Luxury air travel: Out of the blue, into the red

Fri Jun 4, 2010 9:32am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - The economic downturn has clipped the wings of luxury air travel.

Hi-end boutique airlines have fallen from the sky, business travelers are bargain hunting online and most folks seated in the front of the plane have paid only for the back, experts say.

"Luxury air travel has essentially been grounded," said Peter Yesawich, CEO of the travel marketing company Ypartnership, "One of the first prerequisites to go in a tough economy."

Yesawich, whose company tracks travel trends, said that with the exception of long hauls, these days even most folks in first class are flying on upgrades.

"It's said that real profit in any flight is front of plane. The rest covers the overhead," he explained. "But there's been a conscious effort by corporations and individuals to suppress that travel."

Airlines are also battling the price transparency that the internet has revealed.

"A couple of clicks on, for example, shops airfares even for business class," Yesawich explained.

He said big carriers, such as Delta and British Airways, are trying to lure business travelers back to first class with amenities such as onboard showers, flat seats for sleeping and Internet access.   Continued...

<p>OpenSkies Airline Senior Flight Officer Andy Pomeroy walks down the aisle of one of its Boeing 757-200 jets that features 84 business class seats only cabins in Dulles, Virginia, March 24, 2010. REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang</p>