Video: Delta CEO Sees Basic Economy as Way to Show Passengers They Aren’t Getting Ripped Off

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Ed Bastian, the CEO of Delta Air Lines, appeared at the Skift Global Forum in New York City September 27, 2016. Skift

Skift Take: Unbundling has been one of the biggest buzzwords in the airline industry in recent years, and for good reason. Full-service carriers like Delta think it is a great way to hit a broader range of consumers, but it doesn't come without its risks.

— Patrick Whyte

Airlines are finding new ways to slice and dice the passenger product in an attempt to service a broader range of consumers.

This can range from traditional first-class to the recently arrived basic economy, which unbundles things like luggage check-in and onboard food, giving passengers – in theory – more choice.

Speaking at the Skift Global Forum 2017 in September in New York City, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said this increasing use of segmentation was here to stay because it gives customers a greater understanding of what they were paying for.

“We’re an airline and we have great technical depth but we also have to price, we have to sell, we have to market to consumers,” Bastian told the audience. “And we have 200 million people that we carry a year, it’s a massive segment of society. And if you don’t have the tools to distinguish and differentiate in the consumer’s mind as to why they’re paying more, they rebel, they don’t want to pay, they feel like they’re getting screwed.”

During the interview with Skift airline business editor Brian Sumers, Bastian also covered topics such as Wi-Fi, including a new, free texting service; the dispute with Gulf carriers, and the current Bombardier tariff issue.

You can watch the complete discussion, above.

Read more coverage of Skift Global Forum 2017.

At this year’s Skift Global Forum in New York City, travel leaders from around the world gathered for two days of inspiration, information, and conversation, including discussions such as this about the future of travel.

Visit our Skift Global Forum site for more details about 2018 events.

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