Alaska Airlines is joining Delta, American, and United and launching a basic-economy class — but the cheap tickets come with a catch

  • Alaska Airlines announced that it is going to offer a new discount fare class beginning this fall the Saver Fare.
  • Saver Fare tickets will not be changeable or concealable and those who hold these tickets are not eligible for upgrades.
  • In addition, those traveling with these tickets will board the plane last and will be assigned to seats at the back of the plane.

Alaska Airlines announced on Monday at that it is going to begin selling discount no-frills tickets called Saver Fares.

The low-priced tickets are not changeable or cancellable and will not be eligible for upgrades, Alaska Airlines chief commercial officer, Andrew Harrison announced on the company's Q1 2018 earnings call.

Those traveling on Saver Fare tickets will also board last and will be seated at the back of the plane. Alaska Airlines expects Saver Fares, which will go on sale this fall, to drive as much as $100 million in revenue in 2019. 

RELATED: Check out the top airlines in America:

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9 best airlines in America

9. Hawaiian Airlines

Previous rank: 8

Why it's here: Hawaiian finished last on the TPG list. The Honolulu-based airline's premium ticket prices and Hawaii-centric route network fell victim to TPG new metrics which increased focus on airfare and network size.

8. JetBlue

Previous rank: 4

Why it's here: JetBlue suffered the most significant drop in this year's rankings. The New York-based airline struggled with on-time arrivals, baggage and change fees as well as customer satisfaction. JetBlue's position as a boutique carrier hurts it rankings with respect to the size of its route network as well as the lavishness of its frequent flyer program.

7. Spirit Airlines

Previous rank: 10

Why it's here: Spirit jumped three spots in the rankings due to its improvement in areas such as the number of lost baggage while also benefiting from the missteps of its rivals and the merger of Alaska and Virgin America.

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6. American

Previous rank: 5

Why it's here: American Airlines didn't make many moves apart from a one spot from after the Virgin/Alaska merger. The airline struggled with on-time arrivals, fees, lost baggage, and customer satisfaction.

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5. Frontier Airlines

Previous rank: 9

Why it's here: Frontier Airlines made a surprising jump up the rankings. The ultra-low-cost carrier benefitted from its route expansion and its improvement in baggage handling.

4. United Airlines

Previous rank: 2

Why it's here: United Airlines rocky 2017 caused it to fall two spots, but not for the reasons you'd expect. United saw marked improvement in operational effectiveness with the number customer complaints down 17% while also decreasing the number of people involuntarily bumped from flights. However, the airline couldn't keep up with its rivals in areas such as airfare and the quality of its airport lounges.

3. Delta Air Lines

Previous rank: 7

Why it's here: Delta made big strides in airfare, the involuntary bumps, and its frequent flyer program while maintaining its high rankings in on-time performance, lost baggage, and the size of its route network.

2. Southwest Airlines

Previous rank: 6

Why it's here: Southwest improved four spots over the past year thanks to lower airfare and the expansion of its sizable route network. The airline's stellar customer satisfaction score and its free checked baggage policy also helped.

1. Alaska Airlines

Previous rank: 1

Why it's here: Alaska Airlines maintained its top spot by scoring in the top three in several key criteria including airfare, on-time arrivals, customer satisfaction, baggage handling, and its frequent flyer program.

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Alaska's Saver Fare tickets will function in a similar manner to the unbundled no-frills basic economy fares offered by American, Delta, and United Airlines. However, Alaska was not immediately available to comment on whether carry-on bags will be allowed on board for Saver Fare tickets holders.

Alaska Airlines is also going to implement several new product and policy changes between now and June. Changes include offering exit row seats for sales, dynamic pricing for premium seatings, implementing new technology to better manage revenue, and the elimination of fee waivers for reservation changes made more than 60 days before a trip. 

These additional changes are expected to drive $20 million in revenue this year and another $50 million next year.

On Monday, Alaska Air Group announced a Q1 profit of $18 million, down from the $124 million the company reported last year during the same period. On April, 25, Alaska Airlines and Virgin America will complete the merger of their operations at which point the Virgin America brand will be retired. 

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