Complicated booking classes

Oh no. Semantics. We recalled a year back we were looking for cheap flights from Newark to various destinations within the US. And it was so complicated. From booking classes (first, coach, basic) to seat location (main cabin, aircraft wing, pilot’s lap etc), to seat choices where you pay extra… so many options to have to choose from.

And then for us who are used to NOT paying for checked baggage, darn they charge US$25 per piece! In some cases, you might choose a seat where you pay more but don’t get any more service than the fella sitting next to you. Who could have paid what – like a hundred dollars less. And it borders on misleading the consumer.

This article some months ago illustrates this issue.

And today we what we want to focus upon is simplicty. Decluttering. You know in our daily lives we strive to live simple. Less complex is better. Get rid of unwanted stuff or those that do not really add value. Can airlines do the same in the way they offer their product? Afterall, it is first and foremost about getting people from point A to B. Safely. And comfortably where possible however you define that.

Getting ‘freebies’ is really nice, and let’s be honest who doesn’t want them? But we have to remember airlines are businesses too. So yes, they do want to profit from the endeavour of getting you (and us) to our desired destinations. We respect that. Surely they can get back to basics and KISS? You do know what that means right?

Don’t you think it is time for airline to declutter their complicated booking classes and options?

A bed for the flight

Now even business class fliers can experience having a double bed while flying 30,000 feet in the air in this article. If Qatar Air’s antics are emulated, we just might see even more airlines offering the same experience in this increasingly cut-throat segment of the airline industry.

The new design on the aircraft is said to be able to close out an area of 4-seats into a family pod! Qatar is sure trying to woo passengers away for a larger market share! You might recall how we wrote about first class travel (here) being neophytes when it comes to that level of luxury in the air. But this requires a couple or a family to share the bed or ‘communal space’…what if one were only traveling with a colleague for business?

Wow.

First we had the craft beer for the flights (read here). Then we have bars on the planes. All of them were for whom we called ‘airline royalty’ (read here). Perhaps we should start considering flying on air-ships that take a little bit longer than aircraft to get where we want to. And in the process, check into a cabin for the super long flight enjoying wonderful meals on top of the world. Literally…

Will we soon see the rise of cruise lines in the air? You just need to know that back in the early days of flying commercial, it took literally days to get from one end of the world (eg Australia) to the other (eg London). There were many flight stops along the way where passengers relaxed and changed. As if they were disembarking from a cruise ship.

Would we be headed back in that direction? If we can have Uber and AirBnB (a reboot of the old sharing economy), why can’t we have the same in aviation? Perhaps that all of this might be heralding in the second golden age of flying?

Real Class warfare

Actually this has been reported since March of 2016, but it seems that the real deal is finally coming to fruition. What’s that?

The notorious “Basic Economy” class. Click here for a very hilarious comic.

While the limelight had been soaked up by United airlines some time back, the other big 3 (American, Delta and US Air) had been mulling this step for what we thought was the longest of time. Update: AA, United and Delta are now all onboard this new travel class… Many in blogosphere has been highly critical. Honestly we do not think this is really innovative. We are frequent users of Singapore airlines and we are still baffled by the myriad of booking classes on their tickets! In case you are interested, click on this link. What we are trying to say is this : even in economy class, there can be differentiated booking levels that determine how much miles you earn, or do not!

Some though point out that this time IT IS DIFFERENT, for “Basic Economy” is where we quote “gets rid of seat assignments and elite-qualifying miles, forbids paid upgrades and flight changes, and bans overhead carry-on bags“. You are said to only know where you sit when you check in. Perhaps you might end up in the cockpit in the spare third seat behind the pilot. Beats sitting on the wing any day!

Perhaps it’s time to give a better name to the different classes of flying. Some random thoughts,

First class Airline royalty? Hmmm.. or perhaps
Business class La Dolce Vita (or the ‘entitled class’?)
Premium Economy Plebian wannabes
(5354 in the Singaporean context)
Economy Cattle class (yeah we have little imagination)
Basic Economy Les Miserables?

Perhaps someday this boarding announcement will be heard:

We are pleased to invite your majesties to saunter aboard our aircraft.  Passengers enjoying La dolce vita may follow behind our airline royals at your own convenience. You will both have a special lane, where you can wave to the plebian wannabes who are waiting while we prepare to herd the cattle in. And les miserables you will be called as soon as we can depart. Rest assured we’ll find you a middle seat, because that’s all we’ll have left. Thank you for flying with snobbish airlines, a member of arrogant alliance“.

Do you have suggestions on the names of the travel classes? If so, will you share them?

Do luxury toting folks get better service?

Do you sometimes feel that you get treated better if you dressed well? Or when you tote luxury bags and watches, spot expensive jewellery? There seems to be some finding that verify to some extent that this is all well true.

This experiment tested the “attribution effect”. Ok, social psychologists out there will definitely be correcting us. It’s officially coined as “fundamental attribution error“. Will be first to admit that Mel cannot recall this from his days doing that one semestral course on social psychology…Besides it was more than 20++ years ago. So be gentle…

simple-luxury
Brand names seem to matter

Now we are not sure if a mere $4000 watch will get you a hit, but the examples that Matt referred to certainly happened to us. Well, at least to one half of us – ie Suan. You see, she makes a point to dress well AND put on a dash of jewellery (and luxury watch) but that is not in your face. She has had her fair share of being treated “differently” at restaurants, boutiques, even the local supermarket. Getting warmer huh?

Bvlgari boutique2
Retailers are keen to keep this up!

It all seems as if this cheap way of impressing actually works. Or perhaps it is the confidence that one exudes when you wear a watch that costs someone’s monthly wage? You see the article is right in quite many ways. When you are traveling, nobody can fathom that you live in a palatial mansion or drive a Porsche for leisure. And today a wallet full of banknotes is not likely to impress a lot either, unless you face is on it. Well, it depends on who.

So it boils down to other symbols that our pyschological state use to “size up” other folks. And none other is more obvious that the visual cues that exude from watches, jewellery and finally the clothes and shoes you wear. Surething, some of us laugh off such behavior perhaps as being crass, materialistic etc. But somehow we get the feeling that this is far more pervasive than we care to admit.

Of course demeanour plays a critical role too. Which service person would like a sour faced customer? I guess if you play nice, others mostly will too.

We shall not care what the article revealed about the 1%, since we are unlikely to ever rub shoulders with them in any shape, size or form. However we emphasize that the global luxury brands are keen to keep this game going. Just pick out a watch magazine at the bookstore near you. Will you be able to tease out the “levels” of prestige?

There you have it. Empirical evidence that you are what you wear. Perhaps this is confirmation bias but there we have a lot of personal experiences about this too. Perhaps try it out at the Eleven James (or equivalent) near you and let us know about it!

High class Jetiquette

This was inspired by Anne’s post at her blog : Food travel Tour. By the way, Anne’s post is super! Read all about her experience flying private jet. Fascinating and wish we have the opportunity for the same…some day!

No selfies, overly flashy clothing but perhaps white gloves and large sunglasses. Definitely don’t wear slippers or tracksuits and please, pray please DO NOT put on so much perfume that you chloroform fellow passengers or even the pilot. Especially not the pilot. Your life depends on him or her. These are just some of the Dos and Don’ts of flying private jet.

Also, don’t bring too many carry-ons with you. It clutters the plane, and mysterious wealthy people do not carry all their belongings everywhere, least of all to a private jet. Actually we don’t understand the thing about the large sunglass. Does it really make you look that much more mysterious?

Because this is all so intriguing, we got into googling the web to find out the following:

  • It can cost anything between US$2,000 – $15,000 per hour depending on the size and configuration of the jet being chartered. Sure the noisier turboprops are cheaper, but who wants to shout to talk? The Smallest jet such as the gulfstream can only seat 3-4 passengers…This was something we took out of a US-based company’s website.
  • Chaperone services bring you through immigration and customs faster. For sure, why would you pay so much?
  • You can book online and pay with your credit card (especially if you have a Centurion card) for each trip/sector. Acting rich and cool is so easy, pay with your visa wave…

There are charter services operating out of Singapore too (of course!) but they do not provide a tariff table. Just like home renovators here, they probably ask if you lived in a condo or in a government flat before quoting…

Private Jet costs
Example of a tariff table – all US$ and good as of end 2016

A new idea for future corporate team building is seeded!  Wonder if we have to tip the pilot. Does anyone else have private jet experiences to share?

Airline food, the gorgeous only

It was only in the last couple of years that we started taking photos of the airline food that were served to us. Inspired by Nik Loukas and this post on the Daily Mail, we are compiling our own slideshow of gorgeous airline food.

And because we are such nice folks, only beautiful meals will be shared with you. Why? Because we want to make you envious…

Seriously. We all have our share of bad airline food. Do we really need to be reminded? So here’s a sampling of SIA’s culinary offer for those who are humbly privileged to fly business on them regularly:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lest you think it’s all good, we’ll let you in a little secret. The food you are having onboard are probably saltier, have more pepper added to it and have a lot more aromatic spices than you would normally use when back on earth. We have read several articles on how flying “dumbs down” our sense of taste.

There is the drier air which reduces moisture in your palette while the noise is said to dampen receptiveness to sweet taste. Bitter tastes become accentuated, thus the beer is kinda funny…Hence the need to compensate. Don’t quote us, ask the chef!

Nonetheless, these innovative chefs have designed meals that seem to ‘hit the sweet spot’ as the saying goes.

And sometimes you can get some cute meals too. Such as the one we had while flying premium economy on EVA airlines from Taipei back to Singapore:

EVA TPE-SIN 1
Hello Kitty peanuts anyone?
EVA TPE-SIN 2
How can Mel ask Suan to use the utentils?