I read an interesting article the other day comparing air travel preferences between Millenials (those born between 1980-early 2000s) and Generation X (those born between 1960-1980) travelers. The big takeaway from this study of nearly 3000 participants was that Millenials were willing to pay more for flights in return for a better on-board experience.
The type of on-board experiences contemplated by Millenials ranged from “open-bar” alcohol access, themed seasonal flights with matching snacks, drinks and movies, and in-flight connectivity to ideas so extreme as child-free planes. Generation Xers, by comparison, saw these as nice-to-haves, but cared more about reasonable airfares and on-time arrivals.
From what I can gather, the airlines are listening to what the Millenials have to say. Nearly all major U.S. airlines offer wifi on many its planes.
Virgin America and Airtran offer it aboard all of their flights.
Virgin even takes the concept of on-board experiences to a new level by offering guests with an array of extra options such as: seat-to-seat delivery; virtual chatting with other guests on board; and even an “open tab” concept for food and drink all through its seatback entertainment system.
With flight times growing longer and longer, and passengers spending more and more time in transit, it’s no wonder that the on-board experience is so critical. From my own experience, there is nothing more insufferable than a 10-hour flight to Dubai with a broken entertainment system.
As a Millenial myself, I like inflight wifi, and can certainly get behind the open-bar concept so long as flight attendants reserve the right to cut off any guest who has reached a point of excess before said guest creates any distractions on-board. But as we make all of these tech and entertainment upgrades to our flights, let’s not forget about other in-flight services that enhance guests’ comfort that have slowly been phased out of the U.S. domestic market in recent years: the availability of pillows and blankets, free headsets for flights longer than 3 hours, free checked luggage, and gratis meals in economy class (like in Europe).
And for everything else, you can charge my Visa.