Like the vast majority of you, I don't fly business class.
If you run your own business, you know it's difficult to justify the cost. Additionally, I try to plan longer trips so I'm able to take my family along. (I have two small children and hate to miss any major moments.)
But apparently, you and I aren't who the airlines care so much about.
Latest case in point:
Delta Air Lines has just announced that they plan to be the first carrier to offer a business class section completely made up of suites--airline seats with doors that slide shut, like a mini-hotel room in the sky. (A number of competitors, including Emirates and Singapore Airlines, already offer this in international first class, but not business class.)
Delta's chief marketing officer, Tim Mapes, said that the offering "is meant to be as close to a private jet experience as possible and is driven by our customers, who were telling us that they wanted more privacy," as reported by The New York Times.
The report continues:
Other amenities in the suite include seats that are wider than the average of 21 inches on existing Delta One classes (for competitive reasons, the airline did not release the specific width); roomy stowage compartments for shoes, headphones, and laptops; two consoles so passengers can comfortably spread out their drinks, reading materials, and laptops; and an 18-inch-high resolution entertainment monitor, the largest among United States-based carriers, according to the airline, and bigger than the 11- to 15-inch monitors in Delta One classes.
Wow. If only.
When I read this, I couldn't help but think of my colleague Chris Matyszczyk, who's kept tabs on all the nickel-and-diming policies airlines have instituted lately--from reducing the amount of food they serve to charging you to sit with your children.
And now this.
Heath Harvey put it well in his comment on The New York Times Facebook page:
"Meanwhile, for those of us in cargo...I mean coach...the seats get narrower, the legroom gets shorter, and the experience is generally unpleasant."
Don't get me wrong--I understand why an airline caters to those business and first-class customers. It all comes down to the Pareto principle, also known as the 80:20 rule. United Airlines explained it well in a case study back in 2003:
Based on experience of the airline industry, the model assumes that, for airlines offering a high level of service, 80 percent of profit comes from 20 percent of customers. The profit generating customers are the ones who are prepared to pay a premium price for a premium service. They are the ones that the airline most needs to attract.
But here's the thing: What if an airline found a way to do both? Must standard service to economy passengers continue to decline while the rich get richer?
At least a few airlines are figuring this out. For example, I've found Singapore Airlines to offer a great flight experience, and that's in coach. Incidentally, Singapore also ranks extremely high in its business-class offerings.
But the current trend definitely seems headed in the opposite direction.
So, it's time to speak up, my fellow 80 percenters. Let our voices be heard, in hopes that we can turn the tide!
I don't need a private suite. I'd be completely happy with a decent meal, a little more leg room, and a glass of wine.
Oh...and the hot towel is a nice touch, too.