Air travel is an already infamously unpleasant experience, and some airlines will soon offer an even more terrible way to fly. American Airlines and Delta Airlines are now offering what USA Today describes as a “fourth class of service.”
In 2016, American Airlines will begin selling “no frills” tickets, an equivalent of the “basic” tickets Delta already offers. The name for this new airborne experience is “last class.”
Both operate similarly to the way low-cost airlines like Spirit and Frontier do, offering “no changes, refunds, upgrades, or advance seat reservations,” so if something goes wrong with your travel plans, customer service isn’t going to be much help.
“The airlines used to brag about flying the friendly skies,” consumer advocacy group FlyersRights.org’s Kendall Creighton told USA Today. “But that happy slogan has been corrupted into flying the abusive skies.”
Perhaps worst of all, these last class flyers are also placed in seats that have even less space in between them than ever before, an age old problem that’s been made even worse.
Previous research has found that 41% of airline passengers said adding more legroom would be the biggest improvement that airlines could make. A TripAdvisor poll from earlier this year found that uncomfortable seats and limited legroom were the most hated parts of traveling, as 77% of poll participants stated.
In other words, rather than improving, airlines have made things worse in an effort to compete with low-cost airlines.
“Last class exists because the airlines are a business,” Phil Derner, Jr., founder of the industry news site NYCAviation, told USA Today. “The airlines that really need to meet their bottom line in a big way are going to push the limits of what they can get away with, and those particular airlines do so because their passengers allow it by patronizing them.”