Airlines began separating full-fare and discounted economy class passengers in the late 1970s. In 1976, KLM
introduced a Full Fare Facilities (FFF) service for its full fare economy class passengers, which allowed them to sit at the front of the economy cabin immediately behind first class, and this concept was quickly copied by several other airlines.
Both United Airlines
and Trans World Airlines
experimented with a similar three-class concept in 1978, but abandoned it due to negative reactions from discount economy class travelers who felt that amenities were being taken away from them. United also cited the difficulty of tracking which passengers should be seated in which section of the economy cabin on connecting flights.
also began separating full-fare economy passengers from discounted economy passengers in 1978, and offered open middle seats for full-fare passengers.
Around this time, there was speculation in the airline industry that supersonic aircraft would corner the market for the highest-paying premium passengers, and that a three-class market would emerge consisting of supersonic first class and subsonic business and economy classes.
In 1977, El Al
announced plans to reconfigure its aircraft with a small first class cabin and larger business class cabin on the assumption that most transatlantic first-class passengers would shift their business to the Concorde.
introduced "Club Class," a separate premium cabin with numerous amenities, in October 1978 under CEO Colin Marshall as a means of further distinguishing full-fare business travelers from tourists flying on discounted fares. Pan Am
announced that it would introduce "Clipper Class" in July 1978, and both Air France
and Pan Am
introduced business class in November 1978. Qantas
claims to have launched the world's first Business Class in 1979.
On November 1, 1981, Scandinavian Airlines System
introduced EuroClass with a separate cabin, dedicated check-in counters and lounges for full-fare passengers. Simultaneously, first class disappeared from their European fleet.