There was a time when air travel was a luxury, now the air traveler is as commonplace as cup of coffee. Airlines once wooed air travelers with elaborate meals and spit clean hostesses who wore long armed gloves since the profile of the early air traveler was one who had the riches to afford the excursion.
Gone are those days and gone are the luxury amenities and air traveler. Peanuts and crackers, Mam? What would you like to drink, sir? That will be five dollars for a gin and tonic. There are few elaborate meal services, even those who travel first class. There are few air travelers who even remember the gloved attendants, with the shapely body, of years past.
Air travelers may not know or even care about those old amenities. Take a look at the success of Southwest airlines in the United States or Ryanair in Europe and you will see cost dominates the buying decision of a lot of air travelers over luxury amenities.
In some minds, discount seeking air travelers are tantamount to operating an air born Greyhound bus. Crowded seats, a few toilets, and bring your own snacks and dinner has replaced the image of expensive and exclusive snobbery of the past.
Airline executives have a lot to balance, literally, to satisfy the needs of an air traveler. Fuel costs, security measures, and passenger ratios shape the profit decisions of air travel. In order to be competitive, and remain solvent, airlines have been forced to become like a bus. Fill the seats and cut passenger cost has become the airline arrangement of today.
Business travelers once courted as the bread and butter of air travel no longer measure as much in importance. The percentage of revenue from the business air traveler has decreased almost 30% for many domestic andinternational super carriers. This trend reversal, where business travelers paid the premium cost of first and business class fares, which really subsidized the coach traveler, can be seen in the elimination outright of those seats. Some carriers only stock economy seats and are profitable for it.
Air travelers are savvy. They know to go beyond carrier bookings to find cheaper flight information. Online discounters and air travel consolidators, once nearly unknown to the traveling public, now dominate search engine rankings for air fares. Brand loyalty in the airline industry is nearly a misnomer. Frequent flyer miles lie dormant as air travelers look to find the most economical, cheapest way of travel regardless of the number of inconvenient stops and layovers.
The profile of the air traveler has changed. And so has the face of the air traveler changed. You are as likely to sit beside an executive with a laptop as you are an air traveler from Russia who will use her vacation time and small budget to make five or six stops on one ticket as you fly the friendly skies.