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  1. #1
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    How the other 1% Fly

    Airlines’ First Class Makeovers Give the Rich Hotel Rooms in the Sky


    • Carriers are investing billions of dollars to upgrade cabins
    • Strong demand for premium travel in the wake of Covid pandemic



    Qantas' First Class suite. Source: Qantas Airways Ltd.
    By Danny Lee

    May 12, 2023 at 4:00 AM GMT+7


    Airlines are reinvigorating first class as deep-pocketed customers embrace travel again, taking luxury to new heights up in the sky.
    First-class cabins are increasingly resembling mini hotel rooms, with sofas, double beds, televisions, desks, wardrobes, minibars and in some cases, walk-in showers. The more creative, the better. You can even book a chef.

    The investment is happening despite slowing economic growth and a cost-of-living squeeze. Airlines are betting that enough people are willing to splurge on flying in style after being grounded by Covid and denied the chance to travel.


    Lufthansa’s first-class suite.
    Source: Deutsche Lufthansa AG
    “Leisure travelers in particular continue to book flights in business or even first class,” Deutsche Lufthansa AG Chief Executive Officer Carsten Spohr said during an earnings call in March. “This year is the first year all my team tell me, ‘Spohr, we need to grow first class,’” he told investors last week.

    The German airline is investing $2.7 billion over two years to revamp its long-haul aircraft under a program it has named Lufthansa Allegris. Qantas Airways Ltd. is also showcasing a plush new first class, a realm that’s typically beyond the reach of ordinary passengers — the closest most people get is a stolen glance as they shuffle conga-line style to the plane’s exit doors.

    Why Now?

    The International Air Transport Association estimates that airlines suffered about $200 billion in losses over the past three years as Covid wreaked unprecedented havoc. They desperately need to claw some of that back, and first class has become a potential goldmine. Premium travel, which also includes business class, is back to 86% of 2019 levels, according to IATA, while total air travel demand, including economy class, is at 81%.

    Even with first class fares going for more than 10 times as much as standard economy seats, demand is there - either for bookings with cash or the rare opportunity to use up miles accumulated on credit cards during the pandemic.

    “There is still a large amount of excess savings,” said David Mann, chief Asia economist at Mastercard Inc. “The willingness and the ability to spend doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon, which most likely explains why airlines are making announcements.”

    Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. is also planning an upgrade of first class. There’s already strong demand for its current top-of-the-range seats, which are available on one of its Hong Kong-London services. The cabins include “one of the widest fully flat beds in the sky,” various soft pillows and pillow mist, according to the airline’s website.

    Of course, travelers in first class also get access to the best airport lounges. And pajamas.

    What Else Is On Offer?

    Qantas and Lufthansa have both unveiled new-look first-class cabins that can be fully closed off with doors, joining trailblazers Singapore Airlines Ltd., Emirates and Etihad Airways PJSC in converting seats into suites.

    First class on the Emirates A380.
    Source: Emirates

    The seats in Lufthansa’s new rooms can be heated or cooled, while there are also wardrobes for extra storage. That’s quite the transformation from what was previously an open-plan arrangement with little privacy. At its Frankfurt hub, a personal assistant is on hand to greet first-class customers and take care of all “travel formalities swiftly and discreetly,” the German airline says.

    “Pressure to keep up with the times may be sufficient justification for such a large investment,” Daniel Baron, managing director of Tokyo-based Lift Aero Design, said of airlines plowing money into cabin makeovers.

    First class on Singapore Airlines.
    Source: Singapore Airlines Ltd.
    Splashing Out

    A return Sydney-Los Angeles flight in Qantas first class costs almost $18,000, while Frankfurt-Tokyo on Lufthansa is about $15,000. That’s still significantly less that what some ultra-wealthy travelers fork out for private jets, a segment that experienced a boost during the pandemic as people looked to avoid crowds and virus-related restrictions.

    AIRLINES NEW FIRST CLASS ARRIVING
    Air France, Japan Airlines Winter 2023
    Lufthansa, Swiss 2024
    Qantas, Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific 2025

    “The aviation industry is responding to that demand,” said Melanie Lieberman, a managing editor at The Points Guy travel website. First class is “a very safe, reliable sector” where people are willing to pay up “for space, privacy and exclusivity, even during difficult economic downturns.”
    More Luxury

    Lufthansa’s newest Boeing Co. 787s and Airbus SE A350s will have two single suites in first class as well as a double called Suite Plus that can fit a couple of people. Those have ceiling-high walls and a closable door and will be introduced in 2024.

    Floor plan of the Lufthansa suites.
    Source: Deutsche Lufthansa AG
    The suite “conveys the feeling of privacy and individuality similar to a hotel room, only at an altitude of 11 kilometers,” senior Lufthansa executive Jens Ritter said at the product’s launch in Berlin in February.

    As part of the fleet revamp, Lufthansa business class will also have suites with chest-high walls and sliding doors.
    Qantas, meanwhile, has space for 14 passengers in first class on its A380 superjumbos. Its newer, smaller A350s can fit six. Individual cabins currently feature armchairs and a 212-centimeter (83 inches) flat bed with memory foam mattress, as well as cotton throws, a duvet and pillow menu.

    The cabins are designed so they can seat two people in case travelers want to eat together.

    Qantas first class.
    Source: Qantas Airways Ltd.
    These exclusive zones occupy plenty of space on aircraft. A standard first-class suite on A380s flown by Singapore Air, which tops Skytrax industry rankings for the segment, takes up about 50 square feet, which is almost a third of the size of an average Hong Kong apartment.
    Coming Next

    Lufthansa and Qantas are some of the first airlines to release details about their plans for first class in smaller, long-haul jets, which will potentially be used on a greater number of routes.

    Others entering the fray include Air France and Japan Airlines Co., with new cabins as soon as this winter. The French airline says it will offer the “longest suite in the market,” with five windows, a seat, bed and sofa. Qatar Airways is also due to revamp first class on its delayed Boeing 777-9s.


    Majestically enthroned amid the vulgar herd

  2. #2
    Thailand Expat Backspin's Avatar
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    • Strong demand for premium travel in the wake of Covid pandemic
    Because Covid was such a boon to economic productivity.

  3. #3
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    Where are all the budget airlines ? Thats how i roll. When i travel theres 4 of us usually ,i cant afford such extravegance ( oh fuk me hows my spelling?) Just wanna get from point A to point B cheaply with minimal fuss, i will pony up for a bit of extra legroom. And all i really need is a cold beer or 3 . I was wondering about the damn price of these types of seats but if i have to ask then i guess i cant afford it

  4. #4
    Hangin' Around cyrille's Avatar
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    COVID made the mega rich more mega rich.

    Also reflected in mega mansion prices.

    'Despite' (ie 'Because of' ) the 'difficult downturn'.

    Bloomberg seems utterly facile on the evidence of tc's extracts.

  5. #5
    Thailand Expat Backspin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyrille View Post
    COVID made the mega rich more mega rich.

    Also reflected in mega mansion prices.

    'Despite' (ie 'Because of' ) the 'difficult downturn'.

    .
    Yes. Because of the money printing.

  6. #6
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    What’s up SoCal? Did none of that money filter down to you? Or maybe you are just disappointed that you could not afford coach class tickets to PI or Thailand?

  7. #7
    Thailand Expat Backspin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Switch View Post
    What’s up SoCal? Did none of that money filter down to you? Or maybe you are just disappointed that you could not afford coach class tickets to PI or Thailand?
    I could have afforded it. That's not the point. You have no fucking idea and neither does anyone else , how expensive it can be flying out of Western Canada.

    Sure. I could have just paid the nearly $3000 per ticket. I guess some ppl just pay. Stupid decisions like that is how ppl get poor. Which I am not. And don't intend to be

    Flying out of the UK costs chicken feed

  8. #8
    Thailand Expat
    aging one's Avatar
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    deleted, not worth it.

  9. #9
    Thailand Expat Backspin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aging one View Post
    54,000 baht mid July YVR?BKK one stop in Narita. Pity that is too much for you. Bummer to be poor, and living day to day.












    Google Flights.
    Im not living day to day at all lol. Why is it that most members know that I am not poor but you?

  10. #10
    Thailand Expat Backspin's Avatar
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    I had Vancouver to Manila to Don Maung and back to Van all figured out and at a decent price. Then 2 days later the prices went insane and that was that

  11. #11
    Thailand Expat Backspin's Avatar
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    Put your glasses on



    By the time is all said and done , it's $6700, with baggage fees and that bullshit. For shitty economy flight with stop overs.

    That's a kick in the balls. But again , some ppl just pay it I guess. It's just money. Maybe I will eventually. But for now , I can stomach it.
    Last edited by Backspin; 14-05-2023 at 12:28 PM.

  12. #12
    Thailand Expat David48atTD's Avatar
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    I reckon it's great mate that the 1st Classers and Business Class passengers are paying the top shelf.

    The flight has to make a profit and the more they charge those who can afford, the less they have to charge me to make the flight viable.

    And as BLD said ... "I will pony up for a bit of extra legroom"
    Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago ...


  13. #13
    Thailand Expat VocalNeal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Backspin View Post
    I had Vancouver to Manila to Don Maung and back to Van all figured out and at a decent price. Then 2 days later the prices went insane and that was that
    Then how about Vancouver to Chiang Mai.

  14. #14
    Thailand Expat Backspin's Avatar
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    I read in Simon's thread how he just hopped back over to SE Asia in barely 2 weeks notice. I checked flights from the UK to bkk 10 days out , and they were $800. That's fuck all

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    Quote Originally Posted by David48atTD View Post
    I reckon it's great mate that the 1st Classers and Business Class passengers are paying the top shelf.

    The flight has to make a profit and the more they charge those who can afford, the less they have to charge me to make the flight viable.

    And as BLD said ... "I will pony up for a bit of extra legroom"
    Thai airways are expensive. Try a different airline. KLM prices are under 900 Canadian dollars.

  16. #16
    Thailand Expat Backspin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VocalNeal View Post
    Then how about Vancouver to Chiang Mai.
    It is probably more and I am not into Chiang Mai.

  17. #17
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    Flights seem a lot more expensive of late- if the price was right I would somtimes book business class for long haul- not any more. I just feel lucky that I am still able to travel. Probably better to spend the money saved on a nice hotel room anyway.

  18. #18
    Hangin' Around cyrille's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandaloopy View Post
    Flights seem a lot more expensive of late- if the price was right I would somtimes book business class for long haul- not any more. I just feel lucky that I still have loaded parents
    Aye, it shows.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Backspin View Post
    I could have afforded it. That's not the point. You have no fucking idea and neither does anyone else , how expensive it can be flying out of Western Canada.

    Sure. I could have just paid the nearly $3000 per ticket. I guess some ppl just pay. Stupid decisions like that is how ppl get poor. Which I am not. And don't intend to be

    Flying out of the UK costs chicken feed
    You have just admitted that your decision was based on price. You can’t afford it then. Traveling during school holidays is always more expensive. Strange that you just had 2 years to save up, when you were grounded by Covid?

  20. #20
    Thailand Expat Backspin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Switch View Post
    You have just admitted that your decision was based on price. You can’t afford it then. Traveling during school holidays is always more expensive. Strange that you just had 2 years to save up, when you were grounded by Covid?
    You're fuckin rights its based on price. I have hundreds of thousands worth of savings in gold and other assets. That I don't feel like pissing away on an overpriced flight. If the flight was $12,000 I could afford it. That clearly isn't the point.

  21. #21
    Thailand Expat Airportwo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Backspin View Post
    Because Covid was such a boon to economic productivity.
    It was for the already rich!

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Backspin View Post
    You're fuckin rights its based on price. I have hundreds of thousands worth of savings in gold and other assets. That I don't feel like pissing away on an overpriced flight. If the flight was $12,000 I could afford it. That clearly isn't the point.
    I've just done a search on Skyscanner for a flight leaving Vancouver on Monday and returning from Bangkok around 2 weeks later and it came in at about 1000 pounds. That's not much more than flying from the UK and would be even cheaper if booked in advance.

  23. #23
    CCBW Stumpy's Avatar
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    While that's all fine and dandy it's an extreme overkill unless a long haul flight. ( At least 10hrs or more)

    The issue I am having with flying nowadays are all the fat fucks who are too cheap to fly at minimum economy plus or Premium economy or business class. They try and shoe horn their assess in-between the arm rests in coach and then bitch how uncomfortable they are and then start on about Why don't airlines make wider seats. My comment is, lose some fkn weight you fat fuck. Quit putting so much food in your damn mouth and get out an exercise a bit. If you can't sit comfy then cough up the money for a wider bigger area to plant your ass. On this last trip to the US on EVA I actually heard some lard ass bitch how small the bathrooms are. Ever see a fat tub o lard try and get out of their seat in coach? The person in front of them pays the price as they pull on the person's seat in front of them to get out.

    I say if you can't afford a proper seat to fit your size, don't fly. It's really that simple.

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    Thailand Expat
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    Yep,or if yer a tubster, before booking your flight take a gander in a full size mirror to get a reality check then book 2 adjoining seats , incase they forgot there lard asses

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by BLD View Post
    Yep,or if yer a tubster, before booking your flight take a gander in a full size mirror to get a reality check then book 2 adjoining seats , incase they forgot there lard asses
    I recall not long ago there was talk about forcing extremely fat fuckers to stump up for 2 seats. It seems to have gone quiet now though.

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