Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

Winston Aldworth: Grim news from the front of the airplane

Air New Zealand Business Class seats. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Air New Zealand Business Class seats. Photo / Brett Phibbs

This week, I bring you terrible news, dear readers. You'd better all be sitting down before you read on.

Brace yourselves: Aviation experts are tipping the end of First Class.

"Business-wise, [First Class] makes no sense," says Christoph Bruetzel, a party-pooping industry expert at the IUBH School of Business and Management in Germany.

Dream-shatterer Bruetzel says revenues from First Class haven't kept up with the cost of providing such high-end services. It's a lesson Air New Zealand learned long ago, ditching First Class and making Business their top product.

But kia kaha, people. We will survive.

What we know of as Business Class today, is pretty much First Class from 20 years ago, Premium Economy is what Business Class used to be, and longhaul Economy today - well - it's the equivalent of rowing the boat aboard a Roman galley.

There are two very good reasons that many of the biggest carriers in the world will continue to offer full First Class service. Carrying the cost of the high-end seats makes it clear to all other passengers - and to the rest of the travel industry - that your airline is a seriously prestigious operation. It's a huge marketing tool.

Secondly, loyalty programmes are a key part of any airline's business profile, and it helps to be able to bump up regular customers.

Mr Bruetzel, I say to you, sir: You may take my liberty, but you will never take my Dom Perignon Rose Vintage 2003.

- NZ Herald

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Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

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