American Airlines Just Showed the Door to Customers Who Are Not Rich


The door divides?

Screenshot by ZDNet

Airlines have needs.

They tend to revolve around money.

That’s harder to make if you fire a lot of people during the pandemic and then find it hard to hire more people once the pandemic starts to subside.

Despite the claims of many, business travel has not reached pre-pandemic levels. However, vacationers are desperate to get on a plane and get away from anywhere.

So how can airlines make more money from this less-than-ideal situation?

A clue emerged last week when details of a new American Airlines plane leaked.

as the points man reported, the airline is expecting new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.

If you’ve never flown one of these, they’re smaller than your big old world plane and have quite a few comfortable, modern aspects, such as progressive blinds.

What’s different about American’s latest Dreamliners is that they rely a lot more on customers who have, well, a lot more money.

These will receive 51 Business Class seats. No wait. 51 Business Class pods.

And these pods have doors. Welcome to the gated community, at 36,000 feet.

The latest Dreamliners will also have 32 Premium Economy reclining seats.

In total, there are 41 fewer seats on these planes, compared to American’s previous 787-9s.

It is easy to draw conclusions.

American must believe that some people have made a lot of money in recent years. Whether they’re flying for business or not, they’re willing to spend more money for a more refined flying experience – these days, that’s a relatively refined experience.

American will then meet them in the belief that more margin can be made by offering (higher) exclusivity.

The airline isn’t alone in trying to find customers willing to spend more for something even slightly better. For example, even Southwest has allowed its enhanced business offerings — as it is now — to appear on aggregator Kayak, but only to those who are part of a business.

Some will muse that this separation of the haves and the have-nots reflects the increasing inequality that is infecting society.

The experience can be made worse on planes when Economy Class passengers board and pass Fancy Class passengers already on their second glass of champagne.

Research has even suggested that passing fancy seats is linked to increased anxiety among Economy Class passengers. You would think that airlines have had enough passenger unrest during the pandemic.

And did I mention that airline tickets have increased by about 20% lately?

One can absolutely understand American thinking. This is about money and a perception of who the most profitable future flyers will be. It’s perfectly clear commercial thinking.

But it is a somewhat difficult situation. It’s not like a restaurant, where the food is the same, the atmosphere the same, but some people order ridiculously priced wine. It’s a very different experience.

Of course, American isn’t the first airline to offer doors to high-paying customers. But the timing of the news here may feel uncomfortable to some.

They can see a larger, more palpable division of a potentially uncomfortable kind. And somehow emphasized by the introduction of new sliding doors for the chic.

If you are a regular American Airlines Economy Class customer and you have to walk through the gated community, how will you feel when you go to your own seat? Oh, maybe I forgot to mention it. Economy Class seats have not changed since the last version of this aircraft.

Dear American Airlines Economy Class passenger, please try to tolerate it.

One day you might get the chance to fly into the gated community and open a door to your seat.

It’s what they call the American dream.


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