1 November 2022, London Marriott Hotel County Hall
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
COMMENT: With the peak holiday season nearly upon us the airports of Europe will get even busier and ABTN will receive press release after press release announcing record figures in terms of passengers, and probably cargo too. Nothing wrong with that.
Whilst leisure passengers make a very useful contribution to an airline revenue it is the business traveller that the carriers are really after. It is here that the profits are made charging fares than can be up to ten times that offered under excursion terms. ”200 return across the north Atlantic is not an unusual fare in ”Y” class off season whilst nearly ”2,000 is the charge for the business section during the busy times of the year. It can be twice that for first class!
We have established that the business class traveller pays a great deal more for his flight than the passenger at the back end. Over the last decade or more the airlines have, in the main, sorted out the check-in with special areas for those in the premier classes (and with luggage ” if you don”t have luggage you can book your seat and e-ticket and go straight to the gate, the same as those in the back end ” technology is a great leveller). The airline lounges have improved dramatically although there is a great difference between say Virgin”s excellent Clubhouse and the rather nominal facilities some carriers offer. Fast Track was (and probably is) a good idea but even that can get congested at times and perhaps a complaint can be brought against BAA plc for not having enough staff at times for a service that is charged for.
Where it can all go wrong for a business class passenger who has paid a premium fare is between leaving the lounge and actually boarding the aircraft. It is not a problem with all airlines, and the ones with the best cabin service have in the main sorted out the ground arrangements, but more often than not the arrangements prior to boarding are poor, sometimes scandalously so. By purchasing a premium ticket the customer expects top quality service on the aircraft and equal looking after on the ground. However many carriers are falling down with pre-boarding arrangements that can leave a lot to be desired. Business class passengers don”t want to queue prior to the gate check-in and on the air bridge. They want and expect the quickest and smoothest transfer between lounge and aircraft. A premium service should be clearly marked at the gate and made very plain to all concerned. What”s the point of paying a great deal of money and then having to wait in a long queue behind those who have purchased budget tickets. Business class should mean business class from check-in until immigration at the other end. A good and consistent service. Airlines and airport operators please note that whilst the masses travel over the coming summer months special attention still needs to be made to those who are really contributing to your profits, the business class traveller.