As is always and universally the case, the promise of "more options" should have us looking for what an airline's really up to. And indeed there's a pretty brazen underside behind these new offerings. Setting up a class between coach and business wouldn't make any sense if airlines hadn't already removed so many basic amenities from coach. It's the growing gap between first class, business class, and coach class that gives rise to these business-plus and coach-plus bookings. So the trick is to take away benefits, then create a new class with those restored benefits, then announce that you're giving your customers more options. Clever!
In one sense there's nothing wrong with any of that. More than almost any other service industry, the airline industry thrives on precise price discrimination. Nonetheless, there's something unsettling about seeing perks taken away as "unrealistic," only to have them get reinstated at higher price points shortly thereafter. It's not that the move makes no sense, since the higher prices could be critical to covering the perks' costs. It's just that, under this scheme, airlines almost have an incentive to let prices spiral just a little in coach, the better to make amenities exclusive to higher classes.
[Photo: Deepak / Wiki Commons]