The price difference between economy and business class seats on flights is staggering. Ticket prices vary depending on route and demand, but, on United Airlines, a seat in economy class (for a long haul flight) can cost you $1,071 compared to a business class at $7,050. Recently, United Airlines has introduced a new class of service for travellers looking for something between the two extremes on some of its longest international flights.
These seats are called “Premium Plus” and can cost $3,660. Those willing to pay more than the regular coach-class fare will receive bigger seats with deeper reclines, free alcoholic beverages and noise-reducing headphones, among other perks. United Airlines will be launching these premium economy class seats on 21 international routes by May and service will begin on some international flights from March 30, 2019 onwads. By introducing this new class of seats, United Airlines aim to encourage passengers to pay higher fares and to avoid the lower quality services.
Many are sceptical as to whether these new seats will attract customers. However, recently a multitude of limitations have been implemented on basic economy seats. For example, basic economy passengers have been prohibited from using overhead bins. Due to this, many customers have parted ways from basic economy seats as they understand what these seats entail and numerous airlines including United Airlines are upselling, having a product that people do not want to buy and so choose another. In this case, they will choose premium plus. Therefore, these seats appear more attractive than basic economy seats and thus should be a success.
In addition to this, one of the main reasons why airlines are introducing these new seats is to compete with low-cost carriers such as Spirit. These airlines have implemented these seats in the hope that they can attract more customers by bridging the gap between the two extremes of class on long international flights, without customers paying a large amount of extra money.
However, how fair is this to customers? Although the prices are not as drastic for business class seats, they are still considerably more. Reducing basic economy seats to the bare minimum then expecting passengers to pay around $1500 more for a few extra perks does not seem reasonable to many customers. Although, for airlines, it is beneficial as it should increase their revenue which they can reinvest further to improve their services on flights and become more competitive in the market.