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Etihad Airways, famous for over-the-top top-tier products, is the latest airline to join the competition with ultra-low cost and increasingly network carriers for revenue-enhancing unbundled fares. With the launch of its new Fare Choices program, the airline introduces a eight different fare tiers, effective September 14.
The full breakdown of new service is elaborate, but can be quickly summed up as limiting what tickets are eligible for upgrades, reducing perks for Business Class at reduced fare tiers, and leaving First Class policies unchanged.
The airline states it’s also offering some products included in higher-tier fares that would otherwise have to be purchased separately. Etihad states that it wants to make fare choices “fair and transparent.” It evidently also wants to make them memorable, introducing themed categories.
The old Economy becomes Economy Breaking Deals, Economy Saver, Economy Value and Economy Freedom.
Former Business Class becomes Business Breaking Deals, Business Saver and Business Freedom.
First Class gets no special fare tier treatment — only Freedom.
“Ultimately, this is about providing choice. In most industries there is a move towards allowing customers to tailor and customise their experience, and ours is no different,” says Peter Baumgartner, Chief Commercial Officer of Etihad Airways.
“When it comes to booking a flight, not everyone’s needs are the same. Some guests want to travel light and on a budget, whilst others want to be able to make last-minute travel decisions, carry extra baggage or earn more miles. For example, if a guest wants more flexibility, more luggage, and priority check in, they can select our Economy Freedom Fare Choice.”
Others would argue that unbundling various services and features leaves airlines trying to gouge every euro out of their passengers.
Etihad also announced a new baggage fee policy “to more flexibly respond to individual customer needs and better align Etihad Airways and other Etihad Airways Partner airlines.”
The new baggage fees, Etihad states, reduce the costs of carrying extra luggage by up to 90% from current baggage charges. Those who pre-purchase extra baggage allowance (23 kg/50 lbs) directly with the airline, up to 24 hours before departure, get an extra 30% off.