Airlines up chase for corporate traveler
The chase is on for the corporate trekker
06/20/2012 @ 10:58
Airlines are racing to fill premium cabins on their planes with bed-like seats. They're speeding up access to the Web. And they're carving out space in coach class for those who'll pay more to stretch their legs.
The goal? To woo business travelers, who often book the more expensive, last-minute fares, as well as others willing to pay more to fly. The premium-paying customer has always been valuable, but they're more important than ever as airlines grapple with up and down fuel prices and try to compete in an industry increasingly dominated by a handful of mega-sized competitors.
"Premium customers are fewer in number, but they spend a greater amount of revenue,''says Chris Kelly Singley, a spokeswoman for Delta. "You have to continue to really invest in the product that's bringing those customers to you in the first place.''
Lie-flat seats, which allow road warriors to get some quality shut eye before heading to meetings, have become a particularly popular offering. United offers flat-bed seats in the premium cabins of nearly 150 jets and is adding them to over 30 more planes by early next year.
United, the world's largest airline since merging with Continental, says it has more of the bed-like seats than any of its U.S. peers. But other airlines are in hot pursuit. Delta plans to offer similar seats on more than half of its international wide-bodied fleet by the end of this year. And US Airways has its lie flat "Envoy Suite'' on its entire fleet of A330 jets, which ferry passengers across the Atlantic.
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