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Topic: Price Of Flying First Class Going Down
Username: N808DE
Posted 2004-02-24 22:43:03 and read 3251 times.

Price of flying first class going down
Tue Feb 24, 6:39 AM ET Add Business - to My Yahoo!

By Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY

Airfare wars have moved to the front of the cabin as airlines slash prices for domestic first-class seats.

The price cutting is being led by discounters that offer first-class sections, such as AirTran (AAI), Spirit and America West (AWA). It's widening as major airlines match fares on routes on which they compete.

The lower fares represent a huge turnabout for airlines, which have rarely discounted first class.

Says Matt Bennett, editor of "Premium seats were sacred. There was no discounting - ever." Bennett says fierce competition for customers has changed the rules.

Some discount airlines - not Southwest (LUV), Frontier (FRNT) or JetBlue (JBLU), which remain all-coach - see first-class discounts as a lure to attract business fliers who may have shunned them in the past. "It's the No. 1 requested amenity for business travelers," says AirTran spokesman Tad Hutcheson.

Many of the new, lower first-class fares are non-refundable or require advance purchases. America West, for instance, is charging a non-refundable $998 for a seven-day advance-purchase round-trip ticket on its New York-to-Los Angeles non-stops in first class. It's being widely matched.

That compares with a first-class, fully refundable fare of $2,262. In the first three days after the new pricing went into effect last Tuesday, America West says, first-class purchases more than doubled.

There's more to come: Discounter ATA, the nation's 10th-largest airline, plans to add a 12-seat first-class section to all 60 of its Boeing 737s and 757s by November. Fares will be capped at no more than $798 for any round-trip ticket in the continental USA.

The lower fares, however, come at the risk of alienating frequent fliers using mileage credits to upgrade. America West spokeswoman Elise Eberwein says only 6% of passengers were buying first-class tickets before the change. So even tripling of demand would leave plenty of seats for upgrades, she says.

Northwest (NWAC) is matching America West's $998 first-class fares between Phoenix and Detroit or Minneapolis-St. Paul. But it is sticking by its $1,408 first-class round-trip fare between Detroit and Los Angeles partly to accommodate upgrade requests, says spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch.

Major airlines' first-class deals:

• US Airways (UAIR) has extended through March its $498 round trip to Las Vegas from 100 markets. It offers similar discounts to Montego Bay, Jamaica; Freeport, Grand Bahama Island; and Cancun, Mexico.

• Alaska Airlines (ALK) revamped first-class fares earlier this month so that none is more than $200 above the cost of an unrestricted coach round trip. A Seattle-Los Angeles ticket costs $696, down from $1,054.

Topic: RE: Price Of Flying First Class Going Down
Username: Nwfltattendant
Posted 2004-02-25 00:14:29 and read 3150 times.

Wow.......thats a really expensive drink in first class....and an expensive 2 additional inches. I think ill stick to the exit row, preceded by TGI Fridays in the airport.

Topic: RE: Price Of Flying First Class Going Down
Username: Alert3
Posted 2004-02-25 00:17:41 and read 3143 times.

I agree with Nwfltattendant.... calling it "First class" on HP and ATA is a joke. It's an economy plus with free drinks. Domestic first class is an oxymoron.

Topic: RE: Price Of Flying First Class Going Down
Username: N808de
Posted 2004-02-25 00:32:07 and read 3085 times.

Maybe, but many see value in it.

Personally, $298RT b/w LAX and LAS on HP is worth it. You can drink at least 5 drinks during the 45-min flight and arrive in Vegas w/ a buzz ready to gamble & party.  Big grin

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