Air travel is the fucking worst, everyone agrees, but it is sometimes a necessity. And, when it is, most people just book the cheapest economy flight available to them, regardless of airline, and suck up the indignity of layovers, limited legroom, and cramped baggage space. Now, Delta has introduced an additional indignity to which you must agree before taking your place behind some seat-reclining asshole.
If you book the cheapest class of Delta flight, “Basic Economy,” a popup detailing all of the ways you’ll suffer on your flight will now greet you, asking you to agree to them. Are you aware that you won’t get a refund, you’ll be last to pick your seat, and finding a place to put your bags will be a special modern hell that makes Dante seem quaint and primitive? Click “I agree to the restrictions”—Delta for, “I want to buy a basic ticket for a flight.”
Note that these are the same “restrictions” that have been in place for years, but airlines are starting to realize that no amount of seat shrinkage and nickel-and-dime baggage fees will keep customers who need the cheapest flight available from just buying the cheapest flight available. The seats can’t get any smaller. So the only remaining way to up-sell you to business class is to be honest about how much their product sucks. The only way to squeeze a little more cash from your increasingly cramped pockets is to remind you why you hate flying in the first place.
A passenger rights group, Flyers’ Rights, is justifiably pissed about the humiliating popup, and worried that, if it’s effective, it will spread across the industry. Speaking to the L.A. Times, the group’s president compared Delta to high-pressure car dealers, who are similarly in control of your only viable transportation option and prepared to be dicks about it.
You can vote against this sadistic new marketing practice by taking another airline, but your options are limited: 80 percent of domestic air travel now goes through just four carriers, and one of them is Delta.