Airlines are losing a lot of money due to overbooking, flight delays and security concerns.
But amid these challenges, airlines are also hoping to improve their bottom line by boosting the benefits for business class travelers.
Commercial Aviation magazine recently spoke with Alvin Lam, CEO of Global Travel International, a travel and travel expense management company, to learn about some of the improvements they’re thinking about adding to business class.
Will In-Flight Service Work?
The biggest change airlines are thinking about is adding in-flight service for business class passengers. Lam told Commercial Aviation that it will be a challenge to implement such a service.
“I don’t think there’s enough revenue. There’s definitely enough people who value the convenience. And the cost for the service would have to be spread over a broad group of people. And the fee might go higher if you were paying that in full.”
Some airlines are already offering meal service. Other carriers, like Cathay Pacific Airways and Singapore Airlines, are already offering services that help with the tracking of luggage and those who forgot to book an exit-row seat could receive a new seat assignment.
Business Class Oversupply
Another thing that seems to be driving the evolution of airline business class is the fact that the market is reaching full capacity.
Fees and the introduction of Open Skies agreements are helping airlines avoid full-capacity limitations that can sometimes hamper performance.
Investigations From Business Travelers
Business travelers have started to create their own watchdog groups so that they know if new fees or new delays are annoying or unnecessary.
Global Travel International Founder Alvin Lam says he thinks the Watchdog Group’s role is a good one.
“I actually have some exposure to it and I feel that it’s just a good thing to have. Any kind of research about their experiences, especially from those that are not experienced, and those that want to get knowledge [and] use that knowledge for the whole. We welcome that.”
A Seat-to-seater In-Flight Concierge
For those travelers who want to be upgraded to a higher cabin level in a seat with fewer rows, Lam says in the future you may even be able to have in-flight service.
According to Lam, all this could increase the price of the seat but it will help more people.
“We certainly have the technology to do that.”
Stay Up to Date
The future of business class also includes a chance to stay up to date with updates from the airline.
Business travelers also need to pay attention to frequent flyer programs because there are new members being created all the time. Lam says his company is partnering with LoyaltyIQ to provide his clients with access to all the latest news from the airlines.
“It’s always evolving, especially with the airlines. Whenever a new service is being offered, they always expect their customers to pay for it. So your ability to really be educated and understand what’s going on in the industry, even when you’re flying on a large number of airlines, is very important.”
Global Travel International Expands
There are a few other ways for travelers to stay abreast of what’s happening at the airlines.
Global Travel International has unveiled a new website that allows you to search the services offered by all different airlines on a single portal.
Additionally, Lam says he feels that his company has become successful because of this technology.
“We started by really targeting business travelers. In this area there are a lot of service additions that you see on the side of most airlines. I think the best example we’ve done on the side of all airlines is when they changed the altitude, people got a notice from our website saying it’s actually not an error and it’s actually the airline. That’s something that was, we made some incremental improvements and we’ve been successful in this. “
Boom or Bust?
It’s an exciting time for the airline industry as they try to figure out ways to make business class more popular. The airlines are already seeing some success from limited-edition bags, seat-to-seat concierges and other offerings.
In an industry where overall profitability is down, Lam says it’s important to keep an eye on innovations.
“What was working last year may not necessarily work again in a year and a half.”
There’s no question that all the changes implemented are still in the future.
Do you think these innovations will improve your airline experience? Tell us how you’ll use them in the comments section below.