War Brewing in Atlanta? That Depends on Your Perspective…

“I t is clear Frontier & Spirit, our country’s two largest low cost carriers, are going after Atlanta pretty hard. While I am surprised there is so much overlap with their new routes, I am confident it will drive prices down”, Shawn Coomer of Miles to Memories posted earlier today in this article. “My guess is that Delta is ready for this fight and will match the prices of their low cost competitors, but only time will tell. I am just glad that it is going to get much cheaper for me to fly to Atlanta from Las Vegas!”

Actually, Shawn, Delta Air Lines has already been ready for this “fight” in the form of Basic Economy airfares, which offers Main Cabin service with fewer flexibility options available in select markets. As I first wrote in this article back in December, although I wrote a trip report on my two experiences in this class of service last year, keep in mind that aspects of it have been downgraded as announced this past October.

What Basic Economy Airfares Entail

Even though both of my experiences as a passenger who purchased E fares last year were positive ones, that does not mean I am thrilled with them and the strict restrictions which come with them, which include:

  • No refunds at all under any circumstance, no matter what
  • No changes are permitted at all at any time
  • Your seat is assigned to you when you check in on the day of your flight — not even when you check in via the Internet before you arrive at the airport

 

You are basically choosing between paying for benefits and saving options. How much money would you be willing to pay to continue to enjoy the benefits you earned as a Medallion elite level member; or — worded differently — how much money would you be willing to save in order to consider doing without some of those benefits?

The same argument is true when choosing between Delta Air Lines and the likes of Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines — both of which are ultra-low-cost carriers.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that if you value your financial bottom line more than any other factor, you have plenty of choices of airlines in Atlanta: Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines and the Basic Economy airfares of Delta Air Lines. Unfortunately, if you value such factors as lounge access, upgrades, frequent flier loyalty programs, flight schedules, changes in itineraries, elite level status, service and seat assignments — without having to endure connecting flights to get to your destination — Delta Air Lines basically remains the only choice in Atlanta.

“Will Delta Do the Same?”

“In other markets where LCCs have entered, we have seen the legacies match sale fares”, wrote Shawn Coomer. “Ever since Spirit began flying from LAS-PHL for example, US Airways has sold fares at incredibly cheap rates to compete. Will Delta do the same?”

I say no — with the exception of the Basic Economy airfares.

Because Delta Air Lines basically remains the only choice when it comes to a full-service legacy airline serving many destinations with non-stop flights to and from Atlanta, I would not be surprised if airfares posted by Delta Air Lines for all classes of service — other than Basic Economy, which was designed specifically to compete with the likes of Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines — remain unaffected despite the low airfares offered by the low-cost carriers.

On the contrary: look for Delta Air Lines to introduce additional flights with the Basic Economy airfare option — especially to the destinations served by Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines out of Atlanta — if they do not already exist on those routes.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

3 thoughts on “War Brewing in Atlanta? That Depends on Your Perspective…”

  1. chris says:

    Southwest is actually the largest low cost carrier in the US, not Frontier or Spirit.

  2. Nick says:

    Is Southwest still a low cost carrier?

  3. Anonymous says:

    @Nick: Yes, Southwest counts as a low cost carrier (lcc)
    @chris: I completely agree, though by some standards JetBlue is…

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