malioil
Topic Author
Posts: 142
Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2010 3:19 pm

The Development Of Business Class

Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:55 pm

It would seem that Business Class has come a very long way since it's modest beginnings in the 1970s. Today, the major air carriers seem to be including more and more comfort into their business class seats, making the product border on luxury. As I'm sure we all know, First Class is becoming rarer with every passing day...

My question, or rather query is, how many leisure travelers now utilize Business Class during their travel (paying the fare, not FFP), rather than business people trying to be productive, as was originally intended.

It would occur to me that at the very beginning, the concept was the vast majority of leisure travelers would fly Economy/Tourist Class, while those leisure pax with money would be found in the First Class cabin, and business men/employees on business trips in the Business Class. Obviously, in the modern day the lines between the two premium cabins have feigned. I'm also pretty sure that nobody envisioned the price gap that would emerge, meaning a lot of former First Class pax have now defected to the Business Class. I know many people whose employer no longer pays the First Class fares, for F is now truly about luxury.

My question is, well, what percentage of Business Class passengers are no longer business people, but rather leisure travelers (not necessarily for touristic purposes, but people who are not heading somewhere for business) ?

To what degree does the old model hold- it would seem that the vast majority of First Class passengers today fly for the luxury, not the comfort, something that didn't exist in times gone by.
 
joffie
Posts: 814
Joined: Sun Mar 26, 2006 5:45 pm

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:13 pm

Interesting topic,

Certainly, the price of Business Class has dropped significantly over the last few years, thanks to increased competition, however at the same time companies are more reluctant to spend the money and just put their employees on Y or Y+. Some may have a policy to put them in J for longer flights.

In relation to first class, more airlines are dropping it in favor of enhancing J and introducing Y+. I think a lot of people buy a Y ticket, then treat themselves and use points to upgrade to J instead of buying J outright.

I do travel J a fair bit, however always look around for the cheapest option. You can be amazed how cheap it can be, and not that much more then Y. I am talking a few hundred dollars for lounge, more luggage allowance, separate check in so you don't have to line up with 200 other people, better food, seats and service ect, so J class can be worth it.

I know people who would never fly J because they think it is a waste of money, but everyone has their own taste. Its funny, you can book a budget airline, but by the time you add on everything, you may as well fly with a full service carrier for that added comfort.
 
jfk777
Posts: 5830
Joined: Tue Aug 22, 2006 7:23 am

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:54 pm

Business Class will be the top Class for most, First will be a Suite product with airlines like BA, Emirates and Singapore Air. IT will be on A380, 777 and 748's.
 
User avatar
Stitch
Posts: 22953
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2005 4:26 am

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:57 pm

Quoting malioil (Thread starter):
My question, or rather query is, how many leisure travelers now utilize Business Class during their travel (paying the fare, not FFP), rather than business people trying to be productive, as was originally intended.

I've heard reported that during the real estate boom leading up to the GFC, some people used their home refinancing to finance leisure travel which included a Business Class fare.
 
RamblinMan
Posts: 785
Joined: Sat Oct 09, 2010 3:57 pm

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Fri Mar 16, 2012 2:36 am

Well you have to consider that just because a leisure pax wants to book a premium cabin doesn't mean he isn't price-sensitive. And I think most would consider J to be a much better value than F. Personally while I often at least consider buying J class, I never even look at F except out of curiosity. Never flown international F- just doesn't seem to be enough of a step up from J to be remotely worth it. One day I will when I have the miles...and hopefully I dont get too spoiled.

Quoting Stitch (Reply 3):
I've heard reported that during the real estate boom leading up to the GFC, some people used their home refinancing to finance leisure travel which included a Business Class fare.

Oh dear god. no wonder it all came crashing down so hard.
 
hb88
Posts: 760
Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2005 1:25 am

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:08 pm

I recently flew business class long haul for leisure. I paid for it myself and enjoyed it immensely. QR really do have a world-class product. I travel a lot in bus for work so it was a real treat to be able to relax and enjoy the experience and not spend the flight hunched over a laptop.

When you pay for it yourself, it becomes part of the holiday. It's different travelling on someone elses dime.
 
bjorn14
Posts: 3551
Joined: Sat Feb 27, 2010 2:11 pm

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Fri Mar 16, 2012 2:06 pm

Quoting malioil (Thread starter):
rather than business people trying to be productive, as was originally intended.
Quoting malioil (Thread starter):
I know many people whose employer no longer pays the First Class fares, for F is now truly about luxury.

I believe the development of J class came from the backlash of a big economic downturn in the late 70's/early 80's when the sound of 'First Class' just didn't sit well with the bean counters. Airlines essentially started calling their F product by a J name.
"I want to know the voice of God the rest is just details" --A. Einstein
 
jfk777
Posts: 5830
Joined: Tue Aug 22, 2006 7:23 am

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Fri Mar 16, 2012 2:14 pm

Quoting bjorn14 (Reply 6):
I believe the development of J class came from the backlash of a big economic downturn in the late 70's/early 80's when the sound of 'First Class' just didn't sit well with the bean counters. Airlines essentially started calling their F product by a J name.

Another rarely fact about J class early days is, that was the time when 747 were first widely used and the space for a "Second Class" became available. On a 707 or Dc-8 things were different, First Class then was half the space on a plane too. The real difference came when "sleeper seats " were staring in First Class and the old F seats were used for Business Class.
 
User avatar
vhtje
Posts: 376
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 12:40 pm

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Fri Mar 16, 2012 3:59 pm

Quoting malioil (Thread starter):
My question is, well, what percentage of Business Class passengers are no longer business people, but rather leisure travelers (not necessarily for touristic purposes, but people who are not heading somewhere for business) ?

My guess is that it is too hard to simplify that down to one figure - it would vary too much on the route, the airline, the time of the year and indeed the day of the week.

I spent most of last year commuting to ORD from LHR for business in Y+ and J on BA. The late flight I took on Thursdays back to LHR in J was always full of what looked to my eyes as business travellers, but of course that is only my opinion. Certainly in the lounge before the flight the people tapping away on laptops, iPads and mobile phones hugely outnumbered the people reading magazines and books.

The Sunday morning flight to ORD that I took in Y+ seemed to have slightly higher percentage of non-business passengers, in that I saw more couples and families than in I did in J. But there were business people in there of course as well - every person who sat next to me was going to ORD on business.

Would you have as high a percentage of business people travelling in J going to, say, BGI? I somehow doubt it...

[Edited 2012-03-16 09:02:41]
 
797
Posts: 1386
Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 8:51 am

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Fri Mar 16, 2012 4:11 pm

For me, Business Class is a delicate creature to treat.

Over the years, J has seen some nice changes, thanks to the vanishing of F Class and the introduction of Y+.

On the other hand, J has seen some strange tendencies, such as the 2-3-2 layout on the 777s... which IMHO, it's horrendous. For a passenger to pay a full Business Class ticket and end up seated in the middle, is quite a deal...   

Quoting joffie (Reply 1):
I am talking a few hundred dollars for lounge, more luggage allowance, separate check in so you don't have to line up with 200 other people, better food, seats and service ect, so J class can be worth it.

This, for me, it's what is all about...

I have pretty long legs and traveling Long Haul in Y is the nightmare. Let alone the bad Y service - I don't mind it. What I care the most is to be somewhat comfortable during a 9+ hour flight... The rest, comes with the price.

Quoting joffie (Reply 1):
I know people who would never fly J because they think it is a waste of money

And maybe that's the kind of people who fly Ryanair. Seasoned travelers learn to appreciate traveling in Y+ or J, just because of the expedited boarding, preferred seating, and most of all, the comfort that comes with it. That for me is worth liquid gold.

I have actually decided to open a savings account called 'The Business Class Fund'. Whenever I get the chance of purchasing a Y ticket, I'll use my savings to bump my butt up to J anytime. It is how much I value and enjoy it.

797

[Edited 2012-03-16 09:16:03]
Flying isn't dangerous. Crashing is what's dangerous!
 
beakerltn
Posts: 120
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2009 8:18 pm

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Fri Mar 16, 2012 4:25 pm

I would imagine the cheapest J offering on a particular route will have lots of Leisure passengers - especially those with stop over. eg. when I flew on J from LHR to HKG via CDG all lot of people doing the same route were all leisure passengers. I paid £1,700 rtn, whereas I'm sure the business people were flying direct on Cathay or BA direct for £5k per ticket.

I find on long haul, basic J-class is more a necessity, so I didn't mind the 2-3-2 layout with AF. I like to sit and sleep comfortably, have a nice meal with some nice wine. Thinking about it that's what you should really get in long haul Y - that's just not the case anymore - especially not in 10-abreast on a 777!
300/319/320/321/330/732/733/734/73G/738/744/772/77W/146/EMB135/EMB145
 
nipoel123
Posts: 236
Joined: Thu Jan 13, 2011 6:23 am

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Fri Mar 16, 2012 5:05 pm

Quoting 797 (Reply 9):
I have pretty long legs and traveling Long Haul in Y is the nightmare.

So do I. My last longhaul flights were in J (CO, AMS-EWR-LAX & LAX-IAH-AMS), and before that, I've never flown any long haul at my current length. This summer, I will try out KL's Y (AMS-YYZ) and J (YVR-AMS) product. As almost evryone in my family has long legs, whenever the fare is not too steep, we will book J.

Nick
one mile of road leads to nowhere, one mile of runway leads to anywhere
 
SASDC8
Posts: 530
Joined: Thu Mar 09, 2006 10:01 pm

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Fri Mar 16, 2012 5:56 pm

I guess it depends on route and carrier as BeakerLTN also suggests. On one of my main long haul destinations BKK, it seems that out of OSL and CPH on TG and SK business class sees a great number (80 %+) of leisure travelers (me included).

On my last flight to BKK and onward to SYD in F on TG 70 % of all the passengers on all the flights were indeed leisure travelers.

While on my last flights to NYC (JFK and EWR) it seems to be quite the opposite with 70 % business travelers in the premium cabins.

So I guess the destination, and perhaps even the day of the week, is important for the the leisure vs. business traveler mix.
2-3-2 is NOT a premium configuration
 
mbmbos
Posts: 2566
Joined: Sat May 27, 2000 4:16 am

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Fri Mar 16, 2012 6:46 pm

Just to add a little to the discussion, I seem to remember from a few Lufthansa brochures from the mid 70s that showcased their new DC-10s, the airline featured a quiet cabin that was marketed specifically to business travelers who wanted a quiet cabin so they could work or go to sleep on trans Atlantic flights. Seat width and pitch were the same as regular coach class and I don't remember if they offered any special amenties.

I suspect that small forays such as this is what led to a full-bore business class product.
 
bjorn14
Posts: 3551
Joined: Sat Feb 27, 2010 2:11 pm

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Fri Mar 16, 2012 6:54 pm

Quoting 797 (Reply 9):
Whenever I get the chance of purchasing a Y ticket, I'll use my savings to bump my butt up to J anytime. It is how much I value and enjoy it.

I was shocked when I flew a PMCO CLE-MCO segment and I could upgrade to J for only $50 which was gold after my last row, middle seat DEN-CLE flight.
"I want to know the voice of God the rest is just details" --A. Einstein
 
User avatar
AirlineCritic
Posts: 981
Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2009 1:07 pm

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:02 pm

Quoting 797 (Reply 9):
And maybe that's the kind of people who fly Ryanair. Seasoned travelers learn to appreciate traveling in Y+ or J, just because of the expedited boarding, preferred seating, and most of all, the comfort that comes with it. That for me is worth liquid gold.

I have actually decided to open a savings account called 'The Business Class Fund'. Whenever I get the chance of purchasing a Y ticket, I'll use my savings to bump my butt up to J anytime. It is how much I value and enjoy it.

Good for you. Unfortunately, the economics do not make it possible for large fraction of the potential traveling population. I've purchased upgrades on points whenever possible, with company money where justifiable by solid business reasons, and with own money in some cases. Still, paying for an upgrade is very rare for me even if I'm generally doing well financially.

Let me illustrate with an example. If we are talking about a walk-in-upgrade for Y+, say 250€ for a one-way transatlantic flight then it is no big deal. Daily allowance on a business trip would cover that cost in a couple of days. But if we are talking about buying a J ticket out of my own pocket... even on a transatlantic trip that could easily be 2000-2500€ more than a Y ticket (500...800€). Maybe it is a small amount of money for you, but it would be a very big deal for most people. In my country that's roughly an average month's salary, or the cost of a very high end flat panel TV, or the cost of 4-5 trips. I travel a lot on my own dime. Choices that we make as consumers are just that, choices. Do I burn my yearly travel funds on one trip in J, or do I make five trips? Or buy that TV?

Also, the problem with discussing these things is that the costs are so very different in different cases. More leg room and better seat on a low-cost carrier flight? Sure. I get those every time. J over Y in a country where the differences are small and the overall cost of the J ticket is in the hundreds? Many people will take that. Upgrading for a 2000€ or 5000€ or 10000€ more expensive ticket out of your own pocket on a regular basis every couple of weeks or months? Not many people will do that.

But I agree it would be nice.
 
Alnicocunife
Posts: 193
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2011 3:32 pm

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:16 pm

Business Class came into large scale use in the 90's. Delta as an example used to have just First and Coach on all flights then in the 90's started added Business Class on international flights giving it 3 classes of service. This then changed into the elimination of "First Class" on international flights with just Business and Coach. It now appears that the names have changed and you are seeing the same thing happen again. Business Class, Economy Comfort, Coach. Difference between the 90's and today is, all of the the seats have gotten smaller.
 
RobertS975
Posts: 756
Joined: Sun Aug 14, 2005 2:17 am

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:40 pm

In many ways, this is all about semantics... the business class seat of today is so much more luxurious than the FC seat of the 70s and 80s. I have flown biz class frequently over the years, but never on business, always leisure. And I have never paid a full fare for the privilege... always on the hunt for discounted (and restricted) business class fares, always under $3000 RT east coast USA to Europe, mostly on DL but sometimes on CO when they had their summer sales.

Much more than that, I will buy cheap coach, snag a economy comfort seat on DL, and hope for an operational upgrade as a Diamond Medallion.

On an ultra- long haul I might consider paying up, but even then, I would most likely just spend some of my FF miles.
 
Viscount724
Posts: 18858
Joined: Thu Oct 12, 2006 7:32 pm

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:56 pm

Quoting Alnicocunife (Reply 16):
Business Class came into large scale use in the 90's.

Most major international carriers introduced business class in the 80s, not the 90s.

Quoting RobertS975 (Reply 17):
the business class seat of today is so much more luxurious than the FC seat of the 70s and 80s

The F class seats of the 70s and 80s (and earlier) didn't convert to flat beds, but for actual seating comfort I found most of those old seats much better than many of today's high-tech J class seats. All the technology required by today's seats seems to leave less room for padding. Some of today's seats are especially uncomfortable when used as seats as opposed to beds.
 
zrs70
Posts: 3300
Joined: Sun Dec 10, 2000 4:08 am

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:07 pm

In the 60's, UA had a "Red, White, and Blue" service on some domestic flights. I'm not sure which color matched which class, but one color had 3x3 seating, another had 3x2, and the third 2x2. It was an early sort of YCF differentiation.
17 year airliners.net vet! 2000-2016
 
Thai744
Posts: 276
Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2004 9:25 pm

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:16 pm

I hate how we are TOTALLY ripped off for airfares ex-Australia. (Especially J class!)

If I buy a SYD - LON return, it's about $7000 on QF / BA - give or take.

The same return ticket ex-LON to SYD is about $5000.

Not only on this sector, either. We really do get screwed over down here.

Makes me mad.
 
ExL10Mktg
Posts: 61
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2007 8:39 am

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:20 pm

Business Class started out IIRC as nothing more than a separate section for full fare coach passengers, typically business travelers. The idea was to create a quieter environment for them (no screaming kids or smooching honeymooners.) A few extra frills were included (drinks, hot towels, etc.) but nothing elaborate. That was for First Class. Then the inevitable happened. Airline X, increased seat pitch, Airline Y introduced better meals, then Airline Z changed to bigger seats (on the then new wide-body aircraft,) and so on. The spiral which continues to this day created a product vastly superior to First Class when it was created. Naturally, the ante had to be upped for First Class in order to justify its continued existence. As all this occurred, fares naturally had to rise to fund the service and the amount of real estate devoted to their respective cabins. First is essentially now being forced out of all but a few markets because the level of service in J/C is so good that only a few find it necessary or affordable to go all the way to F -- a mighty big jump and waaay out there on the diminishing returns curve. The cycle is now restarting with Y+, basically the original J/C. It will be interesting to see the next spiral!
 
joffie
Posts: 814
Joined: Sun Mar 26, 2006 5:45 pm

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:42 pm

Quoting Thai744 (Reply 20):

Have a look at etihad from BUD-MEL then compare it to MEL-BUD return in J or even F... Amazing how much we are ripped
 
fiscal
Posts: 275
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 11:47 pm

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Sat Mar 17, 2012 12:02 am

Quoting Thai744 (Reply 20):
Not only on this sector, either. We really do get screwed over down here.

We certainly do. Some of the blame must go to corporate Australia who just pay up, rather than say "is it really worth it?" and it not just QF, but just about every long haul carrier.

Even Y+ is a rip off. Last year I had to pay $4000 for a return trip to the states. I later found out that I could have flown Eithad (out of Singapore I think it was) for $3500 in J, plus the cost of a PER - SIN return flight in Y and that would have come close to the QF Y plus Y+ combo I paid.

But at the end of the day, leisure travelers will always be the smaller proportion of the premium cabins because it is so expensive when you have to pay the bill yourself.

If only I had some more cash
 
Viscount724
Posts: 18858
Joined: Thu Oct 12, 2006 7:32 pm

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Sat Mar 17, 2012 12:05 am

Quoting zrs70 (Reply 19):
In the 60's, UA had a "Red, White, and Blue" service on some domestic flights. I'm not sure which color matched which class, but one color had 3x3 seating, another had 3x2, and the third 2x2. It was an early sort of YCF differentiation.

Red was first (2-2), white was "standard" (3-2), and blue was economy/coach (3-3). It didn't last long, probably about 2 or 3 years. By the late 1960s UA had reverted to 2-class F/Y service. A couple of other U.S. carriers (CO was one) also offered similar 3-class service on certain routes during that period.
 
Rafabozzolla
Posts: 968
Joined: Sun Apr 30, 2000 1:27 pm

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Sat Mar 17, 2012 1:09 am

Since lat 2009 I've been flying long haul on J on my own dime. In my experience the best combo is one leg paying, one with miles. If you do the homework and research you can find decent biz fares, maybe with a stop over.

I don't consider myself a snob, I don't mind budget hotels (a clean bed is always a clean bed), street food (it can be delicious) and public transport (coming from Brazil, NYC is a piece of cake to handle). It is just that Y has been reduced to such appalling levels... Not to mention the droves of people cramming the gate areas and plane aisles. But maybe the best value in J is the (mostly) kinds-and-babies free environment.

In my opinion what is really not worth it is Y+ (real Y+, not UA extra space on same cabin). I'm flying business to LHR in July on JJ for less than what AF wanted for Y+
 
spacecadet
Posts: 2788
Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2001 3:36 am

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Sat Mar 17, 2012 6:04 am

I'd pay for business occasionally if I flew a lot domestically. The fares for business (or first, depending on the airline) aren't that bad on relatively short hops. I've actually had to fly last minute a couple times where I found out later that the price I paid for economy wasn't that much different than what I could have booked for business/first.

But mostly I fly internationally and there is no way I could ever afford straight business fares on an international flight. Even upgrading with miles costs too much, because you need to pay for an upgradeable fare. On a flight for two (I travel with my wife) from JFK-NRT, that could be an *extra* $5,000 over a regular discounted economy ticket. I value my space and I hate being stuck in cattle class, but if someone offered to pay me $5,000 to sit in a tiny box for 13 hours, with the promise of meals and entertainment to take my mind off the discomfort, I'd honestly take it. That's not an insignificant amount of money to me and economy isn't *that* bad yet.

My wife and I are considering using some miles to book business JFK-LHR on Virgin via our ANA mileage club accounts, though - that'd be the first time I've ever taken business by choice for leisure if that happens (not counting airline-initiated upgrades), though the $1,300 ANA wants to charge in taxes and surcharges is kind of putting a damper on our "free" trip...
I'm tired of being a wanna-be league bowler. I wanna be a league bowler!
 
GCPET
Posts: 202
Joined: Fri Jan 13, 2012 12:43 pm

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Sat Mar 17, 2012 10:04 am

Would it be fair to say that a big step in development of business class was is 2000 when British Airways introduced the first fully flat bed in business class?

GCPET
If it's not Boeing, I'm not going!
 
797
Posts: 1386
Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 8:51 am

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Sat Mar 17, 2012 2:06 pm

Quoting Rafabozzolla (Reply 25):
I don't consider myself a snob, I don't mind budget hotels (a clean bed is always a clean bed), street food (it can be delicious) and public transport (coming from Brazil, NYC is a piece of cake to handle). It is just that Y has been reduced to such appalling levels... Not to mention the droves of people cramming the gate areas and plane aisles. But maybe the best value in J is the (mostly) kinds-and-babies free environment.

You should never consider yourself a snob when choosing J instead of Y comes to game. Traveling 7+ hours in a tight and cramped Y is a good enough excuse.

What I often do is purchase a round trip with one leg in Y and one leg in J. I try to bump up to J with miles on the first leg and so on... That makes it less awful to pay for.

Business Class is truly a game-changer for me. When I travel in J, I seldom suffer from jet lag. Oppositely, when I travel in Y, the jet lag lasts for non less than 4 days. It truly has a value for me.

Quoting Rafabozzolla (Reply 25):
In my opinion what is really not worth it is Y+ (real Y+, not UA extra space on same cabin). I'm flying business to LHR in July on JJ for less than what AF wanted for Y+

It depends. TK's new Premium Economy is quite the eye-opener. It beats several Business Classes on other carriers - you should check it out!

797
Flying isn't dangerous. Crashing is what's dangerous!
 
Rafabozzolla
Posts: 968
Joined: Sun Apr 30, 2000 1:27 pm

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Sat Mar 17, 2012 3:57 pm

Quoting 797 (Reply 28):
It depends. TK's new Premium Economy is quite the eye-opener. It beats several Business Classes on other carriers - you should check it out!

Looks really comfy, too bad Turkey is not on my radar...
 
infinit
Posts: 874
Joined: Thu Jul 31, 2008 1:12 am

RE: The Development Of Business Class

Sat Mar 17, 2012 4:13 pm

In university I had some affluent local classmates who flew around on holidays with both F and J on SQ. I think a fair bit of J passengers travel on leisure. Even if the fare different doesnt justiy the value, it has its appeal to some. Would be interesting to have a study done on why people might be willing to pay for J.

I dont see airlines like EK and SQ getting rid of F though. Regional F maybe but definitely not long haul

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: 747fan, accargofra, CANPILOT, Channex757, Google [Bot], KLDC10, lavalampluva, meecrob, mjoelnir, piedmontf284000, sierra3tango, Sightseer, VirginFlyer and 263 guests