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U.S. First Class  
User currently offlineNaritaflyer From Japan, joined Apr 2006, 549 posts, RR: 1
Posted (7 years 12 months 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 1609 times:

I'm sorry if this topic has been discussed here before but I'm new here so I'll go ahead and ask the question.

I have travelled to the US quite often and flew First Class on domestic routes on several occasions and J on United on internatinal route on one occasion. My impression of US "luxury" was biased to begin with as I think American companies tend to cheapen the term "luxury" and my experience on those flights confirmed my impression. U.S. domestic First Class should not be called First Class and while I did not experience it on international flights, the J trip I did to Sao Paulo was nothing short of attrocious. It was an umpleasant flying experience from start to finish.

Domestic F is a joke no two ways about it. How Americans put up with that I don't understand it and it's not cheap either. I have flown Air Canada's J class in North America and it beats the U.S. F Class by a wide margin.

Anyone else thinks this way?

12 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineDLKAPA From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (7 years 12 months 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 1609 times:

And they call Americans materialistic and decadent...

User currently offlineDartland From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 643 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (7 years 12 months 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 1594 times:
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Have you ever traveled domestically in the U.S. in Y?

Because if you have spent most of your life in Y, and then happened to get the opportunity to travel a whole bunch in F, you tend to think F class is pretty damn amazing.

In other words -- it's all relative. Compared to Y class, F is pretty nice and has some good features. Compared to int'l or European/Asian F class, it's pretty bad. So it all depends on what comparisons you are making (e.g. what/who is setting the standard?)


User currently offlineEmSeeEye From United States of America, joined Jun 2006, 508 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (7 years 12 months 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 1588 times:

Quoting Naritaflyer (Thread starter):
Anyone else thinks this way?

Only about 99.99% of the flying public.

Quoting DLKAPA (Reply 1):
And they call Americans materialistic and decadent...

 flamed 


User currently offlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 30922 posts, RR: 87
Reply 4, posted (7 years 12 months 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 1564 times:
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Quoting Naritaflyer (Thread starter):
Domestic F is a joke no two ways about it. How Americans put up with that I don't understand it and it's not cheap either. I have flown Air Canada's J class in North America and it beats the U.S. F Class by a wide margin. Anyone else thinks this way?

Well First Class has degraded over the last five years due to mounting losses by the majors and their continued inability to extract meaningful revenue premiums from the cabins (reinforced, in part, to the fact they keep degrading the service). Many First Class seats are not bought with First Class fares, but instead are upgrades from discounted Economy fares redeemed by frequent fliers.

Essentially, domestic U.S. First Class serves the same purpose as domestic European Business Class, but with wider seats and better legroom. Where Euro Business Class still holds the edge is that they provide food service on even short flights, where more and more domestic U.S. First Class flights do not (and Euro Business Class addresses the "elbow room" issue by blocking the middle seats).

As for U.S. Business Class, it is improving (AA has started their new cabin roll-out and UA will do so, shortly) but, again, they have been unable to command the revenue premiums their Asian and European peers have so that has impacted their ability to remain competitive. After all, if I am not mistaken, UA was the first airline to provide an individual suite product in International First Class when everyone else - including perennial favorites like BA and SQ - had paired seats.  Wink


User currently offlineFbgdavidson From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2004, 3706 posts, RR: 28
Reply 5, posted (7 years 12 months 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 1549 times:

I'm with the OP to be frank. Most of my travel within the US (and I haven't done much of late) has been in "First Class" where available. To be honest I don't think the experience is worthy of a such name and that Europeans/Asians are better by naming it business class.

Personally the following things that are lacking from a domestic F class product within the US that need to be reinstated are:

-Lounge access for all those on PAID F tickets. - Personally I'm usually saved by having elite status of carriers that aren't US based and so get access but for those paying four figures for a ticket and not receiving lounge access is pretty poor IMO. Some may say the lounges would get stuffed pretty quickly but if the stats regarding 70% of people in First are upgrades then surely it wouldn't be too bad.

-Meals and snacks regardless of length of flight. - I've been on BA flights that are 30mins long and in Club Europe (the front cabin) I've got a full cooked breakfast and a couple of rounds of drinks. On my last short flight a couple of months back there were 55 people in Club Europe (thanks to convertible seating) and all received the breakfast, cold drinks and tea/coffee. BA First & Club Europe: IAD-JER-IAD (pics + Vids) (by Fbgdavidson Jul 27 2006 in Trip Reports)
Why can't US carriers deliver this service? Cost cutting I hear you cry! Well I'm convinced if the airlines were to offer a decent service with a small amount of investment required more people would pay for it.

Leisure travellers may penny pinch but those looking to fly in comfort are fairly price inelastic customers. Invest $5 into a decent meal and you can add $50 to the price of the ticket fairly easily I'm sure. After all in Europe where the seat in Y is pretty much the same as the one in J, Club Europe and other similar convertible seat products sells pretty well.



"My first job was selling doors, door to door, that's a tough job innit" - Bill Bailey
User currently offlineNaritaflyer From Japan, joined Apr 2006, 549 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (7 years 12 months 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 1464 times:

Quoting Fbgdavidson (Reply 5):
Why can't US carriers deliver this service? Cost cutting I hear you cry! Well I'm convinced if the airlines were to offer a decent service with a small amount of investment required more people would pay for it.

I think you hit the nail right on the head. People would not be willing to pay F fares for a sub-par product because they think you are overcharging them. But if you offer genuine First Class then my hunch is they would pay. It's all about people thinking they get value for money. In the case of the US, while I understand that Y class "'ain't good" as you would say it, First Class isn't much better so why would anyone pay the substantial premium in price?


User currently offlineN62NA From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 4456 posts, RR: 7
Reply 7, posted (7 years 12 months 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 1440 times:

Quoting Stitch (Reply 4):
Many First Class seats are not bought with First Class fares, but instead are upgrades from discounted Economy fares redeemed by frequent fliers.

That would be me!  Smile

Quoting Stitch (Reply 4):
Where Euro Business Class still holds the edge is that they provide food service on even short flights, where more and more domestic U.S. First Class flights do not

Strangely enough, if you are on a mealtime domestic flight in domestic first class on AA of as little as 674 miles, you get a meal - and a hot dinner if it's in the evening (AA flight #1964 MSY-MIA served me a delicious chicken dinner with rice and vegetables plus salad and chocolate cheesecake last night).


User currently offlineSupa7e7 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (7 years 12 months 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 1424 times:

I find it funny that a person says a tradition of the world's largest airline market should change, even though he's neither a creator nor its (real) market.

F is what it is. It's not better because almost nobody is willing to pay for better. Hence, making F better (larger seat, A+ catering) would be a financial mistake. CO isn't bad, however, so the premise is a bit suspect in any case.

Another factor is, US airline fleets are so large that modifying/maintaining them to corporate jet level would take hundreds of millions of dollars, with no safe revenue result.

Maybe it's true that people would pay if it were incredibly comfy and glamorous. UA's PS experiment proves that, but only between a very few city pairs. Another might be JFK-PBI.

So, if DL had a PS product, they could deploy quite a bit of it out of their JFK hub. Or maybe we will see UA expand its PS network, if the premise of this thread is at all correct.


User currently offlineMah584jr From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 509 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (7 years 12 months 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 1378 times:

I think a lot of the reason US does poorly in regards to first class, is relative to their competition. If one carrier lowers the price of an airfare to a certain city then the rest must lower their fares in accordance. If one airline makes you pay for meals, then more than likely, others will do the same. The trend in America has been to try and save the consumer money, regardless of the levels of service. Most Americans just enjoy getting to their destination cheaply, rather than being immersed in luxury. Many think, "What's the point of paying for first class on a 2 hour flight?" Why does one need meal service on a two hour flight at all? You can eat before or after your flight. Not to mention, the food on US flights is poor. These examples are just some of the reasons why Americans use first class the way they do. As for Europeans or Asians, I can imagine that you would be dissappointed with US First service, but I'm not European or Asian so for me I'm quite content. I guess you could say it's just a different culture and different mindset.

User currently offlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 30922 posts, RR: 87
Reply 10, posted (7 years 12 months 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 1350 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

U.S. carriers have come to realize that in many cases First Class is the only weapon they have to not only fight the LCCs (who don't have it) to keep their passengers loyal, but also as one of the few ways to generate positive revenue when the LCCs undercut them so badly on Economy fares - especially the walk-up "extortion fares" where the majors made most of their money. As such, they are starting to restore amenities and quality that was removed post-9/11.

Quoting Fbgdavidson (Reply 5):
Personally the following things that are lacking from a domestic F class product within the US that need to be reinstated are:

Lounge access for all those on PAID F tickets.

AS does extend complimentary Board Room (and possibly even parter lounge, in some cases) access to their paid First Class passengers when travelling on a domestic itinerary. I am surprised none of the other majors have done do, but perhaps they're paid F passenger travel patterns are more loyalty-based and as such already have a club membership. I fly paid F on UA but I am a member of the RCC, too. However, when it's more convenient and where AS has a Board Room, I will take AS since the lounge access is included.

Quoting Fbgdavidson (Reply 5):
-Meals and snacks regardless of length of flight.

Where domestic competition forces them to, domestic US carriers will offer meal service in F. UA stopped serving meals DEN-SEA until AS entered the route, when they brought them back. Same with LAX-SEA, where AS serving meals forced UA's hand to restore them.

Quote:
Leisure travellers may penny pinch but those looking to fly in comfort are fairly price inelastic customers. Invest $5 into a decent meal and you can add $50 to the price of the ticket fairly easily I'm sure. After all in Europe where the seat in Y is pretty much the same as the one in J, Club Europe and other similar convertible seat products sells pretty well.

But how liberal are airlines like BA and LH in allowing upgrades from discounted - even deeply discounted - Economy fares to Club Europe? If they allow loss-leader fares to upgrade, that's going to affect the overall revenue potential of the cabin, which could impact service.

Quoting Naritaflyer (Reply 6):
People would not be willing to pay F fares for a sub-par product because they think you are overcharging them. But if you offer genuine First Class then my hunch is they would pay. It's all about people thinking they get value for money.

Some carriers, like AS, are admitting that First is not significantly better then Economy, but they are no longer charging a significant premium for it, either. AS often matches WN fare-for-fare on many routes, including the ~$300 walk-up fare, but they then offer F for only $100 more. Now AS F might not be as nice as UA F (since it has a bit less legroom and no IFE), but when AS wants $400 for an unrestricted F fare and UA wants $400 for a restricted F or $800 for an unrestricted F, well my money goes to AS.

And even when a fancier F is an option, like UA's three-class domestic positioning flights between their hubs and gateways, not many people are going to pay $1200 for a First Suite ORD-SEA on the 777 when they could get an F seat for $600 on the 757 30 mins later, even though the F suite is far more comfortable, but not like your going to sleep for only 2-3 hours.  Smile For four hours, it's just not worth twice as much since the meal (which is blech, anyway) is the same. Sure, you get nicer and bigger wine glasses on the 777 and the ability to watch 10 channels of video instead of just one, but still... Especially if you can get C on the 777 for $700-800 which will cream F on the 757 and is almost good enough as F outside the seat.

I only fly paid F domestically now, since it's cheaper then doing pointless "mileage runs" to earn enough status and certificates/miles to upgrade. And you can believe value has meaning to me. But I'm not interested in paying $1000 for a lie-flat seat with 55" of pitch and 36 channels of AVOD when I'm flying between SEA and LAX at 7am. I am, however, interested in paying $300 for a 21" wide seat with 38" of pitch and all the water and OJ I can drink.  Smile


User currently offlineBDL2DCA From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 313 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (7 years 12 months 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 1277 times:

I would also add the following two points to the discussion:

1) Domestic First has been around a long, long time. It started when there were only two classes flying - First and Coach. At the time, first class was first class - and it did not matter if you were flying domestic or long-haul. As more and more competition entered the long-haul market (and the price differential between first and coach on long-haul increased), the quality of long-haul first class was forced to rise. That did not happen in short-haul first. While I don't disagree that it would be more aptly named "business class," I doubt you will find a marketing consultant out there who would be willing to reclassify "first" as "business." It would take a rather drastic market shift to make that happen.

2) While my understanding is that businesses in Europe and elsewhere are willing to pay for their staff of a certain level to fly business class, that is not what happens in the US. Most companies will not pay for staff to buy domestic first class tickets these days, except maybe senior executives. The market forces in play have forced the airlines to use first as a loyalty incentive since they don't want to get rid of it completely - some first class tickets are bought, but not enough to fill the cabin. It was really the only way for airlines to adapt to a market where businesses are always pushing costs down. One of the first things the cost-cutting management types did was remove First from corporate travel policies.



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User currently offlineDL4EVR From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 641 posts, RR: 1
Reply 12, posted (7 years 12 months 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 1261 times:

Quoting Supa7e7 (Reply 8):
Another might be JFK-PBI.

I have to disagree with you on that one. I fly that route all the time and there might be 1 or 2 paid pax in F...tops. Despite that many people in the PBI market have money, they don't care about air travel. I've seen very well dressed people, women w/expensive pocketbooks and jewelry, etc, sitting in Y on the JFK-PBI route.



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