How rich people travel: luxury makes a comeback in aviation

After decades of growth of the economy class, now it's luxury all over again



13 May 2014

A recent trend of luxury companies is the increasing competition seen in the fast developing private-jet industry. Companies such as Abercrombie & Kent, National Geographic and Smithsonian Journeys have started launching private-jet tours to exotic locations around the world. Four Seasons executive vice president for marketing, Susan Helstab, believes the wealthy are spending their money on travel because, "They're looking for the kind of experiences that they haven't had before, things that are memorable, things that are really considered to be one of a kind." By entering into the luxury travel air industry, airline companies are hoping to transform their brand image and create a new high net worth clientele.

Etihad Airways has introduced a new luxury living space for its A380 aircraft. The company recently announced the brand new luxury interiors of their A380 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircrafts. Branded as The Residence by Etihad, the private cabins accommodate two people and are described as "the world's most luxurious living space in the air."

5The new luxury living space on the A380 and Dreamliner 787 aircrafts include a living room, double bedroom, ensuite shower room and a personal butler. In addition, the A380 features the First Apartments. These private suites offer a reclining lounge seat, full length bed, chilled mini-bar and personal vanity unit. Both aircraft models will also have a Business Studio and Economy Smart Seat.


The Residence by Etihad living spaces are priced from $20,000 one way between Abu Dhabi and London. These will be targeted at private jet customers. Etihad Airways' president and CEO, James Hogan, explains "We wanted to create the perfect flight...These new living spaces will raise inflight product and service standards to their highest level yet in commercial aviation and alter air travellers' expectations of inflight comfort and luxury forever." The new features were designed by a collaboration between the Etihad Design Consortium (EDC) and the Promise Communispace agency.

9Luxury resort company, Four Seasons, recently announced the company's entrance into the luxury travel industry. The Toronto-based company plans to launch its first Four Seasons-branded private jet. Its own Boeing 757 will carry passengers to Four Seasons resorts around the world on tours costing $100,000 per person. Executive vice president for marketing, Susan Helstab, says "Taking our legendary service to the skies is a natural extension of what we've been doing in our hotels for more than 50 years. We have gone to great lengths to create what feels more like a residential environment than an aviation environment."

10With the new Four Seasons jet, the company only offers rides for 52 privileged guests. This low number stands in contrast with the 200 passengers that Boeing 757s typically carry. The company also includes an airborne version of the "Four Seasons Sleep experience," named by the company for the replication of hotel beds aboard the flight.

American airline company, Jet Blue, also plans to compete in the cabin caste system. Starting this June, flights between J.F.K. and LAX will feature first-class amenities, including beds and tapas.

A new helicopter service, EvoLux Transportation, offers on-call private flights from a selection of operators. The program will launch in New York and Miami this May, with additional American cities added in the fall. FlyJets is another option for the wealthy who are willing to bid on private jet routes immediately.

2Airline company, Air France, has recently introduced its "La Premiere Suites," a $75 million investment. The carrier has increased its luxury services in an effort to win over Asia's rising number of first-class flyers. Head of Air France's passenger business, Bruno Matheu, says the $13,499 tickets will "generate more revenue than if we filled that space with economy or business-class seats." The initiative will start in September on board 19 of Air France's Boeing 777-300 fleet.



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