Business trips used to be easy enough to arrange, but business travellers may soon have to deal with a wide array of add-ons and different types of fares due to low-cost airlines’ desire for ancillary revenue.
Ancillary revenue comes on top of the fee for the original booking, with travellers reeled in by low headline prices and then tempted by extra-cost items, including baggage, frequent flyer miles, meals and seat selection.
Now, even full-service airlines are beginning to slice up the market to gain more profits from passengers, though the good news for the latter is that it could also result in much cheaper fares, even in business class.
One example of this is the “Special” business class fares offered by Emirates, the top airline in the United Arab Emirates.
These fares pare back some of the core features of business class, such as chauffeur-driven travel to and from the airport and lounge access.
Premium economy has not yet been introduced by Emirates, though it is likely to materialise next year.
There can be significant savings for travellers, with “Special” business class fares being offered by Emirates between Dubai and Paris for certain dates early next year – these are being listed at Dh7,350, which amounts to a drop in price of 17% compared to the Saver business class ticket and nearly a third off the cost of the mid-range Flex fares.
Emirates’ chief commercial officer Adnan Kazim says that the company understands that passengers often have different priorities in regard to their travels, and that the special fares offer customers a large array of fare brands that come with one-of-a-kind propositions suited to their own particular requirements and that offer them a greater range of options.
Travellers who choose to use the unbundled approach to business class being offered by Emirates would be giving up the free VIP chauffeur-driven ride to and from the airport that has been a calling card of the airline’s business class, though it may be less important for firms that already have arrangements with such firms and in a time when ride-sharing services such as Grab, Lyft and Uber are becoming increasingly prevalent.
The special fares will not include access to Emirates business class lounges, although those travellers who hold Platinum or top-tier Gold status in the airline’s frequent flyer scheme will still be able to get in just by presenting their Skywards card, no matter what kind of ticket they have, and paying $100 will also permit access.
Frequent flyer miles will also be reduced, with business class travellers using the Special scheme only to get the same number of flyer miles as those who pay the top economy fares.
There will be no chance for travellers to upgrade to the airline’s first class seats with the use of Skywards Miles, and no early selection of seats.
However, Emirates says that many business travellers will find it a very appealing trade-off, with the scheme being well used by travellers in Europe and West Asia as well as across the Middle East and Gulf region.