'Is Flying First Class Doomed?'

Old Aug 27, 14, 2:31 am
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'Is Flying First Class Doomed?'

Interesting article which I post here:

http://www.theage.com.au/travel/trav...827-3edw7.html
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Old Aug 27, 14, 3:08 am
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on some airlines maybe but not EK ex DXB.

Demand on certain routes eg JFK and LHR mean F is here to stay. Having recently flown J out to HGK and F back, there is still a fairly big difference between the two.
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Old Aug 27, 14, 4:08 am
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Its definitely doomed for those airlines where people perceive their F offering to be a 'sub-par' experience or not too much different from J. Others where there is a perceptible difference in service levels and the hard product (suites/ residences) will continue to grab most the premium demand, imo.
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Old Aug 27, 14, 5:43 am
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jackiedada, you've summed it up nice & succinctly ^

Most (though perhaps not all) airlines that have managed to survive the economic rollercoaster conditions of the last thirty years or so are now very disciplined when it comes to product segmentation, whilst also very conscious of the need to focus more than ever on their differing customer needs & priorities by region/market/route. And based on the various comments in the article linked by the OP, that's exactly what they're doing.......
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Old Aug 27, 14, 7:08 am
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As the article implied, J class these days on a good airline is just as good, and in some cases better, than F was 20 years ago. I guess there are some people who will always want, and can afford, the full F package, but I'm very happy with J (but I won't turn down an op-up if I can get it)
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Old Aug 27, 14, 7:44 am
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'Is Flying First Class Doomed?'

First Class, esp in the Middle East, is more than just the relative comfort vs business class. It is a statement, " I am independently wealthy and will travel in the highest class available and segregate myself from the poloi who have to turn right when boarding!" EK understand this well and have created a different service model for those F class of travellers. Not saying everyone has that view I am sure most on this forum will travel F after a careful value calculation, but the real premium revenue comes from the price non sensitive traveller who similarly pays full price for a suite in a London hotel.
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Old Aug 27, 14, 10:34 am
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There appears to be a market for very premium F, particularly in the Middle East and Asia. Carriers that are hubbed in those regions seem best positioned to support that demand - EY, EK, CX, SQ. For carriers that rotate aircraft through these regions of the world it does not make economic sense to dedicate a portion of the cabin to a product that does not sell well worldwide. Few carriers have dedicated route-specific fleets and so carriers like AF, KL, AA, BA and so on rotate planes on their route network - something like YUL-CDG-DXB-CDG-PHL, for example. When the premium destinations are a spoke and not a hub it becomes to hard to argue for a premium product.

It makes complete economic sense for these carriers to forfeit potential higher yields on those flights to normalize for the broader demand across their network. I think we will see more and more of this rationalization. I would not be surprised to see BA, LX, UA and QF drop or drastically reduce F (even further than some have already committed to doing). Might even make sense for carriers like KE, JL, NH, CA, CZ and TG to consider it. That square footage can be put to better profit use as premium business class. Even CI learned this with their 77W, which has no F.

Only in cases where a carrier is hubbed in a market that has high ultra-premium demand and can support that with the right product will it survive. EK, EY, CX and SQ seemed best equipped at this point.

What I DO think is interesting is what JetBlue are doing with Mint in the US market. It's a narrowbody business cabin in alternating rows of 2x2, 1x1. The 1x1 are equipped as mini-suites with sliding pocket doors. For now they do not charge a premium over the regular Mint fare for these seats but they will at some point. It's a way to attract travellers who prefer a more private space but are never going to pony up huge amounts of $$ for an F fare. I think that could be a model worth exploring. You'd essentially see planes operating with Y, Y+ (Premium Economy), J and J+ (a few well-planned business seats).

Last edited by dll; Aug 27, 14 at 10:46 am
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Old Aug 27, 14, 10:40 am
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Originally Posted by m3red View Post
on some airlines maybe but not EK ex DXB.

Demand on certain routes eg JFK and LHR mean F is here to stay. Having recently flown J out to HGK and F back, there is still a fairly big difference between the two.
I second this... UA's J and F int'l products are vastly different in my eyes. F is extraordinarily quiet and completely segregated from adjacent passengers... in addition, the seat is far more spacious and comfortable for sleeping, which is what I base my opinion on.
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Old Aug 27, 14, 10:55 am
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Good, well-reasoned post by dll ^
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Old Aug 27, 14, 11:20 am
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It will survive for long-haul routes which cannot easily be reached by private jet. Who would voluntarily submit to the TSA for anything under 6 hours?
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Old Aug 27, 14, 11:32 am
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Originally Posted by JW76 View Post
It will survive for long-haul routes which cannot easily be reached by private jet. Who would voluntarily submit to the TSA for anything under 6 hours?
People who can afford first but don't travel enough to justify a private jet???
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Old Aug 27, 14, 11:48 am
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Originally Posted by JW76 View Post
It will survive for long-haul routes which cannot easily be reached by private jet. Who would voluntarily submit to the TSA for anything under 6 hours?
agreed.
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Old Aug 27, 14, 12:53 pm
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Originally Posted by ukdoctor View Post
People who can afford first but don't travel enough to justify a private jet???
That's why you have jetcharter, netjets and a thousand other identical charter operators!
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Old Aug 27, 14, 1:36 pm
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Originally Posted by JW76 View Post
That's why you have jetcharter, netjets and a thousand other identical charter operators!
I'm curious, how do those compare in price to an F ticket (generally speaking)?
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Old Aug 27, 14, 1:56 pm
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Airlines saying there's no market for F is like auto companies saying there's no market for station wagons. Stop building them, or build only a few ones and do it badly, and then proclaim the market is dead and you all have to buy SUVs now.

There will always be a market for a superpremium cabin, especially as J cabins get larger and less exclusive -- the J decks on A380s are cavernous and house many dozens of passengers. Not what a film star or CEO wants, and contrary to some views they do not all, or always, fly private.

That said there are few airlines left that can muster the service ethic, investment, and commitment to deliver a true international F product -- certainly none of the American ones, and perhaps only LH in Europe. The top ME and Asian carriers will dominate this (admittedly dwindling) market segment in future not only because their native customers want and can afford it but because they are culturally equipped to deliver it.
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