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Trimmed Back Business Class Product.

Thu Aug 06, 2009 3:53 pm

To you folk who travel international J class & turn left when you enter the cabin, what cut backs would it take for you to say "that's enough" and fly with another airline.

In these tough times airlines are looking to save money and various ideas have been floated.
End the hot towl service.
Reduce main meal choice to two items.
No printed wine list.
Over night flights to offer just Tea & Coffee prior to arrival. ("Hey,we feed you 8 hours ago")
No frequent flyer points unless full fair paid.
Arrivals lounge full fare only.

Is there any international carrier willing to dip their toe in the water?
you don't get a second chance to make a first impression!
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RE: Trimmed Back Business Class Product.

Thu Aug 06, 2009 3:56 pm

I hate to tell you but if you turn left you will be heading into the flight deck.
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RE: Trimmed Back Business Class Product.

Thu Aug 06, 2009 3:58 pm

Quoting Aircanada014 (Reply 1):
I hate to tell you but if you turn left you will be heading into the flight deck.

Not if they're boarding from 2L.
-Doc Lightning-

"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
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RE: Trimmed Back Business Class Product.

Thu Aug 06, 2009 4:16 pm

I'd say if they start switching back to the old style seats, that would definitely tip the scale for me. As for the rest, I don't think they can save that much. On a regular long-haul airliner, there are only 30-50 J seats. Saving a buck/seat there saves a lot less than if they can do it for 250 Y passengers.

Also, if a J pax is paying USD 3-5K for a ticket, the cost of the on board service is a lesser share of the ticket price than in Y. However, the high number of FA's might make up for that?

Anyway, I believe the floorspace a modern J seat occupies is where the big savings are to be made, if they want to.
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RE: Trimmed Back Business Class Product.

Thu Aug 06, 2009 4:18 pm

Well airlines have always been careful with cutting costs up front and have always done things behind the scene regardless of good or bad times. However, if the airline is not careful and cuts back too much, they may further damage your premium product and the loading up front will fall ever further. BA recent cut has raised some red flags and it is a good test case and see if BA will be effected negatively. However BA does have a good Club World seat, so it is hard to isolate out an individual factor. Diluting your premium product can cause long term damage to your brand. It is easy to crash your brand, but hard to rebuild it. Yes, there have been lots of discounted business class tickets, but they are still not DIRT CHEAP. Last minute business class tickets are still very expensive.

So far the cutbacks have been minor, like reducing catering of mid-flight snacks. On my flight from HKG to EWR on CO BF yesterday, mid-flight snacks were put out mid-flights and were all raided within a few hours. The F/As had to bring out leftover nuts, as well as crackers from cheese tray. Items in the menus are not as fancy as before, and more meat like chicken and more pasta dishes are served instead of beef fillet, or maybe instead of steak, they served braised beef cheeks. I think BA is the only airline, which dares to cut the second meal service... honestly if 70% of passengers take that meal, it is pretty important.

Frequent flyer points - I think the airlines are more careful in that aspect, but airlines like CO have been reducing mileage bonus for their "R" and certain discounted BF fares, but you will get the bonus EQM. China Airlines and EVA Airways both introduce a different bonus miles scheme for various discounted first and business class fares, but in general, you still get some sort of bonuses.

Arrival lounge - not many airlines have even established them yet, and I assume most airlines have already paid certain amount of money or signed a long term lease to those facilities. So they can't just cut it. I assume they can tighten the entry requirement a bit.

Hot towels - most airlines offer two hot towel service on most flights, so you can't do much.

Amenity kit - I think some airlines have already reduced the size of their amenity kits and some airlines have long introduced the concept of amenities basket. I assume some airlines can go that track, but that may not reduce costs much.

We will see... I think in terms of premium travel, first class may become rarer in the future, and premium economy may become more popular as most companies have cut budgets.

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RE: Trimmed Back Business Class Product.

Thu Aug 06, 2009 4:18 pm

Most airlines have been improving their J class products, even through these tough times for the airlines, although some have slowed down the pace of their upgrades.

The airlines are increasingly adding 180 degree lie-flat seats (such as DL and CO), new Biz seats (such as AA and AF).

The new J is the old F, the new E+ is the old J. (The new F is nice!!)

I don't know what you mean by cut backs causing me to fly another airline. I have not found most airlines doing anything of the sort.

In the last 2 years, I have flown in F or J longhaul on DL, NW, KL, AA, UA, CX, TG, CI, JL, BA, LH, SQ, QF, CO, AF, NH, KE, plus probably some others that don't come to mind.
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RE: Trimmed Back Business Class Product.

Thu Aug 06, 2009 5:21 pm

I dont think many are actively considering cutbacks , frankly I am not sure any really are, certainly not so you would particularly notice. Now eliminating waste maybe.
The reduced second meal service on BA is an example. Since the Club Kitchen was installed second meal take up has reduced quite a bit yet the "Kitchen" empties out.
By reducing the second meal and adding to the Kitchen choice and quantity, the ability in J to snack at will after the main meal service is actually enhanced. Waste is reduced as many Kitchen contents have long use by dates (microwave meals etc) so can fly back and forth till used
So in fact it is change in catering method and greater passenger freedom.

BA lounges have complimentary snacks and beverages all day, some larger lounges have hot snacks/soups etc also available too. And you get lounge access

When Sleeper service was first introduced on certain night flights ex east coast USA people initialy thought it was a cut back. But again it was a change. Having invested in the first flat bed in J the whole selling proposition was to maximise sleep time (why have a bed otherwise). And given the availability of ample lounge space (at JFK T7 in particular) lounge dining pre boarding became the product style, with a hot cup of chocolate/coffee and a cookie served before lights out. As a result you can get 6 hours kip JFK/LHR, which is frankly what you are paying for. And ex BOS the sleep issue is more important.
Some still think it is just mean spirited of course.

now a significant proportion of 50% of the longhaul daily programme arrives into LHR in the very early to early morning and there is an extensive arrivals lounge for J which serves hot food etc. So for these flights many pax rather used the arrivals complex than the breakfast option
But again you have this facility available

So you can view it as a cutback or perhaps you might nw view it as a streamlining to eliminate waste, but from terminal to terminal there remain extensive complimentary catering. (and on a non sleeper flight you can eat in the lounge pre boarding, eat on board, eat second meal on board then where available eat in the arrivals lounge........That doesnt seem too stingy now )

I dont defend their decision, I simply raise some interesting facts to view the decision in its full context.
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RE: Trimmed Back Business Class Product.

Thu Aug 06, 2009 6:40 pm

Quoting Readytotaxi (Thread starter):
End the hot towl service.

Quoting Readytotaxi (Thread starter):
Reduce main meal choice to two items.

Those two are somewhat reasonable.

On the other hand, while AA's J -class is obviously not the greatest in the world, It seems to be well balanced. Offering something that people are willing to pay a little extra for while not being too over the top in terms of its luxurious offerings.

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.” J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan)
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RE: Trimmed Back Business Class Product.

Thu Aug 06, 2009 8:37 pm

For me, the greatest thing about flying international business class is the space and room, followed closely by the food, with entertainment in third place. As others have said, most carriers are upgrading their hard products, and I can't imagine any carriers reducing the luxury or space of the current seats. That space is the most important thing for me. The fact that I can arrive after a 10-15 hour flight and feel human is more important than the other amenities. Now, those other amenities are all important too, since they contribute to the comfort of the entire experience, but for me, the single most important aspect of international business class is the room. Considering how I can't imagine any carrier reducing the room in int'l business, I think I'll keep flying  Smile
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RE: Trimmed Back Business Class Product.

Thu Aug 06, 2009 9:42 pm

I have never really understood passengers' enthusiasm for expensively provided food and drink in premium classes. If you are really enjoying the stuff (including the wine you can't smell) that you get on a plane or in an airport lounge, you really need to be going to better places to eat when you are not flying. Some airlines can pull off the neat logistical exercise of having decent precooked food plated according to diagram from reheat trays. But do you really need to see the same trick over and over again? It's also very ungreen to be flying breakfast or snack service setups several thousand miles.
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RE: Trimmed Back Business Class Product.

Thu Aug 06, 2009 10:07 pm

For me, the J product is really about the following in this order, not worried about hot towels or ammenity kits to be honest:-

- Decent seat/space to relax & sleep onboard

- Lounge access before the flight

- Better food/wines

- More FF mile

Not bothered with IFE, give me a window, book & my i-phone, more than happy!
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RE: Trimmed Back Business Class Product.

Thu Aug 06, 2009 10:09 pm

Things I can do without:
-Pre-take off drink (just had one in the lounge or at Starbucks anyway, walking down the jetway isn't that dehydrating).
-Hot towel;
-Nuts before the meal (don't eat them at home, why start on a plane);
-Arrival lounge (when an arrival lounge would be a welcome amenity, my employer thoughtfully provides a hotel room);
-Concierge, both at check-in and during a connection (what they do for me, I can do on my own just fine);
-Shower inside the b/c lounge (useful sometimes, but I will live without if I have to);
-IFE (books and iPod do it just fine);
-If the IFE stays (highly unlikely it won't), at least noise canceling head phones can go (every frequent traveler I know has theirs).

A couple of alternatives:
-With more and more airlines having an IFE screen larger than a stamp, put the wine list, menu and movie selections on the IFE screen (save money and save a tree);
-Smaller amenity kit with eye shades, socks and lip balm (the rest, if I need it, I have it anyway);

Things I will simply not do without (on a long-haul flight):
-Enough tray space for a drink and an open 15" laptop;
-Enough space in between seats that getting from a window seat to the aisle doesn't resemble a climb up Mount Everest, even when all seats are reclined;
-A seat that reclines (almost) fully so I can attempt to sleep;
-Laptop power plug;
-Quiet cabin (and I don't just mean kids, I mean no crew running around the whole flight);
-At-seat service within a decent amount of time, putting away everything just to get a drink is a hassle I'd rather avoid;
-Departure/connecting lounge.

[Edited 2009-08-06 15:10:39]
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RE: Trimmed Back Business Class Product.

Fri Aug 07, 2009 5:16 am

I am a regular business class traveler and basically only look for the following two:

-Decent seat (does not necessarily have to be flat bed) and large amount of leg space and personal room (I am 201 cms tall so the more space the better)
-As most of my trips take me from Oz to Europe I need a decent transit lounge with clean and functioning shower and restroom facilities

Don't really care about the rest and won't complain if I am not addressed by name, shown to my seat, have my jacket taken, champagne not cold enough, etc.

Used to be a supporter of KE but they still have "old" A333 with first generation business class seats (laz-y-boy) with hardly any leg room in service between BNE-ICN. This is simply not good enough so for my last trip to Germany in July I paid a bit more and flew SQ. Will not consider KE until they upgrade their business class on all air craft.

Cheers from Brisbane,


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