Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Distinction, Class Distinction

I travel with Emirates Airlines because they provide direct services to most places and their service is better than most.

Achieving Silver Status on Skywards or any other airline is a great deal for me, I get to use the lounge.

Emirates Airlines is a classy airline except when it gets to its lounges. They have one for First Class, Business Class and Silver Skywards members, and they do not mix. In Hamburg Silver Members are not allowed to use the lounge. In Dubai is the same, one has to walk for almost 15 minutes either way to get to the Silver Skywards lounge which is in Terminal 1.

I am not a populist, but really Emirates Airlines, are we so bad we are not allowed to mix with your darlings. I know the answer would be no space, but then why did you build Terminal 3 which was too small the day it opened.

No matter what the excuse, I feel like I am discriminated against.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The WOW Factor

A few days back I was asked off the record why do Etihad, Emirates and Qatar Airways always place in the top ten or top five rankings of travel and airline surveys.

Well, the cynical answer is their PR departments wine and dine magazine editors and journalists to write good things about them. Maybe.... but I don't think so.

To start with these are heavily branded airlines associated with football clubs, F1 racing, Tennis tournaments and other high profile cultural and sport activities. Most importantly they have what I like to call the WOW Factor;

1. New aircraft with brand new leading edge technology interiors
2. IFE systems so loaded with movies, music and games that time flies by.
3. Good point to point routes both short and especially long range that minimises multi stops
with their associated hassles of airports and airport security.
4. Good food and good service usually with a smile, consistent and enjoyable. I am not saying
they do not make mistakes but on the whole they are good.
5. And last but not least a serious commitment from the top down towards passenger service.

Not many legacy airlines can claim all the above attributes, the European carriers are starting to fray at the edges and the US carriers are so obsessed with security in the cabin that flying with some feels like being in a classroom, so uptight they sometimes forget to smile. There are the exceptional fun airlines but then most are not all Legacy Airlines.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Fitting In

Have you ever been to a place and felt as if you belonged regardless of the setting Growing up in Jordan, and I suppose the Levant in general, where the culture is entwined and influenced by all these powers that passed through the region.

Two such cultures, having their roots in the same place, what was ancient Greece, are the Ottoman and Byzantine. They both occupy the area which was ancient Greece, the same culture the Arabs built on their advances and discoveries in Mathematics, Medicine, Social Sciences, etc..

I have visited both Greece and Turkey, and notwithstanding the settings, the language and to some extent religion, I felt that sense of familiarity and fitting in at both places. It may have been the similarity in customs, food, music and ancient ruins, it is hard to describe or pinpoint.

Both empires were viewed by Arabs as occupying powers whose aim was to assimilate the region within their respective spheres of influence. Yet, these three cultures (Arab, Byzantine and Ottoman) have interacted, merged and influenced each other for millennia. That the net result of that evolution is etched in our collective memory.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ancillary Revenues ... Revisited

This morning I read an HBR Daily Status entitled 'Shipping Your Luggage Can Save Money'

'Nearly $260 in savings. If you're traveling with heavy luggage, sending your
stuff via a shipping carrier can save you a lot, according to On
at least one airline, a heavy, oversized bag can run you nearly $300 if you check
it on a domestic flight, but shipping might cost only $40, depending on carrier and
route. Other advantages: Better tracking and less schlepping,

Well SWA declared that it has made more money attracting passengers than if they charged for carriage of baggage, a great value proposition.

But I digress, if people like FedEx, UPS and others can ship luggage cheaper and deliver on time while providing us with the means of tracking the luggage at every step of the way and I bet they will pick up from our place of residence or work. This is a new twist on an old business.

Sure, we might all be sceptical now, but at the rate airlines are raising their fees to carry bags, I am sure passengers will seriously look at alternatives (either you switch to a carrier that does not charge or ship at a much lower cost).

Knowing legacy airlines they will milk this source of revenue dry and when they discover what happened, they will feel the pinch of a couple of hundred million dollars, that are no more, and there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Far fetched, I don't know, but a few years back who ever dreamt of a bag fee.


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