In the U.S., many airlines have downgraded their economy service and rebranded it as “Basic economy” while changing traditional economy seating to “Premium” (basically the same as it always ways).
“Basic economy”, depending on the airline, is also sort of a torture-class – you board last, you may not have a seat assignment until minutes before you board, you can not sit by fellow travelers, you have a middle seat, and carry on and food items may be limited.
But even more important is the “perp” walk effect. By boarding last, you get to walk down the entire plane and put yourself on display as the poor person who can’t afford a real seat. The intent is to make you look bad relative to others.
This uses propaganda methods such as “Get on the bandwagon” (you really don’t want be left out), Dehumanization, name calling (at least silently), possibly a “Desire for prosperity” (wouldn’t you rather be at the front of the plane?). The system is designed to embarrass you relative to other passengers. Next time you’ll know better and buy the more expensive ticket!
Airlines are intentionally embarrassing you because its very profitable to do so. Making service more miserable for economy fliers persuades more people to pay for services that used to be taken for granted. Airlines are now making more money (than ever before) as revenue moves from declining economy ticketing to much more expensive seating.
The economy class cabin is generating about 48 percent of Delta’s revenue, down from 63 percent six years ago, Delta told investors on Thursday
(Disclosure – this is why we fly Southwest! With Alaska as our second choice.)