Roughly two years after Finnair and Qatar Airways opened Pandora’s box by introducing business class light fares without lounge access (both) or even checked bags (Finnair), it seems like more airlines are following their example. The second major player to completely exclude a beloved perk of business class tickets are the SkyTeam sisters Air France and KLM. As of today, April 24, 2023, the cheapest business class tickets from these airlines no longer include lounge access.
While checked bags are still part of the fare, the new Business Light fare only includes one checked bag up to 32 kg instead of two in the Business Standard fare. Changing flight dates or passengers now invokes a €300 fee on top of the fare difference.
As their hands were already wrist deep in their customers’ pockets, they took the chance to introduce a Premium Economy light fare at the same time – taking checked bags out of the package. That limits the benefits of premium economy with those two airlines to the onboard experience.
As you might have guessed – prices have not dropped after implementing the new fare types. In most cases, Air France and KLM are simply charging €200 more for services that have been previously included.
The “Much Anticipated” Business Light Fare
Since today, the new fare is home on KLM.com as well as AirFrance.com when trying to purchase tickets. Besides the already existing Business Standard and Business Flex fares, you know have the third option of Business Light:
This allows you to see the new fares’ disadvantages with one look:
- One checked bag of 32 kg instead of two
- Lounge access is no longer included
- A €300 rebooking fee comes on top of the fare difference
The free seat selection has been ousted in March of this year. It is not included in neither the Light nor Standard fare.
We haven’t been able to find a single example in which the fare has lead to cheaper price compared to yesterday. Several Flyertalk users also noted that prices did not decrease.
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Premium Economy Without Checked Bags
As mentioned in the introduction, things in premium economy have also
been improved to give customers additional options gotten worse. The new brainchild of Air France and KLM is named Premium Light and is getting rid of checked bags:
Just like in business, ticket changes now invoke a (slightly lower) fee of €250. Free seat selection has already eliminated in March. At least, there is not much else left in the fare the airlines could charge extra for.
The price trend from business class continues here as well. Compared to ticket prices from last week, where we promoted €720 premium economy from Hamburg to Dubai on our German site, prices have increased. You can now expect to pay €840 for the light fare. Costs are now €960 for a ticket that includes the same services as the €720 ticket did last week.
SkyTeam Tier Benefits and US-Flights Not Affected
For now, it seems like Air France and KLM are wise enough not to anger their existing customer base. Even when booking a light fare, SkyTeam Elite members are still able to check in one bag of 23 kg for free. Additionally, SkyTeam Elite Plus holders can still enjoy lounge access before their flights.
We have checked several connections – the light fares are now available on almost all long-haul flights from/to Europe. The one glaring exception are tickets to the United States. As both airlines tightly cooperate with Delta Air Lines (which has yet to introduce light fares for these travel classes), it seems like they agree to keep a certain standard for transatlantic flights. For now.
There is no reason for euphemisms here: All this just means premium tickets are getting more expensive. More and more European airlines dive into the practice of drip-pricing (i.e. starting with a low base fare that gets increasingly higher by adding previously included “amenities”). In addition to Oneworld member Finnair, SkyTeam members Air France and KLM are now offering lounge access as an extra for business class tickets, rather than an included service. It only seems like a matter of time when the first Star Alliance carrier will follow (we’re looking sternly in your direction, Lufthansa).
Customers will have a harder time to compare prices. Thankfully, metasearch engines like Google Flights, kayak and others continually improve their filters. Travel-Dealz got you covered as well: By putting crucial information about extra-costs directly in the headline, like we always did.
Cover Picture: © Air France
Lufthansa group and SAS already have Light economy fares that don’t give the *Gold baggage allowance. its rather stupid