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readytotaxi
Topic Author
Posts: 6583
Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2006 2:09 am

The future of International First Class

Wed Jan 02, 2019 6:01 pm

As we move into a new year I was wondering about this product and its future. Around 18 airlines sell it and maybe that is too many, perhaps some will phase it out over the next year-18 months? Certainly there will always be a need for it, perhaps the cabin will become smaller, 4 or 8 seats. There are some airlines that would never give it up of course, British Airways, Singapore and Emirates come to mind but unless you protect the product and keep it fresh it can become devalued in the eye of the traveller. A list of the current players (did I miss some) and your thoughts on the future.

AMERICAN AIRLINES
AIR CHINA
AIR FRANCE
AIR INDIA
ANA
ASIANA AIRLINES
BA
CATHAY PACIFIC
CHINA EASTERN
CHINA SOUTHERN
EMIRATES
JAL
LUFTHANSA
MALAYSIA AIRLINES
QANTAS
SAUDIA
SINGAPORE AIRLINES
SWISS
UNITED
you don't get a second chance to make a first impression!
Growing older, but not up.
 
IPFreely
Posts: 2381
Joined: Sun Dec 24, 2006 8:26 am

Re: The future of International First Class

Wed Jan 02, 2019 6:40 pm

The value and price differentiation between first and business has shrunk to the point where there really isn’t much market for first class anymore.

A 4-8 seat first class cabin priced a significant multiplier above business is tough to sell because the competition isn’t other airlines, it’s private jet travel. Which airlines can’t compete with at all based on schedule and route flexibility.

And with bigger first class cabin priced a small multiplier above business, there is little value to offer for the price compared to business class.

The future appears to be a premium class cabin (who cares if it’s called first or business) and an economy class cabin divided into premium and regular economy and maybe eventually a dedicated basic or “economy minus” section.
 
zakuivcustom
Posts: 2774
Joined: Sat Jun 10, 2017 3:32 am

Re: The future of International First Class

Wed Jan 02, 2019 8:11 pm

IPFreely wrote:
(who cares if it’s called first or business)


Just call it BusinessFirst :duck:


Anyway, from US standpoint, UA right now is phrasing out "International First" anyway and basically call everything "Polaris" (The fact that UA didn't put in true F in their 77W means the writing is on the wall), although "Domestic First" will probably remain, even though the "Domestic First" product is closer to International Business class anyway at best. AA will probably keep it on their transcon, although their (fairly) new 77W do have true F.

readytotaxi wrote:
A list of the current players (did I miss some) and your thoughts on the future.

TG, EY, and QR just to start. Etihad got that "Residence" afterall :white: .

Out of all those, I don't see any of the A380 operators getting rid of F, so you can eliminate KE/OZ/EK/EY/QR/TG/MH/SQ/AF/BA/LH/CZ, along with NH (Who's putting F in their upcoming A380s, in another word, those are not going away soon). Due to prestige, the other two Chinese airlines that have F won't get rid of it soon, so eliminate CA and MU also. Throw CX in there as well, again due to "prestige".

That leaves AI (More likely to go out of business before they get rid of F), SV (Keeping F just to keep up with ME3), and LX (Got F in their fairly new 77W, so again, not going away soon).

Ultimately, Business Class had came a long way from the "Cradle Seats" or even "Angled Lie-Flat". Most J seats are as good as F seats 20 years ago anyway, with the other "perks" just not important enough for most premium class pax.
Free Hong Kong! Free China!
 
LH658
Posts: 1049
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2016 7:35 am

Re: The future of International First Class

Wed Jan 02, 2019 10:17 pm

UA has already ended first class. AA is the only airline in the US airline market offering a current updated F product.
 
steveinbc
Posts: 263
Joined: Sun Sep 13, 2015 4:30 pm

Re: The future of International First Class

Sat Jan 05, 2019 1:48 am

I think it depends on the demand from each respective airline's main hub. LHR with BA has the world's largest premium seats offered annually. DXB with a large wealthy flying upper class is also a shoo-in for Emirates. Hence as long as the moneyed passengers want to splash their cash then F will remain a constant offering.
To me QANTAS seems the most vulnerable to drop F given the relatively small population and relative absence of major businesses that pay these kinds of premiums
A319 320 321 330 340 380 B707 727 737 747 757 767 777 787 BAe1-11 Trident 1, 2, 3B Viscount Lancaster VC10 HS748, ATP DHC-1, 3 Dash-8 Dash-400 Shorts 330 360 Embraer Banderiante Brasileria 175 190 BAe146 Saab 200 DC-3 -8 -9 -10 MD-11 ATR42-72
 
zrs70
Posts: 3695
Joined: Sun Dec 10, 2000 4:08 am

Re: The future of International First Class

Sat Jan 05, 2019 1:40 pm

"Domestic First" product is closer to International Business class anyway at best.


This was true once upon a time – like 30 years ago. But today the two products are vastly different
19 year airliners.net vet! 2000-2019
 
upperdeckfan
Posts: 916
Joined: Fri Jun 08, 2007 1:59 am

Re: The future of International First Class

Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:53 pm

readytotaxi wrote:
As we move into a new year I was wondering about this product and its future. Around 18 airlines sell it and maybe that is too many, perhaps some will phase it out over the next year-18 months? Certainly there will always be a need for it, perhaps the cabin will become smaller, 4 or 8 seats. There are some airlines that would never give it up of course, British Airways, Singapore and Emirates come to mind but unless you protect the product and keep it fresh it can become devalued in the eye of the traveller. A list of the current players (did I miss some) and your thoughts on the future.

AMERICAN AIRLINES
AIR CHINA
AIR FRANCE
AIR INDIA
ANA
ASIANA AIRLINES
BA
CATHAY PACIFIC
CHINA EASTERN
CHINA SOUTHERN
EMIRATES
JAL
LUFTHANSA
MALAYSIA AIRLINES
QANTAS
SAUDIA
SINGAPORE AIRLINES
SWISS
UNITED


KE, DT, LY, GA are missing.

AFAIK LY will phase it out shortly. KE will offer it for long. Not sure about GA and DT.
748,744,742,741,772,773,762,763,
764, 789, 732,733,735,737,738,739,
752, 722, 717,74M,DC10,DC9,M82,
M83, M87, M88,310,319,320,321,332,
333, 343, 346,359,388,L1011,CR2,
CR7, CR9,CRK, E175,E190,ATR42,
DSH8, CS1,CS3
 
Kent350787
Posts: 1042
Joined: Wed May 28, 2008 12:06 am

Re: The future of International First Class

Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:46 pm

zrs70 wrote:
"Domestic First" product is closer to International Business class anyway at best.


This was true once upon a time – like 30 years ago. But today the two products are vastly different


Exactly - US domestic first is more International PE+ equivalent

I agree that QF could be most vulnerable, unless it maintains a fleet for premium LHR/LAX flying. With the tray table in QF A380 F costing the same as a business seat unit there needs to be a strong premium business case for new F fitout.
 
bunumuring
Posts: 2531
Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2014 2:56 pm

Re: The future of International First Class

Sun Jan 06, 2019 3:09 am

Hey guys,
I see the future of international first class splitting three ways:
[1] fully enclosed and separate cabins like EY's The Residence
[2] enclosed/sliding doored suites like EK's latest offering
[3] open suites like QF and BA's current international first...
I also predict some airlines will offer some kind of 'business plus' arrangement, using the same or slightly upgraded existing business suites with increased legroom, better meals and service (including better/more toilets), 'better' lounge access and ancillaries such as chaffeur driven transfers and 'higher' priority checkin/boarding etc...
QF announced months ago that it was refurbishing its A380s.... And retaining the First section albeit with slightly modified suites and new soft furnishings, unlike the complete overhaul planned for business and premium economy.... Could be a sign of lack oflongterm confidence in their First offering!
Cheers
Bunumuring
I just wanna live while I'm alive!
 
upperdeckfan
Posts: 916
Joined: Fri Jun 08, 2007 1:59 am

Re: The future of International First Class

Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:46 am

bunumuring wrote:
Hey guys,
I see the future of international first class splitting three ways:
[1] fully enclosed and separate cabins like EY's The Residence
[2] enclosed/sliding doored suites like EK's latest offering
[3] open suites like QF and BA's current international first...
I also predict some airlines will offer some kind of 'business plus' arrangement, using the same or slightly upgraded existing business suites with increased legroom, better meals and service (including better/more toilets), 'better' lounge access and ancillaries such as chaffeur driven transfers and 'higher' priority checkin/boarding etc...
QF announced months ago that it was refurbishing its A380s.... And retaining the First section albeit with slightly modified suites and new soft furnishings, unlike the complete overhaul planned for business and premium economy.... Could be a sign of lack oflongterm confidence in their First offering!
Cheers
Bunumuring


EY is getting rid of The Residence and nobody else is going to offer a similar concept.

The way airlines are trying to differentiate F from J is based on soft product, as you said meals, lounges, amenities, transfers, etc.

IPFreely wrote:
The value and price differentiation between first and business has shrunk to the point where there really isn’t much market for first class anymore.

A 4-8 seat first class cabin priced a significant multiplier above business is tough to sell because the competition isn’t other airlines, it’s private jet travel. Which airlines can’t compete with at all based on schedule and route flexibility.

And with bigger first class cabin priced a small multiplier above business, there is little value to offer for the price compared to business class.

The future appears to be a premium class cabin (who cares if it’s called first or business) and an economy class cabin divided into premium and regular economy and maybe eventually a dedicated basic or “economy minus” section.


There is a market for F based on customized and exclusive service (soft product), in the large J cabins of today (>60 seats) you don't get that. US3 getting rid of F doesn't mean everybody else will.

Regarding pricing, at least on the TATL market which I'm more familiar with, F is normally priced no more than 2x J which means a TATL RT in F in between 8 to 12K EUR, quite far below a TATL ride on a private jet.
748,744,742,741,772,773,762,763,
764, 789, 732,733,735,737,738,739,
752, 722, 717,74M,DC10,DC9,M82,
M83, M87, M88,310,319,320,321,332,
333, 343, 346,359,388,L1011,CR2,
CR7, CR9,CRK, E175,E190,ATR42,
DSH8, CS1,CS3
 
IPFreely
Posts: 2381
Joined: Sun Dec 24, 2006 8:26 am

Re: The future of International First Class

Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:30 am

upperdeckfan wrote:
There is a market for F based on customized and exclusive service (soft product), in the large J cabins of today (>60 seats) you don't get that. US3 getting rid of F doesn't mean everybody else will.

Regarding pricing, at least on the TATL market which I'm more familiar with, F is normally priced no more than 2x J which means a TATL RT in F in between 8 to 12K EUR, quite far below a TATL ride on a private jet.


When J-class offers early boarding, seats that become 6'6"+ lie flight beds, bedding, ample storage, quality dining, and IFE on a large screen, what more does F offer that justifies 2x the price of J?
 
upperdeckfan
Posts: 916
Joined: Fri Jun 08, 2007 1:59 am

Re: The future of International First Class

Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:02 am

IPFreely wrote:
upperdeckfan wrote:
There is a market for F based on customized and exclusive service (soft product), in the large J cabins of today (>60 seats) you don't get that. US3 getting rid of F doesn't mean everybody else will.

Regarding pricing, at least on the TATL market which I'm more familiar with, F is normally priced no more than 2x J which means a TATL RT in F in between 8 to 12K EUR, quite far below a TATL ride on a private jet.


When J-class offers early boarding, seats that become 6'6"+ lie flight beds, bedding, ample storage, quality dining, and IFE on a large screen, what more does F offer that justifies 2x the price of J?


I've been fortunate enough to fly F a couple of times over the last few years on award tickets and I can tell you the difference is around how customized the service is,

First class lounges very very much less crowded than Business class ones.
F lounges offering broader selection of amenities (i.e. spa treatment)
Chauffered limo service to the aircraft.
Less than 2 pax per cabin crew ratio (3 crews for an 8-seat cabin)
Dedicated F class terminal (LH at FRA only)

Believe it or not there are still people in the world that can afford F but can't afford a private jet, these people value the customized and exclusive service. When money is not an issue (not my case BTW) flying F is not a matter of being "justified".
748,744,742,741,772,773,762,763,
764, 789, 732,733,735,737,738,739,
752, 722, 717,74M,DC10,DC9,M82,
M83, M87, M88,310,319,320,321,332,
333, 343, 346,359,388,L1011,CR2,
CR7, CR9,CRK, E175,E190,ATR42,
DSH8, CS1,CS3

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