Re: Business-only flights (was: UAL Viscounts?)

Date:         17 Oct 99 23:29:43 
From:         kls@ohare.Chicago.COM (Karl Swartz)
Organization: Chicago Software Works, Menlo Park, California
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>Times certainly have changed in that respect but I'm interested to note
>that the idea of first-class-only (well, actually business-class-only)
>flights seems to have reappeared ... The solution
>that was being mooted was business-class only flights, departing at
>better times (and more frequently??), leaving the cheapskates (c'est
>moi) not just in the back of the plane but actually still in the
>departure lounge!

The obvious example of this is Concorde.

There have been a few examples of carriers which only offer a premium
class of service, usually with dismal results.  MGM Grand Air comes to
mind.  They operated F-only DC-8s on the JFK-LAX routes for a few years
before giving up.  (They also had some 727s in a similar config, but I
think they only flew charter work.)

Midwest Express is a notable exception, offering solely business class
on the fleet of DC-9s (including a few MD-80s).  They don't charge a
premium over the full-fare Y of the majors, which no doubt is part of
their success.

United has had something a bit closer to what you're describing in terms
of better schedules within a large carrier, though still with a mix of
cabins.  Seven of their 747-400s have a 36/123/142 (301 seats) instead
of the 18/80/320 (418 seats) that had been standard on the rest of the
fleet.  In addition to JFK-NRT, which has high demand for premium seats,
these aircraft were used on ORD-NRT when it was restricted to 6x weekly,
and on ORD-HKG when it operated 3x weekly.  The relatively few Y seats
mostly went for full fare, so for the most part you had to pay a lot to
fly non-stop.  The cheapskates got to stop at SFO or LAX.

Last I looked they were still flying ORD-NRT, amongst other routes, but
they'll be converted to be like the rest of the fleet this winter, with
the new 18/84/270 (372 seats) config.  With the sligtly larger number of
premium seats in the new config, combined with ORD-NRT going to 2x daily
and ORD-HKG going to daily, there are now enough premium seats available
on the non-stops to satisfy demand without the hassle of a separate

Proposals for the 777-200X and really long range uses of the A340-500,
on routes such as SIN-LAX, are planned for similarly skewed configs with
the cheapskates getting to stop somewhere.

Karl Swartz	|Home
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