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Atlanta-based airline launches enhanced travel packages

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Atlanta-based Delta Airlines has rolled out yet another tool in their customer service arsenal. SkyMiles customers will now have the option of purchasing an enhanced travel package, which includes all the most popular perks airline passengers are willing to pay extra for in a single-priced pack. The package is a bit of a risk for the airline, and time will tell whether customers see the new packaging as the convenience it is marketed as, or another way to collect additional fees from passengers.

About the Smart Travel Pack
The new Smart Travel Pack can be purchased for $199 and includes the following features:

• One free checked bag for every passenger flying on the same reservation
• Access to popular seats, such as those in bulkhead or exit rows
• Priority boarding for the entire party flying on the same reservation
• Discounted rates on Economy Comfort seating
• Additional bonus miles for the SkyMiles customer booking the reservation

These perks can also be purchased separately, but the total cost is likely to exceed the $199 benchmark. This is particularly true in light of the fact that a single Smart Travel Pack can be used for up to eight passengers traveling with the SkyMiles customer. The eight additional passengers are only allowed during the promotional period for the program, which ends January 5, 2014, and bonus miles are only added to the primary SkyMiles member’s account.

Once purchased, the Smart Travel Pack can be used for any new or existing travel to the expiration date. To receive the package, customers must simply use their SkyMiles number when they make their reservation.

“We’ve made it simple for customers to add the most popular travel extras that give them added comfort and convenience,” Tim Maples, senior vice president for Delta, stated in the company’s press release. “Our new Smart Travel Pack is a great way for SkyMiles members and their companions to enjoy the additional services while making the most of their budgets.”

Savings in the Math
Normally, Delta charges around $25 for each checked bag and $10 per ticket for priority boarding. Economy Comfort seating can cost an additional $9 to $180, while preferred seats tack on an additional $9 to $59. When you add up the individual costs of all these extras, and multiply those by eight passengers, the savings for the promotional package are fairly clear.

Despite the budget-friendliness of the package, it remains to be seen whether Delta customers will take the bait. Many airline travelers have become fed up with additional fees charged by airlines in recent years, exemplified by the rise in popularity of companies like Southwest, where additional fees are kept to a minimum. In addition, higher fares have pinched travelers’ pocketbooks even further, which have made it difficult for airlines to maintain those higher prices.

Delta is not the only airline offering a package like this. United Airlines recently unveiled an annual subscription for checked baggage, which costs passengers $349 per year. It is still too early to know whether passengers will see these new packages as a customer service boon or another unwanted expense for airline travel.

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