When you’re in an aisle seat you direct your own destiny. You get up to use the lavatory whenever you wish and don’t need to worry about waiting on other passengers to gather their belongings to let you out, or your seatmates falling asleep and needing to be woken to let you out. I find window seats claustrophobic.
It turns out that the preference for an aisle seat over a window seat also means you’re a better customer of an airline’s loyalty program, based on data.
AsiaMiles CEO Paul Smitton told an interesting story on the Let’s Talk Loyalty podcast last month. His program now has 12 million members and on average people save miles for two years before redeeming.
Smitton has worked at a number of airlines, beginning at Air New Zealand where he was hired as a trainee of out of school. He told the story about launching the Air New Zealand loyalty program based on Continental Onepass in six weeks – without IT, branding or customer service staff – immediately out of the trainee program, because Air New Zealand had heard Qantas was about to do the same.
But what struck me was his story about “one airline where [he] worked” (which might be Qantas or Virgin Atlantic) where they’d found that aisle versus window preference predicts the value of a customer. Asking a member’s interests, including seating preference, told them straight away what their lifetime value would look like.
It actually makes sense the more you think about it. It’s not foolproof, there are exceptions, but as a general matter:
- Aisle seat preference is a business traveler, who also likes to sit at the front of the plane and get off plane quickly.
- Window seat preference is a leisure traveler.
It’s nice to gaze out the window but you can do that in a new video game. When you fly it’s aisle all the way.