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Reports: Is Southwest Considering a Basic Economy Fare?

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Is Southwest Airlines considering joining its peers at American, Delta and United by adding a Basic Economy fare?

Aviation observers and fliers are seeing signs – including a survey of Southwest’s Customer Advisory Council and online chatter – that seem to indicate such a move is pending.

Although Southwest didn’t use the phrase ‘basic economy,’ USA Today reported that the survey sent to members of Southwest’s customer advisory council asked travelers about proposed names for four fare categories, according to a summary of the names posted on the online frequent flyer forum FlyerTalk.

Southwest already has three different types of fares – Wanna Get Away, there’s AnyTime, and Business Select. In that order, they range from least expensive to most expensive. And, at the moment, all three fares include two huge benefits that allow Southwest to differentiate itself from the Big Three – two free checked bags and no fees to change a ticket.

But many in the industry, frequent fliers included, believe the array of names Southwest offered up in the survey for a fourth type of fare equates to adding a basic economy fare.

Basic Economy is loosely defined as the lowest fare possible, but with passengers forced to give up amenities such as taking carry-on bags on board and being able to utilize overhead bin space.

According to Inc. Magazine, Southwest did not respond to questions asking about the proposed fourth fare. Inc. also said that Southwest, while profitable, is under pressure from Wall Street to increase its revenue and profits.

“The whole psychology of Basic Economy was to get passengers to dislike the concept so much they’d pay more to get merely the same as they did before,” the writer noted. “… If, even for a second, it feels as if the airline is trying to worsen its essential product, it could have a painful effect on the brand as a whole. One of the most difficult maneuvers in business is trying to make more money while keeping your customers emotionally on your side.”

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Strange Odor at Oakland Airport Sends Travelers to the Hospital

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We have seen more issues with strange odors on airplanes in the last year or so than at any time, some so severe they required a diverted landing.

Now comes word that another incident has taken place, only this time it was actually inside the airport.

Four people were taken to local hospitals by the Oakland (Calif.) Fire Department on Tuesday after an unknown substance began giving off a strange odor at Oakland International Airport.

According to Fox News, the odor came from a small box at one of the ticketing counters that is used to discard items that cannot be brought on a plane via carry-on bag – water bottles, bottles of cologne or mouthwash larger than three ounces, etc.

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The airport played it safe and called the fire department, which sent a Hazmat crew according to the NBC TV affiliate in the Bay Area. There was no disruption to airport services, though four people were taken to the hospital to be checked out for precautionary reasons.

This is the latest in a series of numerous reports of odors emanating from a plane or airport just in the last year or so alone, much less beyond that time frame.

Some have been fumes that have forced flights to land.

Some have forced flights to divert to other airports.

Some have been so overwhelming that passengers and crew were hospitalized.

And some have even been visible – if you like your airplane cabin filling with an unknown fog.

The Oakland Fire Dept. is still investigating the cause of the odor.

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