We’ve heard from Hawaiian Airlines about their upcoming basic economy offering. They provided some useful clarification on the new Main Cabin Basic offering and why they are moving in this direction. Alex Da Silva, Senior Communications Manager, offered the following:
Hawaiian Airlines: “We have been competing against basic economy fares offered by every major U.S. carrier that serves Hawaii with our full-service product. Adding Main Cabin Basic to our Main Cabin, Extra Comfort and First Class products will allow us to offer competitively priced options to guests who value particular product elements differently.”
Beat of Hawaii: True enough. All carriers will be on a level playing field. We don’t need to like or buy basic economy, but it appears here to stay.
Hawaiian Airlines: “Guests will still be allowed one hand-carry bag and one personal item, and they will earn the standard number of miles on their ticket purchase.”
Beat of Hawaii: To contrast, United Airlines does not allow a full size carry-on in basic economy (only under seat storage). They permit mileage accrual, but not towards elite status. American only allows 50% of normal mileage accrual. Alaska provides both miles and full size carry-on. With all carriers, since you will be boarding last, carry-on luggage may be challenging.
Hawaiian Airlines: “Main Cabin Basic seats cannot be changed or refunded, advance seat assignments are not available, and guests will be in the last boarding group. Once on board, all guests in our Main Cabin will receive the same complimentary meals and snacks, in-flight entertainment and award-winning Hawaiian hospitality for which we’re known.”
Beat of Hawaii: These basic economy rules are pretty much standard across the airlines.
Long time in planning:
This had been in the works for some time. The company said earlier this month that it finally decided to offer a stripped down version of its economy offering in 2019. With its unique leisure market, Hawaiian did not want to alienate its customers.
How will Hawaiian Airlines basic economy be priced.
We expect basic economy to be priced $30 to $50 cheaper each way compared with regular economy. What happens with other airlines’ basic economy offerings, is that advertised specials focus on the price of basic economy rather than regular economy. We’ve seen that recently with Alaska Airlines’ sales. So another way to look at it is that sale prices will increase by up to $50 if you want to avoid basic economy limitations.
Hawaiian Airlines’ Main Cabin Basic features.
1. No selectable seat assignments. These will probably be automatically assigned at or prior to check-in. Their standard economy offering is eligible for you to select a seat anytime at or after purchase, and only premium seating is excluded from what’s available.
2. Last to board. Main Cabin Basic will include a new boarding zone that will be following the current last to board zone 3. This can be concerning when it comes to finding space in overhead bins.
3. No ticket changes after 24 hours. On regular economy tickets, changes are permitted, albeit for a fee. Most other airlines’ basic economy offerings do not offer changes.
4. Hawaiian Airlines offers free food for all economy passengers and we’re glad to see that those in Main Cabin Basic will be included. That was previously mentioned by outgoing CEO Mark Dunkerley, who said, “when you’re going to Hawaii, plunking down that level of household expenditure, you don’t want to be told that you’re so cheap that you don’t rate a meal.”
Basic economy on other flights to Hawaii.
Read our updated Guide to Basic Economy to Hawaii to see how each airline’s offerings compare.
Challenges and benefits of basic economy.
There are challenges facing Hawaiian Airlines as they contemplate how to roll out this significant change. The last thing the Hawaii bellwether airline wants is to have such an offering backfire and insult a loyal client base. ‘
Southwest Airlines on basic economy.
Critics and Hawaii newcomer Southwest Airlines have deemed it, “second class.” Southwest does not offer basic economy and isn’t likely to. Company CEO Gary Kelly had said, “there is a huge value in offering all of our customers – 100% of them – a great product.”
Hawaiian Airlines is soon to face the impact of Southwest Airlines Hawaii flights.
What’s your take on basic economy at Alaska, American, Delta and United, and how do you feel about the upcoming basic economy at Hawaiian Airlines?
Photo above includes both economy and exit row seats on inter-island aircraft.