Airlines, still trying to offset their dismal revenue shortfalls due to the pandemic, are now trying a new tactic in just giving seats away, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports.
In August and September, Alaska Airlines ran a 48-hour sale in which an entire three-seat row was offered for the price of a single ticket.
Europe-based Ryanair Holdings, meanwhile, offered 2-for-1 seating specials for flights through the middle of December.
And earlier this year, Southeast Asia’s AirAsia was selling “unlimited passes” that allowed customers to travel as much as they want for periods of time, WSJ reports.
The point of the deals is to get travelers comfortable with flying again after months of fear over catching the coronavirus in small, cramped areas. The deals also help the airlines keep some cash coming in while many flights are still parked for the time being. Carriers’ goals are to get prices low enough to fill a plane to the point where they can break even, according to aviation analyst Mark Simpson. Ticket prices for return trips over Christmas are under $100.
The airline industry is among the hardest-hit by the pandemic, especially since federal financial aid ran out for the companies in October. That, according to the companies, will force them to lay off thousands of people.
Alaska Airlines, usually in the practice of offering 10 to 12 big promotions a year, now runs three a month, according to WSJ.
With Alaska Airlines’ buy-one-get-one-free offer, a pair traveling together can get an entire row for the price of one seat. And the company also offers up to 40 percent off deals when the Seattle Seahawks play at home, as the airline is based in that city.
The company says all of this has been working for them.
“We’re seeing we’re able to stimulate demand in a way we weren’t sure we’d be able to,” said Natalie Bowman, managing director of marketing and advertising, according to WSJ.