LONDON – KLM, the Dutch national flag carrier, has anticipated in a press release that the airline is set to launch a brand-new World Business Class product on its flagship 777s.
Furthermore, the airline announced introducing sliding doors creating a more private and intimate experience for the Dutch carriers’ guests. KLM will officially be the latest addition to the airline club that opts for a hybrid first-business class product.
The new hard product on board the Dutch vessels will add double the privacy, as the airline is moving from the current 2-2-2 layout and will replace it with a 1-2-1 configuration.
In addition, each seat in the new cabin will offer aisle access and a sliding door.
Dutch Aviation Outlets reports that KLM’s new World Business Class cabin will align with the airlines Boeing 787s, which are already configured in a current 1-2-1 configuration.
Boet Kreiken, director of Customer Experience at KLM, says “The seats will also be slightly wider than those on 787 Dreamliner,”
Although KLM has remained somewhat vague about the new product, the airline announced that customers would be able to enjoy the new product as early as May 2022 on selected routes.
Currently, it’s unclear to the general public what design the Dutch airlines has selected for its newly refreshed business class product. However, the novelty doesn’t end here.
The Sky Team member has also announced the launch of a brand-new cabin that has never been available on KLM aircraft before; Premium Economy or, better off, Premium Comfort, as KLM has branded it.
The name, which is not typical of a premium economy product, was coined to differentiate from the current version of KLM’s premium economy called ‘Economy Comfort’. Essentially seats with extra legroom and a fluffier pillow.
Premium Comfort is also set to be revealed in May 2022 and will be rolled out across the 777 and 787 fleets in the coming months.
KLM, which historically has always had close ties with American Carrier, Delta Airlines, has shown strong interest in business class ‘suites’ since the American
The airline introduced them in their ‘ONE’ product in 2017.
What about the first class?
More and more airlines have opted for a hybrid business class product that incorporates first-class elements. This is because passengers love it and so do airlines’ profit margins.
Airlines such as ANA, Air China, British Airways, China Airlines, China Eastern, Etihad Airways, JetBlue, and Qatar Airways are just a few who are changing how Business Class is perceived.
Others who have historically offered First Class products or above (see Singapore’s A380 suites, which have both seat and a bed) are on the tipping point of introducing an enhanced business class product in the coming years. These airlines are American, United Airlines, and Cathay Pacific.
And lastly, there is one final middle approach which is the one adopted by Air New Zealand, which has created a sliding door product; however, unlike most airlines, it has branded it as Business Plus.
Is first class a dying breed?
Many analysts predict that first-class could disappear altogether within a decade. For example, British Airways, the British flag carrier, offered 508,000 first-class seats in 2008.
However, as of 2018, the number of available first-class eats dropped by 18%, around 400000 fewer seats per year. Some speculate the end of fist-class is due to Covid; others blame external circumstances such as fuel costs.
Whilst industry analysts say this was a self-fulfilling prophecy created by the industry. As airlines become more competitive to attract business customers from other airlines, the gap between First and Business class has continually become more narrow.
Thus Hardly justifying the cost differences between the two types.
So the options are two, either first class disappears as analysts predict, or it evolves in a similar direction as Singapore Suites or Etihad residence that offers a home in the sky to those seeking extreme luxury without the price tag of a private jet.