carriage only promises to get you from Point A to Point B. Although food, beverage and even alcohol are nice, none of them are guaranteed. If you’ve booked an upper-class seat and get moved to a lower class one, you may be eligible for compensation of the value between the two classes of seats, but that would be all.
What do you think? If airlines are giving fewer amenities during these days of flying during COVID, should they charge less?
#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands #wearamask
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary