Do airlines treat passengers like VIP’s? Many seasoned travelers have very strong views about this, and the answer seems to be a resounding no.
OK so we can all recognise that the upside to mass air travel has been the huge reduction in ticket prices (mostly in economy class). However, does that give airlines the right to treat economy passengers as a ‘commodity’?
There is of course no question that necessary increases in security prior to flying - combined with an ever growing demand for cheap flights – has made the airport experience of the millennial years feel spectacularly worse than that of the two previous decades.
Economy passengers are being seen as commodities, without faces, without needs, without respect; and like all commodity markets, the difference between profit and loss can be very slim indeed.
Does any of this matter?
Is it simply the price we must pay for the expectation and acceptance of low cost air fares?
But wait, what about other traveler classes: Premium Economy, Business Class, and First Class? – Is the experience better?
Well the answer is probably ‘yes and no’. – The higher the class, the shorter the check-in line and the more polite the airline staff are to you. BUT, you still have to face the whole queuing to get through security, the indignity of being treated like everyone else, and you could easily be forgiven for thinking that the extra money you paid should deliver more than a ‘bigger seat’.
So is there an alternative?
Well maybe some people should take a look at private air travel.
‘Hold on a minute’ (I hear you say), ‘surely that is going to be more expensive still’?
Well that actually depends how you work out the real cost of your journey. – How do you value your time?
Do you charge by the hour?
Does taking several hours before travel matter to you?
Is there an opportunity cost to you of ‘doing the airport shuffle’?
So is private air travel all about business jets and designer clothes?
Well some of it is undoubtedly aimed at the high-rolling, big spending business community. But not all of it.
There are an increasing number of private air travel companies which offer surprisingly affordable travel solutions using turbo-prop aircraft that are cheaper to fuel and fly, and are more flexible with regards they airports and airfields they can operate from.
If you could fly from (say) Kent to Newcastle without queuing or having the whole airport ‘shuffle’ thing, wouldn’t that be attractive?
Drive up, get on the aircraft, relax in comfort, be treated like a customer… a VIP, do some work on the plane, or simply chill in comfort.
Is it really an option?
Well if you really value your time, perhaps you should do yourself a favour and check it out.
I graduated from the University of Warwick with a BSc Hons in Mathematics & Statistics. Since leaving university I have become Founder and Director of FlexiFly.co.uk.
While studying I played an active role in the family nursing home business, The Graham Care Group, and have continued as a Graduate Trainee alongside my work with FlexiFly, being involved with all areas of the business.
For some years I have been actively involved in international motorsport and achieved numerous awards as co-driver to a European Rally Champion (my dad!). It was these experiences of weekends in Europe that partly inspired us about how we could make air travel more flexible and convenient. The calibre of competitors we met on events have given us insight into the potential our alternative to traditional aircraft charter has.