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
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.