Attention First-Class Fliers: Airlines Want to Woo You

If priority boarding and custom-made cocktails aren’t incentive enough to fly first-class, airlines are now investing in luxuries to attract the biggest share of high-flying customers – including business travelers.

Premium-class passengers now account for 75 percent of revenue on cross-country flights, though the majority of us are still in coach. But the industry is shifting its focus to frequent first-class fliers, thus the battle for your business is just beginning. Here’s how:

#1: Lavish lounges

Long layovers and security lines mean travelers are spending more time in the airport. To make the experience better, carriers are spending millions to upgrade or build new premium lounges around the U.S. It’s an attempt to keep up with better business traveler lounges abroad, which boast amenities like hair salons, movie theaters and pool tables.

To compete, Delta opened a lounge with an outdoor “Sky Deck” at JFK (soon Atlanta will get the same) for travelers who like plane spotting, and some fresh air. United has been upgrading 49 of its United Club locations, with swanky new bars, plush furniture and expanded workstations.


#2: Comfy cabins


The best example of carrier’s push to make things more cush is to consider changes to “The Golden Route” – the New York/Los Angeles flight that attracts 3.2 million travelers per year. How can you sit back, relax, and enjoy this popular transcontinental flight? Why from the comfort of your flat-bed seat, of course. The “cozy factor” in first and business class is getting more attention thanks to some luxurious cabin reorganization:

  • Delta is changing up some of its Boeing 767s with flat-bed seats to include cross-country service. It’s also adding flat-bed seats on narrow-body 757s on NY-LA routes.
  • United is rearranging its cabins to go from three classes of service to two.
  • And in November, American will start flying Airbus A321 single-aisle jets modified with 10 mini-suites with flat-bed seats and 20 fully flat business-class seats.

With this new trend, top-end road warriors and travel managers should expect a lot in the way of wooing in coming months. From a sleeker airport experience, to a cushier airplane cabin, carriers are doing what it takes to win your business.  

But will it work? Tweet us @Concur or comment below and let us know if the airlines are doing enough to make your premium experience worth the cost to fly first-class.


Photo credit: Tom Mascardo


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