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Innovation: Reinventing the Wheel

Are airlines reinventing the wheel?

Airlines may reinvent first-class service, according to a recent item in Forbes magazine. In fact, some airlines may elevate their first-class service to that of a five-star hotel, some industry observers say.

Carriers are examining how they can customize the experience for first-class travelers. Several carriers are expected make such enhancements as enlarging bathrooms and offering advanced entertainment systems with large screens.

It shows that expectations and service levels that once constituted first class, business class, and everything else may be undergoing a fundamental shift.

What’s prompting this reexamination is that many airlines will soon be upgrading to new classes of planes. The new technology of those new planes is about to give the carriers (and their passengers) undreamed of customer service options.

Still, many reporters don’t “get it” yet. More than a few are characterizing this positive trend toward offering customers more choice (i.e., give me just what I want; don’t make me buy what I don’t want) as bad!

The classic article following this storyline appeared recently at CNN/Money titled “Airlines Pile on the Fees.” The writer, Donna Rosato, tries to make the case that “the major carriers keep finding ways to nickel and dime fliers.”

Do you think the industry’s trying to pull a fast one?

I don’t. Technology doesn’t have instant solutions to our crowded airports and skies. But it can reinvent customer service by restoring choice to passengers, thus delivering far more comfort and satisfaction in the air up there.

And that’s no penny ante game, CNN.

Airline Futurist • Miami • rbuckman@amadeus.com • www.amadeus.comRB