Should You Avoid Ultra Low-Cost Carriers for Corporate Travel?
tl;dr: Rock-bottom fares may appear to save your company money, but they could actually be hurting your business.
You’ve probably been hearing a lot about Basic Economy fares recently (we discussed their limitations for corporate travel here) but these rock-bottom tickets are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of budget air travel.
While the major airlines (American, Delta, United) have begun to introduce Basic Economy as an option, “Ultra Low-Cost” carriers like Spirit, Allegiant, and Frontier have built their entire businesses around the concept. While these airlines continue to gain traction in the US air travel market, there are several reasons why they are NOT good options for corporate travelers.
Spirit pioneered the Ultra Low Cost model by unbundling their services and introducing “Bare Fares.” They nickel and dime passengers by taking services that we have come to expect with a ticket, such as being able to store a bag in the overhead compartment, and charge an extra fee for it. Paying to check a bag is already frustrating enough; paying to bring anything more than a small backpack on your trip takes this frustration to a whole new level, especially when you are traveling for business.
Allegiant and Frontier soon followed suit, and now these 3 carriers offer stripped down fares that also lack the ability to:
- Choose a seat (meaning you might get stuck in a dreaded middle seat)
- Recline your seat
- Have a tray table that can accomodate your laptop
- Enjoy any drink and food/snack service
- Print a boarding pass at the airport
On most flights, these are all add-on options that can be paid for. And if you decide to take advantage of them, you find yourself paying the same premium you would have had you gone with one of the major airlines in the first place. If the total tab is still cheaper than flying on a major carrier, though, wouldn’t you fly on an Ultra Low-Cost carrier?
Well, the price is cheaper for a reason. Spirit, Allegiant, and Frontier consistently round out the bottom of the worst airlines in the US. Compared to the major carriers, they:
- Provide worse service (customer service and in-flight)
- Operate fewer daily flights and routes to re-book you on/through if needed
- More often overbook flights and will give the boot to paying customers
Lastly, note that 1 in 4 Allegiant flights last year were delayed! That’s simply not feasible for corporate travelers who have meetings to fly to. Corporate travel relies on being on time, having flexibility in case plans change, and getting support so that you can focus on the business that you traveled to do.
As Skift aptly puts it, “[These] airlines are selling you pain. They make your experience as uncomfortable as possible so you’ll pay more.” And, once you add all the options that corporate travelers expect and need, you’ll end up paying about as much as you would for a typical, bundled ticket – except you’re getting a worse experience and have a higher chance of having a problem.
So, Ultra Low-Cost airlines are bad for corporate travel because you’re much more likely to be:
- Late (or not get there at all)
- Really uncomfortable
- Unable to get work done
Given all of this, we do not include flights from Spirit, Allegiant, or Frontier on the Lola platform. We make the corporate travel experience as easy and efficient as possible, while these airlines do the opposite.
Forget Bare Fares – We’re your best bet.
Rather than turning to Ultra Low-Cost carriers to try to save money on your corporate travel, turn to Lola.com! From our lower booking rates on major airlines to maximum insight into your company’s travel spend, you’ll be able to cut costs as much as possible without making your employees restricted and miserable on the road. The more issues they have, the more issues you’ll have – so use Lola.com to make your whole team’s life easier.