|Quoting CARST (Reply 71):|
we also have to say that Y got downgraded continuously over the last 1.5 decades.
|Quoting CARST (Reply 71):|
So good to see MCE-like products and PE/Y+ filling this open market segment and giving the customer more choices.
At a really abstract level, I want to propose a theory for why this happened and for why the future will be in product differentiation below J. Maybe this is all obvious but just want to lay it out.
Over the past several decades, airplane design, airline management, and deregulation/liberalization have created significant efficiency gains for the industry. http://www.theatlantic.com/business/...ars-and-why-nobody-noticed/273506/
I want to suggest that it's these efficiency gains driving the changes, not simply a renaming/rebranding of the old categories.
As an industry gets more efficient, its firms can compete on two main strategies:
-Increased product quality
, about half of their revenue comes from price-sensitive passengers, the other half, obviously... http://centreforaviation.com/analysi...competitive-dynamics-unfold-255823
Surely the world's largest airline is representative of the broader industry.
F/J represents the less price-sensitive crowd, Y the more price-sensitive crowd.
Thus airlines competed for F/J by plowing efficiency gains into space and service. Competing on price would win fewer price-insensitive customers at greater cost than competing on product.
In the Y cabin, airlines plowed efficiency gains into prices. Price pressure democratized air travel, enticing lower-income demographics into the field, which further reinforced the dominance of price-sensitivity to market share. A virtuous or vicious cycle, depending on who you are.
This was the rational strategy while the traditional F/J/Y market structure held: F/J innovations built up to occupy increasing cabin area, Y seats to occupy decreasing cabin area, until the yield per m2, roughly, was equal across classes. Now that J occupies ~4x Y-pax cabin area, and sells for ~4x Y-tickets, the period of J product innovation relative to baseline Y is likely closing. With J coalescing around 1-2-1 @ ~50" and Y at 3-4-3 or 3-3-3 @ ~31", further large divergence likely doesn't make sense.
The divergence in premium versus Y prices, however, meant that airlines were leaving increasing numbers of mutually beneficial trades on the table, and that the dollar value of those trades continually rose. $400 for 15% more pitch on a 12-hour flight? Lots of Y-pax would take that deal (some airline's cabin layouts predict up to 40%), and it's a great deal for airlines per cabin m2. But it wasn't available until sort of recently.
Now innovation will turn towards the unrealized Pareto-optimal exchanges between airlines and pax who got stranded between cheaper, nastier Y and continually nicer - but still too expensive - J. Airlines will put some of their historical efficiency gains into meeting some Y/J pax halfway - offering a little better service at a little more price. Now that J and Y are more aligned from a yield/cost per m2 perspective, it doesn't especially matter if some J bumps down a class or if all the demand comes from Y.
So I don't see this solely as a trend of renaming "F/J/Y" to "J/W/Y." Instead, it's the overdue structural adjustment of an industry whose efficiency gains have allowed it to serve a much broader and more diverse customer base with more targeted, preference-discriminating products. The old stiff categories stretched downwards with efficiency to attract new business, and upwards with efficiency to keep existing business. But now the categories don't fit well enough and they're changing.
[Edited 2015-12-10 00:21:31]