APEX contributor Marisa Garcia explores the rise of premium economy in a three-part web series, released every Friday starting November 20, 2015. In this series, we will look at how various airlines perceive their premium economy product and why the time is now for airlines to bring this class on board – if they haven’t already.
APEX Insight: LOT Polish Airlines’ director of Customer Experience and Product Standards Krzysztof Moczulski emphasizes the importance of its premium economy product and the role it plays in the airline’s modern brand definition. Moczulski further suggests airlines that can distinguish their premium product – and avoid commoditization – will reap the benefits. “Once you have a very positive customer experience, it drives revenues because it increases the loyalty of customers,” he explains.
During a panel discussion on cabin trends at the recent IATA World Passenger Summit in Hamburg, LOT Polish Airlines’ director of Customer Experience and Product Standards, Krzysztof Moczulski, said the airline’s premium economy product is essential to the airline’s modern brand definition, avoiding what he cautions is the commoditization of airline service which dilutes consumer value and leaves airlines competing only on fares.
“I think commoditizing is a blind street for airlines,” he told us during a one-on-one conversation on the importance of differentiation and the premium economy space. “I would say that airlines should differentiate amongst themselves and should offer some kind of signature that is unique to the brand – this is the loyalty driver. Once you have a very positive customer experience, it drives revenues because it increases the loyalty of customers.”
This belief that brand definition is essential and that the experience of air travel should be a positive one so that it encourages repeat bookings influenced the airline’s decision to install a premium economy product on long-haul flights, which Moczulski says, has been a success in bookings.
“I think commoditizing is a blind street for airlines,” Krzysztof Moczulski, LOT Polish Airlines
The LOT premium economy product is in fact to the same high standards that would have been offered in a business class or even a first class cabin 20 years ago, but updated with modern in-flight entertainment (IFE) and other seat comforts. It cannot be confused as a souped-up economy product. LOT’s premium economy is also a separate cabin, with adequate divides, giving passengers the sense of separation which enhances the ‘premium’ feeling. The airline’s full lie-flat bed business class product still offers significantly more comfort to passengers willing to pay for a full premium experience.
Moczulski told us how LOT Airlines targeted this premium economy on their new 787 Dreamliner aircraft to satisfy the middle-market need.
“When I look at the profile of our passengers, I see some leisure passengers who are fed up with economy, with being squeezed in the back, and who are willing to pay for extra product. I also see many corporates whose travel policies don’t allow traveling business class,” he said. “With premium economy, these passengers find the perfect solution for longer flights. We have a 2-3-2 configuration in the Dreamliner, with a 15 degree recline. This product offers quite a good level of comfort and there’s also [an upgraded] onboard service. It’s a former 767 business class service, with china food service and a good selection of wines. We try to make this premium economy product really premium, so that the passenger can sense the difference.”