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VIP flight: how airlines bring first-class luxury to an absurdity and worsen economy conditions

Many do not understand why airlines are adding another ridiculous service to their offerings - they now take passengers to the gate in limousines and offer cabins with beds, separate showers and butler services. But these airline perks are not for everyone. They are only available to elite passengers or the super-rich. The rest must tolerate narrow seats in a zero-maintenance economy. USA Today.

Photo: Shutterstock

Airlines have invented a flying caste system that confuses and offends any honest traveler. Who ever asked for this? Says Shane Chapman, senior vice president of airline relations at Ovation Travel.

“Awesome perks start in the VIP check-in area, away from the chaos at the airport,” says Chapman. - Next, you get a separate entrance to the TSA PreCheck area and then go to the Club Lounge. Some lounges offer hotel amenities including sleeping rooms, showers and gourmet meals. ”

These special passengers will never have to go through the long hall. They get to the gates at Cadillac (American Airlines), Porsche (Delta Air Lines) or Mercedes (United Airlines).

The onboard experience, especially on international flights, is just as excellent. Premium passengers have their own cabins where they are pampered and fed, sleeping on flat beds. And yes, some planes have showers (domestic flights are a slightly different matter, there the class inequality is not so great).

How to get it? Most likely, for most of us this is not available. Such privileges are reserved for the best customers of the airline belonging to the secret clubs American's Concierge Key, Delta's Diamond 360 and United's Global Services. As a rule, you can become a member of the club only by personal invitation.

But the question is different: who needs it? The passengers of the airlines Chapman spoke to claimed that they would have had a little more personal space, the opportunity to take their luggage with them and, perhaps, have a meal on long-haul flights.

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It's all about micro-targeting

Of course, airline passengers don't require showers on planes. Conventional wisdom: all luxury cars and first-class interiors are just a marketing ploy designed to lure big buyers.

This is, according to the permanent travel consultant for the Lola.com business travel application, Yanni Pulakosa, microtargeting.

“Think of it as the travel equivalent of elite Instagram influencers,” he says.

At the same time, those “base” economy-class locations that do not have baggage, designated seats and the possibility of changing tickets represent another type of microtargeting. All this offers the most price-sensitive passengers the opportunity to fly, the expert says.

But conventional wisdom may be wrong. It is assumed that the people in the back of the plane asked for a flight without service - but this is not the case. They want to be treated like valued customers, but they end up paying for every move. Plus, at the end of the flight, they sign up for the airline's amazing frequent flyer credit card, which only adds to the accumulation of debt that enriches the airline.

This is not microtargeting. It is more like a bait. It is as if airlines are saying to economy class passengers: “Do you want to be served better?” Become a member of the loyalty program and we will think about it. ”

Not all passengers are thrilled with these privileges.

Barbara Glavish, a retired woman from Incline Village, Nevada, recently used all her American Express Rewards to fly to France with more amenities. And what a flight it was!

She and her husband used a special reception in Los Angeles. The employee then escorted the couple through a private security corridor. They got in a luxury car to the gate, where staff welcomed them with a glass of champagne. And, of course, the flight itself was luxurious: large comfortable seats, food in china and a lot of personal space.

“It's ridiculous that airlines are putting so much effort into increasing the number of seats and decreasing the level of service for the majority of travelers,” she says. "I remember a time when economy was the same as first class on domestic flights is now."

Glavish believes that companies should probably start offering all passengers humane space and service.

No one disputed this idea a generation ago, but now people are laughing at it, claiming to be travel experts. Chapman wonders: maybe it's time to put these experts in one of the tiny places of the economy class. If this does not change their minds, then everything will remain unchanged.

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The most incredible airline privileges

First class on the Emirates A380: the price includes not just a shower, but a full-fledged shower. You can also freshen up with the exclusive Emirates Private Collection from Bvlgari.

Singapore Airlines SilverKris Loung is like a home away from home. The lounge features tastefully selected works of art, individually designed booths to allow you to work in privacy and comfort, and gourmet food and drinks.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Transfer Service: Car to Gate is one thing, but Virgin Atlantic is taking that service to the next level by offering premium passengers a ride to and from the airport. “You will enjoy the luxury of top class travel from the moment we pick you up to the moment we take you to your destination,” the airline said in a statement. "No stress, no fuss."

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