According to Peter Yesawich of the travel marketing company Ypartnership, even those who are sitting in first class seats typically did not buy the seats; they’re there on upgrades via frequent flyer miles or because of an earlier bumped flight and have been compensated for the inconvenience.
As demand for first-class seats continues to decrease, airlines are turning away from first class passengers as their bread and butter. Instead of depending on the first class customer to bring in profits, airlines are forced to begin focusing on the bargain-seeking consumer.
Another challenge airlines are facing is the rise of internet traveling sites. Before, airlines’ costs were hidden behind travel agencies and package rates. Now with the rise of the internet, consumers know the cost of everything, from the seats themselves to the cost of fuel and meals on board the flight.
Major airlines are trying to tempt business travelers to return to first class by offering novel perks, such as seats that completely recline for a better night’s sleep, fast internet service, and on-flight showers. For overseas business travelers, these perks are a major incentive to bring them back to first-class.
While the major airlines are finding ways to win back the coveted high end customer, boutique airlines that catered solely to the niche clientele have dissolved.
The truly rich clientele so desired by airlines find their own ways to fly that do not include relying on an airline. Major CEOs and movie stars rely instead on company or private planes, or even charter a plane with friends. With the hassle of flying due to security concerns and vast wait times, those that can afford to avoid mainstream airlines, do.