Fares are going up. Dramatically. Someone has to pay for all these cheap fares as the headlong rush to the bottom continues apace.
Out of interest, I made a point of comparing fares for this year and last year, trying to get as close to the equivalent fare as possible. The results make rather depressing reading for those who frequent the business end of the aircraft or who have to travel at certain times, no matter what. Comparing fares, year on year, is a bit of a minefield given the numerous fares available but what I do, is to take a couple of scenarios that match and compare what is available, fare-wise. Not the most scientific analysis but practical.
Firstly, let's consider London Heathrow to New York, JFK. Here I worked across a number of major airlines servicing this route. Last year, the best economy return fare that one could hope for, was £468 (all fares exclude tax) and this year, £140. Great. BUT Premium Economy (in its various guises, depending on airline) had risen from £2,071 to £2,900 and business class had risen from £4,936 to £5,751 - a rise of some £815.
Next, let's consider Singapore. Again, the best fare available in economy had fallen from £320 to £141.00 yet here again, though Premium had actually remained unchanged at £2,355, business class has increased from £6,005 to £6,665.
Even Europe does not escape the increases, though more modest in nature. A return to Frankfurt, last year could be had for £147 and that will now cost you £161. A flexible return has risen from £346 to £368.
There is, of course, a certain logic behind these increases. Most who travel in business class, long haul, are not funding their ticket from their own pocket - or are high net-worth types who generally, live in a world different to ours. Both types of traveler know that to cross the pond or fly to somewhere like Singapore, will cost about £5,000 £6,000 or even £7,000 - what the actual figure is, may well only earn a passing glance or at best, a raised eyebrow. Most firms have a tendency to focus on the smaller fry in their organisation rather than considering the spend of their very senior officers. This may because it is easier to make a mark, dealing with the small fry and travel managers often do not have enough senior clout to deal with the higher levels.
That airlines take advantage of this, is really rather reprehensible. Those travelling in business class (or those that have to travel at a specific time, even in the Coach cabin) are earning money for that nations' economy. That they should incur a further charge for doing so, is simply not right, when the sole purpose of those fare increases is to fund a growing number of what boils down to, ecologically unsound passengers. An airport full of people paying £3,000 a go, is a success. An airport full of people paying £30 a go, is an ecological disaster area.
Many true fares are being masked by a growing number of offer fares. Some are practical to use for business travel purposes but most are not. The time is rapidly approaching when airlines need to decided what people can pay for; most pay more because they need a fare that allows them to do what they need to do, when they need to do it. That they get a posh seat, a meal or an extra hold bag, is neither here not there, but it does highlight where airline marketing is going astray. The focus may need to shift from who has the best lounge to who will let you do the most, for less.