Source: Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel
By Arlene Satchell
Since March, Delta Air Lines has been quietly testing a basic economy fare between Detroit and four Florida cities, including Fort Lauderdale.
The new fare is a way to provide another choice for customers looking for deeply discounted fares, Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter said.
Other trial markets are Orlando, Fort Myers and Tampa.
“It’s the lowest published fare, non-refundable and has a number of restrictions,” said Banstetter.
For example, no advance seat assignments or ticket changes are permitted.
Some industry observers say the restrictions are pretty drastic.
“That is quite radical, especially considering that the bare-bones fares aren’t that much lower than ‘normal’ fares,” said George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com.
A basic economy fare for travel July 16 to 23 between Fort Lauderdale and Detroit was recently priced on Delta.com at $229.60, compared with an economy fare of $248.60.
Hobica said the “bare bones” economy fare is being tested in markets where Delta faces competition from low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines.
Delta’s fares on these routes still tend to be higher than Spirit’s, especially when you consider the low-cost carrier’s $9 Fare Club fares and its $24 to $50 off promotional discounts, Hobica said.
Miramar-based Spirit does however allow changes to be made to fares on these routes, he added.
Spirit charges fees of $115 or $125 per person for reservation changes, depending on where they are made.
“The big difference is that Spirit charges for carry-on bags as well as for checked luggage, and they have other fees that Delta doesn’t,” Hobica said.
Delta is the fourth largest carrier at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport with 12.9 percent of total passenger traffic this year through March. Spirit leads with 16.9 percent traffic.
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