Emirates has announced that it will start to offer discounted Business Class fares that will no longer include access to the lounge or advance seat selection.
You can access Emirates here.
Once introduced these ultra-Saver fares (not the official name) will prohibit lounge access, upgrades to First Class, seat selection prior to checkin as well as the use of Emirates’ Chauffeur Drive Limousine Service.
There is no news about this yet on Emirates own website but Business Travelers reported about these new fare options and received a statement from Emirates:
… There will be Flex and Flex Plus offered for flights on most routes.
But on some, perhaps less busy, flights and/or routes travellers will also be offered even cheaper tariffs which Emirates brands as “Special” and “Saver”. …
An Emirates spokesperson told Business Traveller: “After carefully reviewing the evolving travel preferences of our valued customers, Emirates will introduce a new “Special” fare for business class, thereby expanding our existing fare options (Saver, Flex and Flex Plus) with even more choice and flexibility depending on their travel requirements.
“Our business class special fares will be offered on certain routes based on seasonal trends in travel demand.
“Passengers booked on a Special fare will continue to enjoy our award-winning services and products on-board, a generous baggage allowance of up to 40 kgs and priority boarding at their convenience.”
Even without proper description of the fare one can use the method of exclusion based on EK’s statement what will still be included. Basically anything they didn’t mention won’t be available under that new fare.
What is Emirates trying to accomplish with this?
Since advance seat reservation isn’t a cost for the airline, the only two items where the carrier will be able to save money is by denying the customer the Chauffeur Drive as well as the Lounge Access. Can a visit to the lounge really make such a big difference for an airline? Maybe if someone would consume a heavy amount of alcohol but a bit of hot food and non-alcoholic beverages!?
The passenger (or the entity booking for the passenger) will have to decide if these benefits present a value that’s worth it to either forego or keep for the sake of the fare difference.
Eventually – at the time of checkin, either online or at the airport – there will be a seat assignment so for a single passenger this won’t be a problem. It could present an issue for families or two people traveling together though.
If booked by corporate travel agents that are looking for ‘Best Price’ I can imagine that the lack of Lounge Access won’t be popular with travelers, especially those who have a layover in Dubai. The Chauffeur Service can be convenient but I don’t like their minimum advance pickup times that often don’t make any sense. I for one try to minimize my time at the airport and don’t like to be picked up 3-3:30 hours prior to departure.