Sometimes, you do have to check your calendar, just to make sure that it is not the 1st of April.
Perhaps, after going to bed last night, there was an invasion of Earth by an overcrowded shuttle-ship of (mainly) small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri, due to their shuttle pilot overdoing the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters the night before, turning the wrong way at the Horesehead Nebular and accidentaly landing on our small blue-green planet at this rather unfashionable end of the Galaxy, which resulted in random people falling asleep for a very long time, due to the effect that Argrolian MegaDrives can have on some life-forms who rely on Oxygen-based atmospheres. (Thank you, Douglas Adams)
Such it was this morning, when I stumbled across the write up for Air France's new airline called June ... sorry, "Joon". This is a new airline which can only be summarised as being the apotheosis of marketing people's dreams; complete with ultra-trendy flight attendants, right down to their blue and white sneakers. This is the airline for millenials, whose " ....lifestyles revolve around digital technology".
Yes! It is the airline for the generation that does not use the semi-colon and has replaced "Dear Mr. ... (or Mrs or Miss or Ms) " with "Hi, Guys!". This is to be achieved by having an "innovative and off-beat" airline experience, whatever that means. You don't board these aircraft, you enter a fixed-space transitory environment.
Oh! And apparently, if you are over 40, you may still be allowed on board. Just.
Air France have introduced an airline that takes advantage of their lower staff cost arrangements, to breathe new life into their medium haul routes where they have the most competition; stealing a march on others by introducing a new approach. Not really a low cost offshoot, though buy-on-board facilities are promised. The airline will have six A321-200s at the start, growing to eleven by summer 2018. In summer 2018, things go long-haul with three or four A340-300s. Thereafter, the first A350s are to arrive in winter 2019. By summer 2021, the mix is expected to include six A320s, twelve A321s, and ten A350s. Quite a selection, even if wet-leased, for a new airline.
Joon targets 70% of Air France's loss-making long-haul routes, with the remaining 30% to be built on newly developed destinations.
The idea is innovative though one struggles a little to understand how an airline can be all-encompassing "millenial" in its style and operation - just because people are millenials, does not mean that all have cellphones surgically attached to their arms or for that matter, wish to be addressed in terms of assumed familiarity. Full marks to Air France for trying, though and the whole style and outlook is nothing if not to be commended.
We could modify the song: "Hey Joon/ don't make it bad/ Take a legacy airline/ And make it better ..."
One worries, however, just a little, about funning-down (or up, according to preference) the whole flying experience. If something goes pear shaped, either on the ground or at 32,000 feet, a re-assuring formality in aircrew of all on-board occupations, helps calm nerves and increase passenger confidence.
That said, we must also remember that at the end of the day, if a client is at point A and needs to be at point B and a flight achieves this at the time best suited to their needs, then that is the flight that the client would wish to take. Certainly, in the business travel world where travel schedules still have to meet meeting schedules (How many corporates would save a fortune by changing that around?) that is still the main criteria.
As yet, I have never had to ask a client: "Are you a millenial?" before hitting the End-and-Retrieve button.