Empty Seats TATL in Business

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Old May 28, 17, 5:33 am
  #1  
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Empty Seats TATL in Business

IB 6275 MAD-ORD took off yesterday with 16 of 40 business class seats empty. I had been watching award availability for this and surrounding flights since late last year, and nothing showed up.

Several factors can contribute to empty seats-late cancellations, seats held for late sale (at high prices), etc. Factors the other way include non-revs and upgrades.

This still seems a disappointing result for customers and IB Yield Management alike.
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Old May 28, 17, 7:43 am
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Originally Posted by Mountain Trader View Post
This still seems a disappointing result for customers and IB Yield Management alike.
Not really. There were probably 2 people on that flight who booked using miles at T-330 days or so. Everybody else who wanted to fly in J paid the appropriate fare. Revenue management knows much more than you and I about how much to charge for Business Class. The aim is never to fill every seat, but to earn the most cash overall. And having empty seats only adds to the value of those paid seats, due to perceived rarity, comfort, better service, etc.

Giving away seats at the last minute simply builds expectations that the customer can get seats for free by waiting until the last minute. OK... today's give away to you might earn a bit extra in surcharge and use of Avios. Next month's flights will involve people not paying the $5K fare because they think they might get it for free. (or buying a cheaper Y fare and upgrading at the last minute) Overall a net loss for the airline.

Giving away seats also, over the longer term, means that people become less and less inclined to actually pay for the premium cabin. US domestic flights are a prime example. When nobody pays the premium price, then there is no incentive to invest in an attractive product. Everybody loses.

Do I wish that there were more award seats in Business Class? Or course. But that doesn't mean that IB is doing anything wrong by having half empty J cabins.
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Old May 29, 17, 2:18 pm
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They should look at flights 7 days out though and review them. Maybe releasing 2 more seats <T7 . AVIOS are still considered revenue bookings.
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Old May 29, 17, 5:06 pm
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Originally Posted by DELLAS View Post
They should look at flights 7 days out though and review them. Maybe releasing 2 more seats <T7 . AVIOS are still considered revenue bookings.
They constantly look at flights and review loads - that's why avios seats can appear at any time.

If they consistently released 2 more seats at T-7 whenever loads were light, many people would wait until T-7 to book instead of paying up before then.
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Old May 31, 17, 6:13 am
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Originally Posted by Ldnn1 View Post
They constantly look at flights and review loads - that's why avios seats can appear at any time.

If they consistently released 2 more seats at T-7 whenever loads were light, many people would wait until T-7 to book instead of paying up before then.
Not really the majority need to book early for planned events or meetings. I doubt we would see a massive influx of people gambling and then being left with nothing.
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Old May 31, 17, 7:03 am
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Originally Posted by DELLAS View Post
Not really the majority need to book early for planned events or meetings. I doubt we would see a massive influx of people gambling and then being left with nothing.
The people over on the BA forum would disagree with you.

It used to be very reliable to book PE and count on J award space opening up for that upgrade. People with restrictive company travel policies loved it. BA mostly decided to stop releasing last minute seats for this reason. They might, of course, still release more award seats, but not on a schedule that people can get used to.


I would be very surprised if many people booked paid J well in advance. People going on holiday book long in advance. Many business travelers set their meetings a few days in advance and just hop on a plane. Conventioneers aren't necessarily flying in J...
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Old May 31, 17, 7:55 am
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Originally Posted by craigthemif View Post
Not really. There were probably 2 people on that flight who booked using miles at T-330 days or so. Everybody else who wanted to fly in J paid the appropriate fare. Revenue management knows much more than you and I about how much to charge for Business Class. The aim is never to fill every seat, but to earn the most cash overall. And having empty seats only adds to the value of those paid seats, due to perceived rarity, comfort, better service, etc.

Giving away seats at the last minute simply builds expectations that the customer can get seats for free by waiting until the last minute. OK... today's give away to you might earn a bit extra in surcharge and use of Avios. Next month's flights will involve people not paying the $5K fare because they think they might get it for free. (or buying a cheaper Y fare and upgrading at the last minute) Overall a net loss for the airline.

Giving away seats also, over the longer term, means that people become less and less inclined to actually pay for the premium cabin. US domestic flights are a prime example. When nobody pays the premium price, then there is no incentive to invest in an attractive product. Everybody loses.

Do I wish that there were more award seats in Business Class? Or course. But that doesn't mean that IB is doing anything wrong by having half empty J cabins.
Really?

There's a lot more to Yield Management than protecting price points on tickets from real or perceived bargain hunters.

Why not sell upgrades at check-in? I doubt that many flyers who are able and willing to pay $5k for C will risk a 10 hour flight in coach for a chance upgrade at the airport.

A few empty seats-sure. There's a measure of art in the science. But 16 empty seats is wasting an asset.

Of course I have no inside info on IB thinking. Perhaps others do, although this is FT so anyone cam guess.
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Old May 31, 17, 8:11 am
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Originally Posted by Mountain Trader View Post

Why not sell upgrades at check-in? I doubt that many flyers who are able and willing to pay $5k for C will risk a 10 hour flight in coach for a chance upgrade at the airport.
But they do sell upgrades at check in (either with their bidding system or direct offers when you do the online check in). Just not with Avios.
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Old May 31, 17, 8:51 am
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Originally Posted by Yllanes View Post
But they do sell upgrades at check in (either with their bidding system or direct offers when you do the online check in). Just not with Avios.
Obviously not priced to sell, at least for the flight I described upthread.
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Old May 31, 17, 2:30 pm
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My last 4 long haul Iberia flights this year had availability of bidding for upgrades at some point, but the cost wasn't really worth it imho. The odd situation was that these sometimes were pulled off and at points placed back on as an offer. These flights also didn't show any availability for J awards at any point (booked all of them from about 6 months ahead).

I was also surprised to board some of these flights to a near empty J, but I guess they must have some science behind the offering and availability.
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Old Jun 1, 17, 8:21 am
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Originally Posted by Yllanes View Post
But they do sell upgrades at check in (either with their bidding system or direct offers when you do the online check in). Just not with Avios.
Originally Posted by Mountain Trader View Post
Obviously not priced to sell, at least for the flight I described upthread.
Just ask any luxury goods manufacturer what happens to their brand and their profits once they start discounting...

Of course I make myself LOL comparing Iberia to a luxury brand, but the fact that you don't value the cost of a Business Class seat (using cash up front or cash to upgrade on the day) doesn't mean that Iberia should reduce its price to the price point that you are willing to pay. The broader picture is much more important than getting a few extra euros or Avios for a seat up front.
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Old Jun 1, 17, 1:29 pm
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With the whole integration of Tourist Premium, I can't help but think Iberia is trying to elevate Business Plus to a higher level. Iberia used to, in most cases, offer affordable "Business Reduced" fares when booked ahead of time to markets like ORD (I remember flying about three times for about 2100€ RT) and have promos left and right, and also allow you to upgrade for a reasonable price. I wonder if now, when both booking upgrades/award travel, the fact that they have an in between class it will be next to impossible, moreover, while I can understand them wanting to maintain the "allure" of their luxury product, I am not willing to pay 6000€ for a round trip Business fare on Iberia. Their Premium Economy fares from what I was looking at aren't exactly cheap either and more than what I would pay out of pocket for this type of service.
I honestly think Iberia was pressured by IAG to make their service/seating more in line with AA/British and have thus done this, but I know a lot of Spanish/Latin American clients who are their core client might not be too happy about this.
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Old Jun 1, 17, 3:17 pm
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They had great launching fares for Premium Economy, but they are sold fast. Even for business you can still get good prices. My parents are visiting me in the US this summer and I've booked them on LCG-MAD-JFK and then return BOS-MAD-LCG for under € 2000 each on business class. This is two months in advance, peak season, and without any weird routings, hidden cities or the like (the reason for BOS and JFK is because we are going to visit several places along the East coast, so it's an ideal itinerary for our plans). For these flights, Premium Economy cost as much or more than these reduced Business fare.

I think that this is a very good price, although more than what I would pay for myself (in fact I'm travelling in the opposite direction on different dates in Economy). But I have IB+ Oro status so get many of the perks like lounges or baggage allowance and put a very low value on a Business class seat itself.
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Old Jun 9, 17, 11:19 am
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I found these more available for sometimes the South America flights and also coming out to the Orient. Not all having Avios availability, but sometimes you check more often and will find it. Also, many time the pricing fares alone are reasonable. Business class much better with newer seats, too. So not always the bad deal.
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Old Jan 9, 19, 11:23 am
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Originally Posted by Ldnn1 View Post
They constantly look at flights and review loads - that's why avios seats can appear at any time.

If they consistently released 2 more seats at T-7 whenever loads were light, many people would wait until T-7 to book instead of paying up before then.
Sorry to dig up an old thread.

Is it really true that with IB, "avios seats can appear at any time", particularly with transatlantic business?

I've only flown a few IB awards, but I thought they released them once, very early and that's all. The exception might be if someone cancels an award and it pops up.

Have others actually seen IB release awards throughout the year? I'd like to be wrong, but I've been watching a June flight for a while with no luck. Also, I know the seat map doesn't mean anything but only 1 of 29 seats are occupied on this flight and ExpertFlyer shows J9 C9 D9 R9 I5 W9 E9 T9 Y9 B9 H9 K9 M9 L9 V9 S9 N9 Q9 O9 A0, and U0. (I is a business fare.) Thanks.
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