I’ve been very fortunate to spend the majority of my life’s flying time in the front of the plane. It started decades ago and I’ve rarely flown in economy since. One of those rarities is pictured above when we made the mistake of flying economy from LAX to Bangkok. I’m not sure however that the photo does justice to exactly how uncomfortable it was.
We’re off to New York this week, and we’ll be flying in economy. This tide may now be shifting not only for us, but as an industry trend.
Why are we flying economy?
We aren’t premium passengers with United Airlines, with whom we’ll be flying, although we once were. We haven’t flown UA in years, and do not have any of their miles. So for us, the cost to upgrade from economy to Economy Plus was several hundred dollars and to upgrade to First, over $1,200. We decided to take our chances and spend the money on a better hotel and more theater.
I’ll report back on how this 5,000 plus mile journey in UA Economy works out.
Why does this look to be an industry trend?
USA Today is reporting information from American Express Business Travel Monitor, saying that as air travel becomes more expensive, passengers are choosing to upgrade less often than before. Will this be an industry trend? If our plans are an example, I’d say the answer is yes, which will hit airlines hard.
The report says that the number of international business class seats is down 2 percent recently, compared with last year. At the same time, the number of first class seats sold for North American travel dropped from 4 percent to 3 percent. Since domestic First travel typically yields airlines hundreds of extra dollars per seat and international First yields thousands of extra dollars, if this trend continues, it will be yet another blow to the airlines’ coffers.
I think that we as passengers as well as the airlines are in uncharted waters.