Fast Company

There Will Always Be a Front of the Plane

Biz class airlines have gone away. Why not biz class too?

What it may be replaced by is a cheesecake factory-like à la carte menu. There's always the option of packaging options together. Fun. This may work better in some markets than in others, due to differences in cultural buying practices. I have an example which is admittedly not perfect, but as an American I've had to adjust rather quickly to how things happen in my adopted work home of España.

When I go back to the States, I'm frequently confronted with our all-too-often-taken-for-granted overabundance of choices. Somehow, I've also adapted rather quickly in Spain to doing without the all-too-familiar complexity of "curating" my own restaurant experience.

ME: "I'd like a beer and a salad."

WAITER: "On draft we have BudBudLightSamAdamsGuinessBlueMoonMichelobUltrablahblahblah...."

ME (interrupting, because clearly my hair stood a good chance of turning white waiting for him to finish): "Okay--whatever. The first one on draft."

WAITER (unprompted): "RanchBlueCheeseThousandIslandBalsamicVinaigretteblahblahblah."

ME: "Okay, can you stop? I feel like I'm doing more work here than you are."

Actually, I didn't say that. But the point is I guess I've gotten used to surrendering to the experience of where I am. And while sometimes you want control over minute details of what you're buying believe me, there is a line. I think it's in the salad.

Some Industry Soothsayers point out that one of the changes airlines are considering is eliminating first and/or business class seating. Their rationale is to maximize customer choice. Already we're seeing a number of airlines consolidating first and business classes. Maybe it isn't big enough yet to constitute a trend, but it makes sense that some airlines would go down that road.

Is this really going to happen? Sure Maybe. I don't know. The one thing I do know is that there's always going to be a front of the plane. It's going to be desirable to sit up there. For another thing, if you're willing to pay for the front-of-the-plane seating and priority boarding, you'll probably pony up for other stuff like baggage. And that's where airlines get to do cool stuff like packaging or bundling. They're cool because they get naming, branding, and there's usually some margin tucked away in there somewhere, even after the naming and branding. And then you don't have to do the whole Salad Dressing routine. You just get on the plane and you're all set.

Road Warrior • Miami • Madrid • www.amadeus.com

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