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Airlines

Could EasyJet introduce ‘Business Class’?

EasyJet and ‘Business Class’ are not what you expect to find next to each other in a sentence, but it could be happening as part of a wider push to create loyalty which includes a new loyalty scheme.

EasyJet already has three products, confusingly easyJet Plus both refers to the onboard ‘upgraded’ product and the easyJet Plus Card which for a yearly subscription gives access to these benefits on every flight and more.

The Plus product is bookable through the purchase of an ‘upfront or extra legroom seat’ after or during the booking process. This also gives you the added benefit of Speedy Boarding and an extra cabin bag, and access to a separate check in desk. The card also gives fast track security in some destinations as well.

A future ‘business class’ product would essentially be an extension of this. It has been rumoured there will be a trail of a separate cabin (the upfront cabin) on some routes from Gatwick, specifically those which are business heavy – Amsterdam, Milan, Zurich etc. They would come with a higher fare, and like many other European business class products, the middle seat would remain free – giving more space onboard. These would be designated by different coloured head rests.

Although not actually specified, you would have thought the existing easyJet Plus and possibly easyJet Plus benefits would remain – the separate check in desk, speedy boarding and fast track security.

Currently easyJet Plus isn’t a frequent flyer scheme, but appeals to frequent flyers due to the value proposition, it only pays if you fly a few times a year. For those who fly a lot (at least 20 one-way flights, or £1500 in value) there is the mysterious easyJet Flight Club, of which I am a member. While it isn’t a traditional scheme, it does have nice benefits such as changing flights free of charge (plus any additional fare) and name changes on a dedicated phone number.

A new Frequent Flyer scheme would appear to merge the two together, combined with a new loyalty proposition. Effectively fly so many flights and get one free. There will be tiers as well, which come with added benefits – but unlike traditional schemes you will be able to pay for membership of that tier, effectively in a similar fashion as you do at the moment with easyJet Plus. The top tier may also include independent lounge access, at the airports which have them.

So, is it really business class? Probably not in the way we know it, but it is a recognition from easyJet there is a demographic which would appreciate these changes, especially where they are taking market share from the legacy carriers.

Categories
Airlines

It’s Virgin mate, but not as you know it!

It is well know that the invention of low cost airlines over the last 20 years has severely dented the power of full service airlines in Europe. Those weaker ones including Malev, Sabena and Swissair have disappeared, some to be replace by versions, some not.

Those which have been left have found a survival of the fittest, with the low cost airlines, especially Ryanair driving down costs and lowering fares. Those airlines have to compete and the compromises are clear – you only have to look at the likes of British Airways, KLM and Lufthansa to see this.

There is a new battle though, and one which is going to change the industry yet again – the invention of the Low Cost Long Haul airline. At first it was rubbished as not feasible, and Air Asia tried and failed to make a London to Kuala Lumpur route work, but the tide is now turning. Not able to increase utilisation to the same extent as short haul – the long haul model is very economy centric, but still with a premium offering. More nimble and effeceint than previous carriers, they are able to offer lower fares, and also drop complicated rules, such as staying a Saturday night to get a cheap fare to America.

That is causing a problem for the network carriers, as their prized profit making parts of the business are being eroded. Norwegian has been the pioneer of this in Europe after a rocky start taking on brand new 787’s, but Lufthansa is following with Eurowings – again facing problems, and other players such as WestJet in Canada and Air Asia and Scoot in South East Asia.

A Low Cost Virgin isn’t something new, in fact the very roots of the airline were to compete like Freddie Laker in the 70’s, although the product going upmarket has meant competing against the likes of British Airways, American and United.

Little is known so far about the offshoot of the main airline, but rumours have suggested a fleet of ex-Delta A330’s will be based at Gatwick on leisure orientated roots, possibly only featuring Economy and a revised Premium Economy cabins. This would put the carrier right up against Norwegian who has had a head start and could see new routes opening to the Caribbean and Indian Ocean.

Even if this doesn’t see the light of day change is coming, and it needs to keep up, even if that means going downmarket.

Categories
Airlines

With A Little Personality

Travelling can be somewhat of a dreary affair, almost like reading from a script its the same thing over and over again. You notice this the more you travel and when something hits you out of the ordinary, it really does add to your overall experience.

Having travelled with easyJet for many years, it used to be the case it was like travelling with a family. It was an atmosphere that was filled with humour and fun, and with the move to go upmarket it has been sadly lost.

Returning to British Airways has been a revolation, bringing both personal service and human touches which do add to the customer experience – this is either in Club or Economy, I travel in both and appreciate the merits of both.

This week while travelling back from Seville, I had one of those moments. It is not often I record the speech of one of the pilots before take off, but this one was an exception, and I’m sorry I didn’t catch the whole thing as it was extremely funny – here covering all the points but didn’t sound like a machine reading from a script!

So here he is – First Officer Tom Andrews livening up the troops pre-take off!