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Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by uggboy, Aug 22, 2014.
Three-Class Planes Are an Unnecessary Luxury in Air Travel Today
Then there's always WN, where, as the air crew like to remind you: "all our seats are first class"!
While I'm not particularly amuse'd at the removal of the bouche one way or the other, will this now mean paying for J class service at almost F class prices in order to make up for the loss of those higher priced seats?
I wouldn't necessarily think so... if they're not selling those seats to begin with, they're not out anything removing them. Of course that's basic logic, not airline logic.
If AA offered a credible three-class F product, they might find more people willing to pay for it.
I doubt it. I think most people find modern Business Class with its lie-flat seating so good that they simply see no reason to pay for anything more than that. And those who might pay are flying private jets anyway.
There's a big difference in cost between three class f and private...particularly TPAC. Have you ever priced it out?
The demographic of the paying f vs paying j pax is very different. J pax want a bed and goodies. F pax want privacy bad space...and typically don't care as much for the little goodies. There are numerous customer studies to this end.
I can say with some confidence that the leading foreign flagged premium F products are comfortably profitable for their operating carriers. The market is small for sure...but it is there.
Private is definitely more expensive. By a lot.
That said, there are so few markets where there is demand for F service that it is no surprise that the airlines are cutting it. Even the "famed" F options such as SQ, LH and EK are being trimmed from planes and routes. And that's because, overall, they are not profitable to run on every route. Instead the airlines are getting smart about where to keep them. Even the US carriers.
Sad but true, but.. necessary?
Margins are razor-thin and flying around a bunch of seats which are not sold means losing money. Or at least not making as much as you could. If there wasn't a real opportunity cost in "stocking" the premium product all the time then it is no big deal. But in the airlines world that cost can be rather significant.
The proof is in the pudding: the only reason for the clear trend toward scaling back on 3-class F is that the demand is simply not high enough -- i.e., there are not that many people willing to pay for it, as is or with added perks. So why not increase the supply of C, which is in higher demand and do away with F? It seems like a sound business decision...
This just means business class is going to get better and economy is going to get worse.
And some version of a "premium" economy option will appear. Pretty much all the airlines have something akin to that now. Some airlines are offering a proper Premium Economy with both increased space and upgraded catering. For others it is just a bit more space in one direction (pitch) or two (pitch & width).
This is the same way in which business class came into being in the first place. Airlines wanted to offer something better that Y but not cannibalize F revenues. As business travelers began migrating to that cabin the demand for F decreased. And then some carriers like VS introduced C/J products which competed well with F from legacy carriers and the race was on. C/J became sufficient for the business traveler and the paid F traffic continued to shrink.
At the same time yields were being pressured at the low end with massive capacity increases from new airlines like the Big 3 of the Middle East and other entrants. That led to cramming more passengers in down the back. And now there is a bit of demand for something a bit more comfortable at a reasonable price point.
So, eventually, C will be the new F, and Y+ will be the new C?
You're taking a broad position based on a subset of data. Without having exact data at hand, I also suspect the trend is that there are fewer three-class F seats roaming around the skies today than five years ago.
In certain markets, however, there remains more than sufficient demand for three-class F. Many carriers that offer the product are enhancing it. That trend is a clear indicator that they're making it work financially.
If you look at the trend in F where it is offered....private terminals, private ground transfers, high-walled suites (and now very deluxe high wall suites), showers in the plane, etc didn't exist 8 years ago. AF F getting a complete overhaul, and new enhanced ground services. These sort of luxuries don't get rolled worldwide for unprofitable products.
Perhaps you should consider that while "not that many people [are] willing to pay," there are plenty of markets where more than enough people are willing to pay for a truly premium product.
Even looking domestically...UA pulled F on their transcons, retrofitting their existing fleet, while AA meaningfully enhanced their F on transcons as part of a fleet overhaul. Perhaps one carrier had a successful formula, and one didn't?
Frankly, quite a few carriers are scaling back C inventory as well. In some markets, C demand is lagging.
Responding to specific paying customers demands is a sound business decision.
Divergent views make a market.
Let's not forget that business class began life as full fare coach with airlines pointing out that those who bought the very expensive coach tickets deserved more than seats, amenities, and service exactly the same as what people on very cheap tickets werre getting.
Back to the future?
Not so much. More like this in coach:
Thanks for posting, eponymous_coward! Yes, there's likely much better food in prison. Otherwise, the prisoners would complain loudly and something would be done about it!