Carriers Mulling To Abolish First Class Cabin5th Oct 2014
Do business travelers really need something more than what they enjoy in a business class cabin?
This question can now be answered by airlines which are now starting to doubt the need to offer a comfort level to customers more than what they currently offer in business class.
First class cabin usually offers luxurious service and amenities reserved for the most discriminating travelers, most often political dignitaries and top-level corporate executives. Business class, on the other hand, offers service and amenities that cater mostly to the needs of business travelers like a flatbed and working station.
But do they really need these kind of luxury aboard a plane?
Recently, airlines begin to realize that first class cabin is no longer necessary in a flight where there is a business class, as the latter offers almost the same service and amenities as the former.
Air France-KLM Group, for example, has just introduced this year its reclining business-fare berths which can also be found in a first class cabin in other airlines. Most major carriers across Asia, Europe, and Middle East now offer their customers a travel experience in their business class comparable to first class enjoyed by travelers years ago.
American Airlines lead the way in scrapping the first class cabin in 50 of their aircraft. Lufthansa, similarly makes a headway on its own by spending close to US$1.3 billion to improve its business class and reduce the capacity of its first class by 30%. Qatar Airways, the top-rated fast-growing Gulf carrier is also doing the same.
Etihad Airways, the Abu Dhabi-based and national flag carrier of UAE, splurges on its business class on the Abu Dhabi-London route by adding private suites aptly named 'The Residence' featuring a living area, a double bed and, hold your breath, a shower. All for, hold your breath much longer, $20,000! That's one-way ticket!
Virgin Atlantic was the trailblazer in the scrapping of a three-class configuration of an aircraft since the 1980s in its aim to be different from its major rival, British Airways. Instead, Virgin worked hard to innovate its business class by offering technology-led and business-friendly strategy which fortunately worked. In lieu of the in-flight luxury, Virgin offers Club House lounge and a putting green.
Other airlines who gradually or have completely phased out their first class cabins include Qantas Airways, Turkish Airlines, and the LATAM Airlines Group.