Opinion by Ibrahim Hakki Guntay, general manager, western and southern India for Turkish Airlines
Over the years, innumerable leaps in technology have resulted in the creation of airplanes that fly higher, faster and longer. Better mechanisms are now being used to ensure that travel is safer and even more cost-efficient. This constant endeavour to build better airplanes on the outside has also trickled inwards – to the passenger cabin – giving rise to a class of passengers that are even more discerning and particular about their ‘experience’ when they fly.
A subset amongst these travellers are those who travel business class. They expect a range of luxury amenities and special care onboard that commensurate the airline charges.
Open for all
Looking at the trends and popularity, I feel that business class travel has become aspirational for passengers who travel economy and airlines are keen to promote this through various frequent flyer programmes like Miles&Smiles, which is why the average airline passenger today is conscious about the miles and loyalty points they receive.
Airline executives around the globe have realised that these passengers are not only important from a financial standpoint, but also from a value standpoint. As a result, airlines across the globe compete with each other in terms of investing and curating world-class experiences for passengers. Services like Miniport, which is a luggage transfer service from city centre to airport offered by Turkish Airlines along with exclusive airport tranfers by a personal chauffeur are some ways through which airlines are going the extra mile to make your trip into a most pleasurable experience.
Personalisation is key
The business class experience is about much more than legroom today. Flat beds, fluffy cotton pillows, seven-course meals, extra comfortable seats, designer night-wear and luxurious vanity kits, these are a few elements that have become the basic necessities of business class travel in recent times. With corporate travel picking up, airlines are now going a step ahead to offer personalised services and pamper business class customers with a lounge, a shower, a bed to rest and probably a bar present within the inflexible boundaries of an aircraft fuselage.
So, what amongst these services define the ideal business class experience today? In my opinion, it is the experience of refinement and comfort created with lie-flat beds, a multi-course menu by celebrity chefs, and luxury amenity kits during flight.
When it comes to food and catering, gourmet cuisine has long been a staple for business class menus. Bringing chefs or ‘Flying Chefs’, onboard to serve up a fine-dining experience in the sky is another curated experience that select airlines are now offering to passengers.
Business travel and its changing dynamics
It would be fair to say that the current norms and standards of business travel are not in any way definitive. The constant change of trends and preferences are sure to bring about another iteration of business class travel in the very near future.
Advancements in gastronomic technology will continue to expand the long list of choices that passengers prefer as a meal in the sky. New updates in virtual reality may also become a norm of inflight entertainment given the need for constant new recreational facilities. The possibilities are endless and the potential exists – it is now up to airlines to take the first bold step towards the future.
For me, business class service, through the value it provides, will prove to be one of the key differentiators that will define the success and failure of airlines in the coming years.
At the new Istanbul Airport
The new Istanbul Airport, which is set to be the world’s meeting point, has brought some novelties in terms of high-end services available in a brand-new environment. As an example, a selection of works of art from the famous Istanbul Modern Museum awaits passengers in a special gallery at the Turkish Airlines’ business lounge.