Conventional wisdom is that international first class is a thing of the past. A dinosaur.
- The better business classes today are better than what first used to be. Here are the world’s best business class products.
- There’s a very narrow market that will pay for greater privacy and service, that isn’t paying to fly private.
Back in October I explained the reasons that international first class is disappearing.
And yet the data actually suggests there’s more first class than ever before, naturally led by he Middle Eastern mega-carriers.
One of the big data points used to suggest that first class isn’t a broadly sustainable product is the way that British Airways has de-emphasized it. BA is one of the world carrier’s most dependent on premium cabin travel, and when they’re eliminating first class from a variety of routes that’s a strong indictment of its economics.
British Airways had decided not to convert some of its final remaining old-style 747s to offer their new first class, and they stopped selling first on their London – Vancouver, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Capetown flights.
Buried in my post about amazing non-stop first class award availability between the West Coast and Europe was the news that British Airways had reversed course.
They’re converting those final 747s after all and that means returning first class to those routes — Vancouver at the end of March, and the other cities at the end of October.
That doesn’t change the underlying dynamics of international first class. Lufthansa is still reducing the routes on which they offer the service. US carriers are in the process of eliminating it almost entirely (American will offer it on Boeing 777-300ER routes only, United can’t wait to be rid of it, and Delta no longer offers it).
British Airways, Lufthansa, Swiss, Emirates, Etihad, Singapore, Cathay, JAL, Air France, Korean and Thai are the primary operators who appear squarely behind first class as an ongoing part of their product mix. There are others, too, like Asiana and ANA on limited routes and like Air China that offer the product.
It’s not something every carrier sees as a core offering. But it’s great to see British Airways fully committed, fuel surcharges and all.