Tag Archives: Airline

Going First Class

I’m going to be on an airplane later this week. I used to travel a lot for my job, often going over 100.000 miles a year. I never tallied up the time that took, but the air portion alone was probably the equivalent of 5 or 6 work weeks aloft. Add in getting to and from the airport plus time at the airport itself and travel was a significant part of my life.


(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One great thing happened to my travel life when I made VP. Suddenly I was allowed to book travel in business or first class. Back in the 80’s and 90’s, it was a little bigger seat and some better food. Today, it’s the difference between leaving the plane with sore knees (from the person in front of you hitting your legs) and hungry vs. arriving relatively intact and ready to do business. Still, if you’re paying your own way or traveling on vacation, why fly first class instead of coach? After all, you get to the same place at the same time and the price difference is extremely significant. My answer is something that I think applies everywhere in business.

The airline business has a system now that packs people into planes in a way that maximizes profit. The seats are closer together and an in-flight meal consists of generally unhealthy snacks (stick to the peanuts, kids). You’re charged for everything from bags to blankets. Flying in first is, in short, a much better experience. You’re paying for better care, not for faster or better transportation. Once again, cost vs. value.

Here is the thing. In the course of maximizing profit, the airlines have relegated the comfort and happiness of the majority of their customers to secondary status. I suspect they’re not alone in this. One supermarket will have people walking throughout the store to help you while another will have you walk to the customer service desk if you need help finding something. Yes, the prices may be a bit lower at the latter but isn’t the former a better experience and worth a small premium? First class vs. coach in terms of the experience. Have you ever bought shoes from Zappo’s? They cost about the same as elsewhere but their customer service and support is legendary and a significant point of differentiation. It’s flying in first vs. coach once again.

Customers don’t forget. Think about the grievances you have with most businesses and I’m willing to bet they’re both relatively petty and related to the business choosing profit over customer happiness. Because I refuse to step foot on one of their planes ever again, I will pay a little more this week not to fly an airline that has treated me and many other customers like crap. I’ll also fork over a few bucks to sit in an exit row because it’s a better experience for my legs but I’m not happy about having to do so when there are open seats that in the old days I could have chosen for nothing but now cost more. The real question for your business is how can you provide that first class experience at a coach price even if the bottom line takes a tiny hit?

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Filed under Consulting, Helpful Hints, Thinking Aloud

The Problem With Cheap

Ruinair, only £0.01! (price excludes fees & ch...

Ever been left at the gate by an airline?  I almost was twice – once because a connection was late and the other in circumstances similar to the story I’ll get to in a second.  It’s an incredibly frustrating feeling under any circumstances and when you believe it wasn’t really due to anything you did that frustration can change to anger rather quickly.  Which is why I read reports like this and wonder what the airline is thinking. Continue reading

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People, People

Postcard image of :en:Douglas DC-7 in :en:Delt...
Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes things do work out well.  For me, a long-planned vacation is going to happen thanks to someone at Delta Air Lines. For you, this will be the last post on my airline miles!

The business lessons we can take away from the Missing Miles incident won’t go away and the fundamental one is something I’ve written about over and over: don’t confuse the technology with the business. In the case of Delta, their smart business skills overcame their not so smart use of technology. Continue reading

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Filed under Helpful Hints, Reality checks


Delta Air Lines 767-332(ER) N194DN
Image by caribb via Flickr

This is going to be a post of a different sort.  There are so many things to discuss, it may even end up being more than one post.  Well, depending on how it all turns out, it may be an entire series.  First, the facts, then the business points, then my plea to each of you. Continue reading


Filed under Helpful Hints, Huh?, Reality checks


Spirit Airlines
Image via Wikipedia

Imagine reading an ad for a cheap movie ticket.  Instead of paying the usual $10.50, the ticket is $3 and it’s a brand new movie you’ve been waiting to see.  You rush to the box office and buy tickets for your and your significant other.  The ticket seller takes your $6 and before handing you the tickets asks “would you two like to sit together? Continue reading

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