Airlines Are Starting to Introduce “Last Class,” a Seat Worse Than Economy

There’s only one race to the bottom that’s worse than literally barrelling earthbound in a plane crash – and that’s the continued pillaging of our comfort by airline companies.

Sorry for the grim metaphor, it’s just that this kind of news gets us (almost violently) irritated.

The latest service to be offered by airlines is in fact not a service at all. Conversely, it’s the removal of services, even ones that represent the most minimal shred of decency that a company can afford paying customers. According to Travel & Leisure, some airlines – including Delta – have started offering “economy minus” or “last class” travel featuring a severe absence of frills.

Think about that – “last class.” Last class to what? A train from Mumbai to New Delhi? The last class will be hoarded through the skies under these terms:

– The industry’s smallest airline seats — between 28 and 30 inches of seat pitch
– No itinerary changes or refunds
– No “free” carry-on bag
– Meals, snacks, sodas and entertainment are extra
– No advance seat assignments

United Airlines spokesman Jonathan Guerin offered this explanation: “Over time, we’d like to give customers greater ability to choose fares that offer a varied set of amenities, whether they be fares that include multiple options or deeply discounted fares that would simply include the ticket.”

The strategy behind the move is that it will allow major airlines to compete with budget airlines. Reasonable, sure, but it would likely be in the passengers’ interest to either choose to fly EasyJet, for example, if they don’t want frills and fly United, for example, if they do desire a few frills.

The issue goes back to this race to the bottom we’ve been increasingly seeing in the airline industry – over time, “last class” will be the economy class of today and, before we know it, we’ll see the introduction of a claustrophobic class.

We’re already being pushed to the brink – is it too much to ask for lower ticket prices without depriving us of the few scraps of comfort left that stave off the need to ask, “can’t we just swim to Florida this year?”