We know first class is on the way out on routes between the biggest business cities. But do travelers want a better-than-business option at a reasonable price?
Do you remember the simplicity of airline economy class? Two decades ago, most airlines had a single cabin, and all seats had the same service, pitch, and width.
No longer. Sophisticated airlines have several sections, such as premium economy, economy with extra legroom, and regular seats. Some even set aside rows with reduced legroom for their most cost-conscious customers.
In business class, though, everyone receives the same service, food, and other goodies. Some airlines charge extra for more desirable seats, but otherwise, the product is standard.
What if there was another way?
As I wrote Tuesday, two Asian airlines are experimenting with a business class-plus experience, offering better seats and service to customers who pay more. Malaysia Airlines calls its product the business suite, while China Eastern uses the name premium business. In each case, the product essentially replaces first class.
This could just be a blip. Or it could be the start of a new era of business class segmentation, said Samuel Engel, a head of the aviation practice at ICF, a consulting firm. We saw this play out in coach. Why not in business? “The natural evolution of this trend of segmentation should also include new segments above business and below first class,” he said.
What do you think? Will we see more segmentation in business class?
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Brexit Forces Airline Caterer to Stockpile In-Flight Meals: If the UK goes through with a hard Brexit, it will be a disaster for many businesses. But at least airline passengers will be fed, short-term. According to Bloomberg, catering companies are already in preparation mode. “Gate Gourmet, which serves 20 airlines at 10 UK airports, is accumulating enough pizza, ice cream, and roast duck (for business class) to see passengers through about 10 days of disruption,” the story states.
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Stocking Up at an Airline’s Garage Sale: The New York Times has discovered the Aviation Geek. Like sports fans who crave game-worn jerseys, these people want to get their hands on decommissioned airline stuff, from seats to silverware to dishes. The Times attended a Delta Air Lines sale recently in Atlanta and published a feature on it. These feature stories write themselves. I should know. I wrote one a few years back for L.A. Weekly.
Skift Senior Aviation Business Editor Brian Sumers [[email protected]] curates the Skift Airline Innovation Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Wednesday. Have a story idea? Or a juicy news tip? Want to share a memo? Send him an email or tweet him.
Photo credit: China Eastern Airlines has dropped first class on its Airbus A350s, in favor of premium business. China Eastern Airlines