eirtraveller – I agree that when one has earned a status in a FFP it can be irritating when others get there “on the house”. However, it can be a good way for an airline to attract new or lapsed business. There is of couse the risk of diluting the exclusivity by opening that particular door too open.
There is one benefit of charging for everything: it gives pax a choice. There are those who just want to hop on the plane and go from A to B. Others like to have a snack, drink or check in a bag.
On EI you can select a seat in the front rows (10euro), have a hot breakfast (9euro) and even lounge access (20euro). In essence the majority of the old business class benefits can be had for a reasonable price…it you want them.
Row 1 is my personal favourite as there is a massive space beween the seat and bulkhead (NTarrant might like this!).