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With Premium Class Travel on the Rise Again, What Does That Mean for the Economy Sector?

March 20, 2014 at 8:51 AM | by | ()

IATA, the International Air Transport Association, released numbers yesterday that showed premium travel to be on the rise. Premium passenger numbers rose 6.1% in January, up from the 4.2% growth in the same month of 2013. Much of the increase is attributed to "positive business developments," especially in the Far East.

"Growth in Asian trade activity over recent months has helped support international business and premium travel," the report said. "There have been some signs of improvement in trade growth in regions like Europe, the US and Asia. This has helped support the stronger growth we are seeing in business-related premium travel over recent months."

This sounds like great news, and it is - for some people. For business travelers, airlines, and luxury travelers, the fact that more money is being thrown around for premium-class travel is encouraging. The airlines make money, and have incentive to continue to develop their service and premium cabins.

But what does this end up meaning for economy travelers? There are two possible outcomes: 1) The increased revenue from premium class trickles down the line, lowering the cost of tickets in economy class, or 2) Premium classes continue to grow as the main money-maker for airlines, and economy class becomes, or remains, nothing more than an afterthought.

Obviously, we expect and demand to see the result be closer to the first possibility than the second. We are all for the premium cabins, but we also don't believe that flying comfortably should only be for someone with a corporate account. Assuming this trend continues, the reactions of the airlines in terms of airplane design, ticket prices, and general attitude will let us know whether or not they agree.

Have thoughts? Leave them in the comments below.

[Photo: Cynthia Drescher]

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