Consumerist Poll: Is First-Class Travel Really Necessary?

Faced with a 20% drop in ‘premium’ travel as compared to a year ago, some airlines (Qantas, BA) have started cutting back on their first-class fanciness. Some (Emirates, Air France, Lufthansa) find the idea “unthinkable”. Yet those airlines who continue to invest in first-class travel might be making the smarter move: they’re hoping these passengers will stay loyal when the economy bounces back. Which is not such a bad idea, considering the fact that first-class passengers are the ones keeping the airlines afloat. (Uh, aloft?)

British Airways shocked the world recently when it announced plans to cut back on the number of seats in some first-class cabins, and even *aargh!* introduce some planes with no first-class cabin at all. Which means no more Egyptian cotton pillows or lobster Thermidor. Similarly, Qantas announced it will no longer offer sheepskin and truffles on certain flights until further notice.

But Lufthansa and Air France/KLM are having none of it. They’re going right ahead, building massive, expensive, ego-flattering airport lounges for their very favorite people — expense accounters and heiresses who didn’t invest with Madoff. Lufthansa even created its own terminal for these people (you get chauffeured to your plane in a Porsche Cayenne!!).

Which brings us to our poll:

For Some Airlines, Recession Doubts Are Taking a Back Seat [New York Times]
(Photo: thepatrick)