• Fears that some wealthy customers may not return
• Company posted worst loss ever of £401m
Business class passengers famously draw envious glances from the herd in economy by turning left when they enter a plane, but it is the first class ticket holders who are the most pampered. On British Airways’ 747s they ascend to their Kelly Hoppen-designed cabin and don their free pyjamas and slippers before supping on the likes of lobster thermidor, pan-seared wild Scottish salmon or roasted Cornish game hen, then slip between the sheets of their roomy – and extremely flat – bed.
Now, however, this most opulent form of travel is under threat.
The global downturn has devastated demand for expensive seats, and even Hollywood stars and bankers are shying away from BA’s extravagant first class prices.
A couple of observations here:
A first class round-trip ticket from Newark to London starts at $8,306, while a business class ticket on the same day is $3,672 (“not including taxes, fees and charges”). The huge difference in price, $4,634, will pay for two business class tickets and you still have $962, which will do for a night at a nice hotel (or at least for those “taxes, fees and charges” you get pounded with).
Additionally, the really well heeled have private jets, even while corporate private jets are becoming a thing of the past.
While a first class ticket may be a status symbol, it’s a status symbol that lasts only during your flight, where everybody else is paying attention to other things. It’s not cost-effective for the traveler. During a recession, it’s not surprising that BA has had to drop it.
And BA has had money troubles for a very long time. They only surprising thing is that it took them this long.