I’d happily pay extra to an airline to treat me like a VIP. Would you?
I recently flew Singapore Airlines’ First Class for the first time. It was a trans-Pacific flight, so I got to enjoy it for the longest time possible (23hrs!). What an amazing experience it was. Aside from the product aspects, the service was unmatched. A level I had never experienced before, not on SIA’s economy class, and not on any other First Class.
This got me thinking…the marginal cost providing an exceptional service nothing compared to that of providing a superior product in a plane. And if such a service could be offered to the masses (in Economy class) for a charge, then it might be a win-win!
What a VIP service on Economy class could be like?
Great service on-board SIA is something even other airlines talk about (Aeroflot sent their staff to be trained by SIA last year!). But not everything that’s offered on First Class can be duplicated on Economy. So, here’s a quick list of what can and cannot be done:
- Being addressed by name, all the time – this happens even on Indian budget airlines!
- Genuine smiles all over. Everytime I looked at the SIA Girls, it only made me feel happier – Probably the easiest thing to duplicate and the most lacking in the Economy cabin. Just 🙂
- Speed through security and immigration. Singapore Airlines offers speed-passes to their First Class passengers so that they can skip the lines/queues. Easy to duplicate for passengers willing to pay for the service too
- Limousine pick-up and drop-off. Virgin Atlantic does this for the Upper Class, so do a lot of the Middle Eastern airlines. How about charging standard fee for hassle-free drop offs? airBaltic does this in Riga, Latvia.
- Premium check-in and porters at the airport. Wouldn’t you like to just skip all the check-in lines, especially with all the increased security? How about checking in bags at the hotel itself? Or even in the parking lot? Guests at Disney resorts can do both! And I’m sure airlines can tie up with hotels on this bit, and they both make some bucks.
- For food, choose your own Chef – this is already being done by a couple of airlines in Economy Class, like Etihad Airways. So, why can’t the rest of the airlines provide this, at a fee?
- How about an exit-first fee? We all know how irritating it is to stand in the aisle for over 15 mins trying to get out, even after the door has opened. How about charging a fee for priority exit for passengers who’re in a hurry? This is something I wish I had mentioned in my “Back to the future” video as well.
Why treating Economy Class passengers would work for an airline brand?
It’s not just the passengers who’d feel good about being pampered, but even the airlines can benefit from this. Here’s how:
- Airlines are charging for a value-added service, not something that was meant to be included (like free checked bags!)
- Economy Class passengers need not be treated like cattle – each one can customize his or her own experience a little
- It’s the masses who create the most buzz – so treat them well and the airline would leverage on the Word of Mouth
- Passengers should be able to use their miles for such VIP experiences as well – which works in the favor of the airline. Since miles required for such experiences be much lesser than that for a full flight, more people are likely to burn miles
- LCCs can offer services only they excel in, like satay on AirAsia and fresh-baked cookies on Midwest – and competition will find it difficult to replicate
- An ala-carte system like Air Canada’s can be created to upsell offerings while the booking is being made
These are not such outlandish ideas after all, and I say this because of something Chris Brogan wrote over a year ago:
Is there any way we can fix that “get off the plane” part of my trip? The amount of time between that bell ding and actually walking by the pilots to thank them for a non-bumpy landing seems to last forever. Isn’t there any kind of Disney people-in-line engineering that would fix this process? Tazers for slow people? At this point, I’d pay an extra 10 bucks for you to restrain people so I can just leave efficiently.
So, what do you think? Will any airlines jump on this? Would you pay to be treated like a VIP and not cattle? Let’s hear it in the comments section and over on Twitter (@simpliflying)