In the past decade we have seen an increase in airlines offering Premium Economy cabins. This all started 20 years ago with EVA, Virgin followed suit and then British Airways. After that the dam broke and a lot of global carriers have introduced versions of this product on international and domestic routes. During the same period many major airlines cut out First Class. Carriers like Delta, Air New Zealand and more have simply opted to eliminate First. We have also seen the rise of lie flat suites in Business Class and the demise of standard services like checked bags in Economy. It’s been a tumultuous time and who could’ve predicted all the changes? Well even if predicting the last 10 years of flying would’ve been difficult this won’t stop me from trying to determine what the next 10 years will look like.
Well here are my thoughts.
Carriers with a First Class product will go up and beyond the original concept of a lie flat bed as BA and Singapore Airlines pioneered 23 years ago. Simple lie flat seats are for Business Class now. Airlines such a Etihad already have the Residence which is a living room, bathroom and bedroom, and Emirates has showers on the A380. But Emirate’s current First product is about to get a make over, as is Singapore Airlines’ current product. We can only assume each will be innovative and indulgent offering more privacy and larger spaces.
Saying that economy will be tighter as First gets bigger is sadly obvious. Qantas are now adding an extra seat in each row in Economy and US carriers have been cramming more seats in the back as fast as they can. So Economy will get worse. Standard Economy is now a class where nothing comes free, you’ll pay for luggage, seats selection, drinks and food. And I think you’ll have more neighbors and less space. The trend is to shrinking the size of the seat and your personal space to fit in more passengers.
Premium Economy is on the rise but it’s doubtful that we will see lay flat beds there as that would make the product too close to Business Class. A few carriers are making any great moves in improving this space. Air New Zealand has the best product so far and Turkish Airlines’ is always reliable.
Business will be all about getting a lay flat sleep but with less of a focus on the food service. I predict more cart service and less individual attention. Of course Virgin will still make you feel special with their on board bar, just like Emirates and Qatar and South Korean. But basically, Business is Business and it’s all about getting on board easily, sleeping well and having the space to relax or work.
So the future looks good up front, good in Business, efficient in Premium and like cattle in Economy
But think of it, most people who flew 40 years ago were the ELITE, now we all travel, so I guess that’s the consequence. Instead of us all getting an upgrade, most will get a downgrade except for the most frequent of flyers or those who can just pay more.
Oh, on one last note. I heard that the Concorde could fly again in 2019. A private group has secured a plane and financing to offer it as a charter. Think about that, supersonic flight could return once again. Now that would be an upgrade.
Daniel Green, the Model Cook is a Celebrity Chef known for his healthy approach to food and living well. With TV, books, magazines and live appearances, Daniel spends his time helping fans to cook better, feel better and live better. He’s also an avid traveler and a self-confessed Foodie.