Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 269,302
2013: 330,818

My Rant: The Definition of Premium Products is Changing – Not for the Good

Singapore's new Business Class will be tough to beat.

Not every airline, nor every customer, is wanting to try to go bigger and better, like Singapore’s new Business Class.

I recently ranted about how people get what they pay for  when it comes to air travel, but I feel that I have a few more things to say. I have come realize that there is downgrading trend going on in the industry that needs to change. Let me explain.

What if you get to a situation where increasing volumetric efficiency becomes done for reasons other than combating cost? After all, a business is in business in order to make a profit. It’d be irresponsible to not seek greater margins, right? Especially when passengers are already prepared to accept pain in economy class.

What’s sparked my continued rant is that I am starting to worry that European-style business class may be getting a foothold in North America.

Continue reading My Rant: The Definition of Premium Products is Changing – Not for the Good

You Get What You Pay For Rant: Why Economy Class Is What It Is

Photo and Press Release from Boeing... SEATTLE, Feb. 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Boeing's [NYSE: BA] passenger-inspired 737 Boeing Sky Interior marked its 1,000th milestone delivery with Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA. The 737 Boeing Sky Interior features modern sculpted sidewalls and window reveals, LED lighting that enhances the sense of spaciousness and larger pivoting overhead stowage bins. "The Boeing Sky Interior is delighting passengers and our airline customers," said Beverly Wyse, vice president and general manager, 737 program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "It's adding even more value to the Next-Generation 737, which already delivers the best economics, reliability and fuel efficiency in its class." Norwegian Air Shuttle was one of the launch customers for the 737 Boeing Sky Interior. This is the airline's 48th Next-Generation 737-800 with the new interior, making it the largest airline operating with the 737 Boeing Sky Interior in Europe. "Our goal is to provide passengers with the ultimate experience in comfort and convenience when they fly with Norwegian," said Bjorn Kjos, chief executive officer of Norwegian Air Shuttle. "The Boeing Sky Interior on the Next-Generation 737 helps us to deliver just that." A passenger survey conducted by Norwegian Air Shuttle soon after the airline began service with the new look found that more than half of respondents rate the 737 Boeing Sky Interior more comfortable than the standard interior. And passengers reported they feel "happier" in the new interior. Since the first 737 Boeing Sky Interior was delivered in October 2010, more than 60 customers have ordered the new interior. Approximately 85 percent of Boeing's backlog of more than 1,900 Next-Generation 737s will be delivered with the 737 Boeing Sky Interior. The passenger-preferred interior will be standard on Boeing's newest family of single-aisle airplanes, the 737 MAX.

Norwegian Air Shuttle economy class on a Boeing 737 – Photo: Boeing

When I was studying in Australia on the minutiae of airline management, it was drilled into me that airlines had three levers they could adjust to control their relative profitability: price, product, and capacity.

It makes sense. Do not get me wrong, this is true – but even then I knew it was a gross over-complication. It only really made sense in the premium cabin, where passengers made their airline selection on a factor other than pricing.  Airlines don’t actually deal in seats; a seat is kind of a nebulous thing that cannot be quantified easily.

Airlines deal in unit cost and unit revenue. You’ve all probably heard the term CASM (Cost per available seat mile) thrown around, same with RASM (Revenue per available seat mile). Well, when you buy a seat, you are buying capacity on the flight at a specific fare.

It gets worse, because the available seat mile is extremely perishable. It’s gone, forever, once you close the door.  There are a good deal of complex price discrimination strategies employed by airlines to ensure that their customers never pay less than they ought to – but before I hurt your heads with complex math and graphs, allow me to completely change the tone of my argument.

Continue reading You Get What You Pay For Rant: Why Economy Class Is What It Is

Touring the New Interior of Singapore Airlines + Win a 777 Model

Singapore's new Business Class will be tough to beat.

Singapore’s new Business Class will be tough to beat.

I have been lucky enough to fly quite a few different Business Class products on a variety of airlines over the years.  Often, those airlines will directly ask me what I thought about their product and question which was my favorite.  Each and every time, I find a few nice things to say about their product, but ultimately then have to admit that Singapore Airlines’ Business Class product on the Airbus A380 has been my favorite.  None of the airlines have been insulted – at least I don’t think – because Singapore really does have a top-notch product.

When I learned that Singapore was updating their already impressive product, I was intrigued.  Recently I was invited, along with Bernie Leighton (a Managing Correspondent for the site, who also holds elite status on all the airline alliances) to check out their first Boeing 777-300ER to feature Singapore’s new interior.  Our tour took place at the Boeing Everett Delivery Center just hours before the plane was delivered to Singapore Airlines and took off, and I wanted to share both of our thoughts.

We also want to be able to share a bit more than thoughts and photos.  You have the chance to WIN A SINGAPORE AIRLINES BOEING 777-300ER MODEL.  Keep on reading to find out how…

Continue reading Touring the New Interior of Singapore Airlines + Win a 777 Model

VIP Tour of TAM Airlines’ New First Class on a Boeing 777-300ER

Time to take a VIP tour of one of TAM's Boeing 777-300ERs at Paine Field. Image: David Parker Brown.

Time to take a VIP tour of one of TAM’s Boeing 777-300ERs at Paine Field. Photo: David Parker Brown

Recently, I was invited to take a special tour of one of TAM Airlines’ brand-spanking new Boeing 777s that was parked at Paine Field. The plane was so new that Boeing was still prepping it for delivery. How could I refuse?

The aircraft I toured (PT-MUJ) and was TAM’s fourth 777-300ER, which was delivered on August 29th, 2013. The airline has ordered a total of nine of the type.

The 777 is the first aircraft that TAM has equipped with their new First Class product, and I was excited to check it out.

Continue reading VIP Tour of TAM Airlines’ New First Class on a Boeing 777-300ER