Airlines Cash In as Flexible Work Changes Travel Patterns
I’ve had the good fortune to work in Europe three times in the past five years. I’ve used the United Airlines family of brands, and each time I’ve experienced a level of comfort that leaves me wondering if I’ve been to the same place twice.
What makes this a special experience isn’t just the convenience of flying on multiple airlines with very few, if any, of the inconveniences that we associate with taking the traditional bus or train when traveling. There’s the familiarity of being able to select a seat, the knowledge that the meal service will arrive on time, that an attendant will make your life much easier and sometimes more enjoyable, and the reassurance of the staff who greet you at the gate, ask if you needed assistance, and take care of your luggage.
There’s the convenience of not having to go through the airport — in particular, not having to get out of your car for almost 10 minutes, which, to many travelers, is a major inconvenience. (The new Airbus A330 aircraft that United now flies to London, Tokyo and Hong Kong feature a new, automated loading and unloading system that moves the entire cabin one compartment at a time, with only one person behind the wheel at any time.)
There’s the convenience of no wait times and, thanks to the new technology, no delays.
There’s the comfort of knowing you’re in a different place, with different people, eating a different food, drinking a different beverage than you are used to. (It only takes a one-minute trip to go back to a different restaurant, or a one-minute shuttle ride to get back to where you started.)
And there’s the comfort of the aircraft itself.
For more than a quarter century the Airbus A320 and A321 models have been manufactured by United, providing a comfortable, modern flying experience. They also are the basis of the brand that United has long built into itself. At first, it was the simple idea to offer a wide range of seats on the A321, a new model that allowed passengers to switch between economy, first and business class without having to change the seating arrangement at every landing (a feature it shares with other Airbus models).
But, in recent years, United has been able to do much more than provide choice — it has been able to take that choice one step further. Each of the new Airbus A320