Sabot L'ours (sabotlours) wrote,
Sabot L'ours

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The Friendly Skies

Have you ever noticed how products tend to go through an evolution where there is high quality which then gets turned into high volume which then eventually gets turned back into high quality? Look at how things were done in the pre-WWII years. There were bakeries, butchers, dry goods stores, etc. It may have been inconvenient to have to go to several stores to get all you needed, but the products were of high quality. Then came the post-war era of convenience. There was the rise of the supermarket and the use of "space-age technology" to mass produce items. That got taken to the next level with the Super Walmart where everything could be purchased under one roof. But if you notice, there are starting to be cracks in that consumer fortress. People are now willing to travel to several specialty stores to once again get high quality products instead of braving the rabble that inhabit the Walmarts for cheap goods (cheap, in all senses of the word).

Another example would be Starbucks. For years Americans were happy to drink brown water that was passed off as coffee. Few if any stores carried nice fresh beans. Everything was from a can. Starbucks showed Americans that coffee can taste really good. They also realized that Americans would pay $$$ to drink really good coffee. They grew and flourished.

So the other day I was thinking that the airline industry was about ready for such a change in paradigm. I saw an article about an airline that will fly to India where 1st class passengers have their own little rooms. There was entertainment like movies on demand and thousands of mp3 files. The only downside was that airfares were like $13,000.

So my thought would be to make small changes in how the airlines do business and offer the customer something that is lacking in most air travel, service and comfort. I did a quick calculation that if you eliminated 30% of the seats on a plane but raised the cost %30, you would probably would not lose money because people would be willing to pay for that extra comfort. I guess what I'm talking about is an all business class airplane without the ass-raping prices of business class or 1st class.

If some airline initiates such service I would definitely buy stock in it. I think we have swung so far over to the no-frills market that there is starting to be backlash against it just like there is backlash against Walmart. People love cheap prices, but they also love service. We have been conditioned to the point that if we're given a bag of peanuts we think we're getting great service. And we don't have to go back to the days of hot meals (which were usually pretty crappy to begin with.) When Kitty and I took Amtrak's Empire Builder from Portland to Chicago, we didn't have a dining car for the first night. The dining car came on the Seattle portion that was combined at Spokane. Our dinner on that first night was essentially a small picnic lunch, but it was filled with such tasty goodness that we felt we had been served a gourmet meal. That's what I'm talking about! Treat the customer with little "luxuries" to keep them happy at a relatively minimal cost. I hope someone from the airline industry Googles this blog.
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