October 19, 2012 Qantas Invests in Its Business Class Soft Product
I was a member of OnePass since 1991. That was in the bad old days of corporate raider Frank Lorenzo. Since 1991 I have flown Continental BusinessFirst three times, once was an op-up on EWR-DUB in 2009 and twice using a SWU in 2012. I’ve flown United Global First once, NRT-SEA in 2011 on an award ticket. In other American airlines I flew World Business Class on Northwest once in 2009 on DTW-AMS and I bought up on US for PHL-MAD. Compare this with non-US carriers and it becomes clear I have or will fly in a premium cabin on: Thai x3, Asiana x2, Lufthansa, Singapore, Cathay Pacific, Korean Air x3, JAL, and Virgin Atlantic. There is a Swiss ticket in there, but that is still up in the air. All of this is by way of saying that I don’t really like to fly US premium cabins, why because they are generally not worth the money or points.
Almost universally, Non-U.S. carriers deliver a better premium experience than U.S. carriers. Today Qantas announced that is going to be improving its long haul business class product. Changes include a duvet/”mattress pad” for the seat, amenity kits by Kate and Jack Spade, advanced meal selection, and car service to/from the airport. On United in their business class one gets none of that, well one gets an amenity kit (with Chinese toothpaste). See the Stuck At The Airport Blog for more details. www.stuckattheairport.com/2012/10/19/sleep-tight-on-qantas-new-amenities-for-business-class-passengers.
For a person paying with cash, the increased service and soft product may not be worth the 20% premium that Qantas commands. But Qantas is selling the seats, and that means while the improved products cost more they generate a premium that exceeds their costs. Qantas is delivering a higher quality product that is generating quality revenue. When a person uses points, the difference is even starker. With points Lufthansa and United first cost the same amount. In that case why would I ever chose United unless, there was no availability on Lufthansa. This is something American understands and is why they are investing in their soft product. If U.S. carriers had a better product I would fly them more.
P.S. I am off on Mileage Run this weekend, so you can look forward to an exciting trip report on Monday.