Cabin Entertainment Systems on the Rise with Premium Economy Class Seating
Despite the wrench coronavirus has thrown into air travel’s growth, there’s no real doubt that it will continue unabated once the virus is behind us. The cruise industry, for example, may take longer to get back on its feet, but travelers of all types have no real viable, virus-proof alternative to air travel.
Even in June 2020, well into the pandemic, Fortune Business Insights was predicting the aircraft cabin interior market would grow to $35.36 billion by 2027 (compound annual growth rate of 11.8 percent) – taking into account COVID-19.
The analysis specifically cites the need to improve passenger travel experiences as the driving factor behind that growth. Secondly, the study points to the developing world and the huge growth potential in those markets. Air travel’s affordability and accessibility is improving every year, making it a viable option in places where air travel was largely out of reach for most wage earners until recently.
Estimates suggest low-cost carriers were already transporting 1.3 billion passengers as of 2018.
What Will Most of Those Cabin Enhancement Dollars Be Spent On?
One of the biggest drivers in the breakdown of cabin interior dollars by market share is inflight entertainment and connectivity, which together accounted for 24.8 percent of the projected growth. The other big contributor was seating (seating, connectivity and IFE combined amount to about half of the growth, with lighting, windows, galleys and lavatories rounding out the rest).
Another factor contributing to greater spending on aircraft interiors is the addition of a new class of seating: premium economy.
The Rise of Premium Economy
There’s a huge percentage of passengers that would never dream of purchasing a first-class or business-class ticket. The majority of flyers are price conscious, and the marginal improvement in comfort doesn’t justify the outsized increase in ticket price.
If you asked those same passengers if they’d pay a very moderate, 30 to 70 percent premium for more leg room, bigger, more comfortable seating, better lighting and improved internet connectivity, many would likely consider the offer.
There’s room in the passenger carrier marketplace for a middle tier seating option, and it’s unlikely major carriers are about to significantly drop prices on first class or business. Premium economy is a compromise leisure travelers can live with.
The recent Fortune Business Insights study expects premium economy to experience the highest growth in terms of investment and use during their forecast period (between 2020 and 2027).
What Makes Premium Economy Better Than Coach?
Premium economy seats are bigger and are more like recliners than traditional airplane seating. The premium economy area also has better mood lighting, an improved galley experience and superior IFE and internet connectivity.
Considering how much today’s passengers value connectivity, it’s not a stretch to believe they would be willing to pay a bit more for improved Wi-Fi.
Airbus partnered with the London Sleep Center to determine how seat size affected inflight sleep. It turns out just an extra inch of width resulted in 53 percent more sleep – on average – during long flights. The improved bedding, noise-cancelling headphones, adjustable leg rests and other features in premium economy don’t hurt either.
Some airlines are also offering at least some priority check-in lines – behind business and first class – for premium economy passengers, as well as priority baggage handling. Not every airline offers lounge access to premium economy, but some do, or they at least offer discounted lounge access.
Unlike frequent flyer discounts, that tend to cut the miles earned per discounted economy class fare, premium economy flyers are usually awarded extra miles.
Plus, the food is generally of a similar caliber to what you would get in first or business class or at a minimum somewhere between that and economy, which is better than food in economy.
Additionally, premium economy flyers get access to all-important power outlets for their personal devices.
Most current premium economy fares are around 30 to 100 percent higher than a standard economy ticket, or typically about 65 percent less than business pricing.
Want to Give Flyers a Premium Economy Flight Experience?
Rosen Aviation excels at developing cabin entertainment and comfort solutions to enhance the air travel experience of passengers. If you’d like to learn more about our research, development, manufacturing and support services, please contact us at 888-668-4955.