When flying became a more viable option in the past few decades , it started with two classes , an economy class and a business class (atleast in India). Though it was called an “economy” class it still came up with the standard set of privileges including hand luggage, check-in luggage, a meal among others.
Early 2000’s came a new trend of low cost carriers, targeting the cost conscious and budget travellers. The LCC’s was popularized by Southwest Airlines in the West, RyanAir in Europe and AirAsia in Asia. These airlines had their focus, priorities and more importantly pricing right. People who chose to fly light got the low fare while the additional options were charged on a nominal basis. The basic fares of LCC’s were almost 50% of the fare of full service carriers.
Uprising of the Budget Carriers
Strictly from an Indian perspective, after the landfall exit of Kingfisher Airlines, the other biggest player, Jet Airways toyed with the idea of LCC by introducing an airline called Jet Lite, Jet Konnect while maintaining their premium full service brand of Jet Airways intact. Simultaneously other airlines like SpiceJet, Indigo, GoAir, AirAsia had almost a 80% + marketshare combined.
Finally JetAirways rightly decided that it was only hurting their premium brand and decide to close all their budget brands. A year back, Tata Group in a joint venture with Singapore Airlines came up with an amazing premium airline called Tata Vistara. As a first to India, they came up with an additional class called Premium Economy class . The Premium economy class offered an additional seat recline, leg space and an additional meal option with a special coffee.
However with the recent turbulent atmosphere in the airline sectors, companies are resorting to cutting costs in every possible way. The first to go is always food.
The Economy Classes
However this can be a very bad move for passengers who doesn’t prefer budget / LCC’s generally. The fact that they are not being told to pay extra for food while booking a ticket gives the airline a bad image. They are being called “full-service carriers” for a reason.
The minute you are charged separately for food and luggage in a “full-service” carrier, it becomes yet another budget carrier and loses the premium image it had strived to build. Both AirVistara and Jet Airways has unfortunately taken this route.
With an innovative airline design, gourmet food offering, Deepika Padukone as a brand ambassador, Vistara built a super premium image. Now they have decided to let go of everything with so called “Flexi pricing” and making customers pay for food
Misled by some statistics , airlines believe their savings through skipping food and charging for it would give them a good boost of revenue. What they don’t realize is a shift in customer preferences to a cheaper budget airline as compared to them. This actually might act against them and end up losing more revenue than serving complimentary food in the first place.
Just like Myntra rolled back their senseless “App” only idea to provide both options, I’m pretty sure Vistara will slowly discontinue this budget option (too late for Jet Airways though, with some terrible decision makings, spoiling their airline in the last year)