Jet Airways is one of India’s two major international carriers. The other, Air India, usually gets a bad reputation for their sub-par business class on their 777s. I had a chance to fly them on their 787s and was pleasantly surprised. Although Air India’s 787 are good, Jet Airways has always been known as being more on-par with international standing products. They were one of the first airlines to offer herringbone lie flat seats, similar to the ones on Virgin Atlantic, and fully enclosed suites. Well, economic circumstances have pushed the airline to change its tactics. They have not upgraded their inflight hard product in a about 10 years on their 777s, although they have since introduced Vantage XL seats in their A330s. With plans to finally retrofit their 777s, it seems Jet Airways will be eliminating First Class.
Fare Thee Well First Class
I had a chance to try out Jet Airways’ hard product First Class back when they were still leasing their 777s to Etihad. Since then, the airline has received the aircraft back, and has not been able to sell First class. In order to make the airline more profitable, they plan on going form 346 seats in their 777s to around 400. The way they plan on doing this, probably, is by axing First class, and adding their Vantage XL business class. The airline already has a high density economy configuration, so this will probably stay the same. They may add rows, but that’s probably it.
This has been an increasing trend with airlines now a days. As more airlines offer solid business class products, the differentiation between First and Business is starting to blur. Some airlines, such as Qatar Airways, offer a business class superior to other airlines’ (such as American’s) First Class. As we have seen in the US, with American limiting itself to First only on their 777-300s, and United eliminating First Class all together, the trend is picking up speed. This makes a lot of financial sense, since not that many people are willing to dish out the extra money between business and first. Since the difference is so substantial, it’s better to get more of less money from business class, than no money from First.
I am sad to see what was once an industry leading product go away. By all standards, the cabin is still very much in style, and still superior to other airlines. I would rather fly Jet Airways First class over Air India, any day. Over the next decade, we may see the disappearance of first class in most routes except a select few niche routes. In any case, where First Class remains, it is becoming less seats and far more extravagant. The best example is Emirates new 777 First class. They went from 8 seats to 6, and knocked it out of the park with extravagance. Either way, first class has always been a niche, and its niche is starting to grow smaller and smaller.
What do you think? What’s your opinion on Jet Airways’ decision to get rid of First Class? Will Air India follow suit? Let us know!
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H/T: Live from a Lounge
Images from the Author or Wikimedia.