July 3, 2022

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The success of “premium economy class” on planes

For a few years now, airlines from all over the world have been offering seats in distinguished economy, A semester in the middle of the class Economie Is that Business To convince travelers to spend more in return for some advantages. Those who choose it are entitled to wider and more comfortable seating, more room to extend legs, cosmetic kits or better meals than Economie: Airlines use the desire for additional benefits to increase their profits.

Originally Business degree It was invented in the ’90s for those who had to travel for work and needed to do so in peace during the trip or wanted convenience to work better once they got to their destination: for example, it had seats with cushioned headrests and more room to move elbows while staying at the computer .

Most people who travel for pleasure choose class Economie, the basic, which costs less, has fewer services, for example, occupies 70 percent of the seats available for the regular Boeing 737, one of the most popular models of commercial aircraft. Recently, however, the small advantages of Featured Economy (which, for example, British Airways calls it “World Traveler Plus”) also attracts those who travel for pleasure and are willing to spend more so they can give themselves a seat, he writes. L ‘Atlanticlittle bit More attractive”, especially on long trips. That is why it is seen as a trend in commercial aviation and a fairly profitable alternative to airlines, including in Europe.

Lufthansa describe his own Featured Economy As “a new travel experience between Business Class and Economy Class, with greater comfort, better services and more benefits.” On flights between Dubai, Paris Charles de Gaulle, London Heathrow and Sydney Emirates Airlines UAE On the other hand, it promises “the little attention that makes a trip special,” including leather seats, footrests, adjustable headrests, and wood-grain coffee tables. There are similar benefits on long trips too ITA . Airlinesthe airline that took charge of Alitalia since last October: for those who buy a ticket of this type, it offers more room thanEconomie, Discounts on carry-on baggage, welcome drinks and a kit with toothbrush, toothpaste, socks and night masks.

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Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic said that for now Featured Economy he is The most profitable class Among those shown in the respective flights are scheduled. Aviation research firm Counterpoint Market Intelligence estimates that by 2025, airlines will triple supply for this category.

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Rob Britton, associate professor at Georgetown University School of Business and former chief operating officer of American Airlines, explained toAtlantic which was originally Featured Economy Born to attract professionals who are no longer able to travel Business degreefor example due to corporate cost reductions.

Traditionally, in fact, it was the seats for first-class passengers and businessmen that brought airline profits, then over time those in the cabin became relevant as well, at least until it became necessary to propose new services and programs to combat competition from airlines low cost. Another problem was growing and general disinterest For the first category and for this BusinessIncluding following the coronavirus pandemic.

that Featured Economy Also of interest to travelers who have already selectedEconomie It was something of a surprise, if not a “little miracle” for the airlines, he notesAtlantic. According to Britton, one of the reasons is that after a pandemic it is less difficult to spend a bit more on a more comfortable trip.

However, there are those who criticize this type of incentive, as well as those who argue that there are completely opaque mechanisms behind the middle class and other similar systems.

In 2014, competition law enforcement expert Tim Wu coined the term “calculated torment” (“misery calculated”) argue that airlines deliberately offered substandard service to force travelers to pay more for services that were previously free, such as seat selection or hand baggage checks. According to Azma Khan, a marketing professor at the University of Miami, the expectations created by some of the additional benefits would be exaggerated He points in particular to some research in which more legroom or elbows does not improve passenger satisfaction: what makes the difference, if anything, is the seat between one seat and another at eye level “because what matters is the perception of space ».

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