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Delta Launches New Fare Classes in Ongoing Campaign of Totally Boning Twin Cities' Flyers

Now coming to the friendly skies: steerage class.

Now coming to the friendly skies: steerage class.

If bitchy flight attendants, crushing bag fees, and draconian rule changes weren't already big enough daggers, flying Delta Airlines will now suck even more.

Delta, your hometown airline based out of Atlanta, introduced a new five-tier pricing structure slated to take effect March 1. Instead of offering just first-class and coach seating, Delta, which controls 75 percent of all flights at Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport, will now be divvying seats into five classes.

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Consider "Basic Economy" the steerage section aboard domestic flights. It's Delta's version of traveling on Spirit Airlines where you'll receive the cheapest fares, but there will be no ticket changes, seat assignments, or upgrades.

The airline maintains it's doing this under the banner of traveler choice, apparently responding to the clamor for more hassles and fewer amenities. But consumer groups are crying foul, saying that the world's largest airline is caving to Wall Street interests who want a bigger return by packing more passengers into tighter seats while jacking up prices.

Says Charlie Leocha, co-founder of Travelers United, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group: "This is a way for Delta, I think, to carve up part of their planes to compete with Spirit Airlines, as this move feels very Spirit-estque. This new system makes pricing more complex. It makes planning more complex, and for the consumer, it adds one more uncertainty to an already uncertain travel experience."

"Main Cabin" will replace what used to be coach and where you'll still be able to pick your seat.

"Delta Comfort+" is the old Premium Economy, the fabulous section within coach where you'll bask in four inches of additional leg room as well as score priority boarding, complimentary booze, and "premium snacks" on longer flights.

"First Class" will feature quilted seat covers, meals on flights longer than 900 miles, free booze, and access to power outlets on many planes. In addition to scary prices.

Then there's "DeltaOne," with seating at the front of the aircraft that boasts comfy linens and lie-flat seats.

Leocha wants to know exactly how the implementation of the airline's new system will impact passengers. He wonders if the new "Basic Economy" section will mean that Delta will be shrinking distance between seats, enabling the airline to add more passengers in tighter quarters.

"Delta has unveiled these new tiers," he says, "but they haven't explained the details."

Messages left with Delta were not returned.

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