United, Delta, American and now JetBlue are competing for travel dollars, but not those of the average coach traveler who flies once or twice a year. Instead, the major U.S. airlines are revamping seats and service to draw in a specific kind of passenger: the premium traveler.
Those travelers will soon be able to fly in JetBlue’s new lie-flat seats between Los Angeles/San Francisco and New York. Meanwhile, leg room on coach planes is declining. Currently, coach seats offer between 31-33 inches of leg room.
Why is the focus shifting away from the largest populations of travelers, the coach traveler? Business and First Class seats offer a significantly higher profit margin or yield for an airline. In fact, if they fill the first-class section of the airplane with paying customers, coach can be empty and airlines will still turn a profit. But if they don’t fill the First or Business Class seats with paying customers, they will barely break even from a completely full coach cabin.
By the current model, you can argue that the airlines are saying coach passengers matter less. And, true to the laws of unintended consequences, as low-cost options decline, inter-city bus travel is on the rise.
Watch Peter’s latest CBS This Morning report to see why the coach passenger is losing value in the current travel economy.
Jealous of the cabin upfront? check out:
- The World’s Best Business and First Class Seats
- Upgraded Business Class Seating
- Best & Worst New First Class Seats