Airlines have many reasons to want to win over business travelers. Business travel accounts for around 30 percent of all airline travel. What's more, business travelers often travel using higher tier tickets than leisure travelers or people traveling for personal reasons. Legacy carriers like American, Delta and United have all carved their business models around courting highly coveted business travelers. They've done this through offering big perks for people who travel frequently and creating cabins and lounges that are conducive to getting work done while flying. Legacy carriers also utilize partnerships with credit cards and various companies to foster loyalty among business travelers.
It has long been believed that budget carriers didn't have much to offer business travelers. What's more, most budget airlines have never really tried to lure the business crowd over to their brands. That's all changing. The mainstream acceptance of budget carriers is opening up new possibilities when it comes to business travel. Many of the big players in the low-cost game are setting their sights on business travelers. Of course, those carries may need to make a few changes before business travelers are ready to fully embrace low-cost tickets and no-frills experiences.
Why the Time Is Right for Budget Airlines to Embrace Business Travelers
The climate is perfect for budget airlines to make their moves and try to court business travelers. Most companies around the world would ideally like to spend less on business travel. Technology is making it possible for people to stay connected and communicate on a virtual level from all over the world. This is making it more difficult for some companies to justify sending their employees all over the world for meetings. Paying top-tier fares to fly using legacy carriers just doesn't make sense the way that it used to. However, the availability of low-cost tickets makes it slightly easier to justify paying for business travel.
How Budget Airlines Are Trying to Attract Business Travelers
Budget airlines know they have to make some changes if they want to appeal to choosy business travelers. However, the allure of low-cost tickets should not be underestimated. The reality is that a certain portion of business travelers will always prefer to fly in top-tier cabins using legacy carriers. Budget carriers need to instead focus on courting those who can be courted. This means throwing in some simple perks while still offering fares that are much lower than what legacy carriers are offering. The most common way that airlines are hoping to achieve their goals is by simply adding more premium seats to popular business routes.
Norwegian Air is one of the airlines leading the way when it comes to offering more options for business travelers. The airline will do this by adding more premium seats to its existing aircraft in the hopes of showing business travelers that they can enjoy luxury on a budget. Norwegian currently has plans in place to add more premium seats to its Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. Canada's WestJet is also eyeing business travelers. The airline has already added 24 new premium-plus seats to the Boeing 767 aircraft it uses for long-haul flights. Primera Air is currently working on plans to add 16 premium seats for passengers on flights between London and New York. WOW air has designed its new Airbus SE A330neo aircraft to feature 42 premium economy seats.