Marketplace has a new podcast for kids, "Million Bazillion!" EPISODE OUT NOW

As people start flying again, more are exploring the first-class cabin

Meghan McCarty Carino Jul 14, 2021
Heard on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
A Delta airlines plane is seen on the tarmac of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in July in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

As people start flying again, more are exploring the first-class cabin

Meghan McCarty Carino Jul 14, 2021
Heard on:
A Delta airlines plane is seen on the tarmac of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in July in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Delta Airlines reports earnings today, amid a relative summer travel boom. Tourists have increasingly taken to the skies as economies have reopened and vaccinations become more widespread. Business travel, however, is nowhere near what it had been before the pandemic. What does that mean for first-class and other premium tickets that used to go on company credit cards?

Business travelers used to make up about 70% of the folks in first class, according to travel analyst Henry Harteveldt. These days, tourists are also willing to pay more for a little personal space.

“You just have that much more distance between yourself and the person next to you on the plane,” Harteveldt said.

More travelers can afford it this year, said Madhu Unnikrishnan, editor of Airline Weekly.

“People are now taking their first vacations in some cases in 15 months, so they’ve got a lot of money saved up and they’re splurging on … the front of the airplane,” he said.

Price differences for premium seats have narrowed, and airlines are offering more upgrade promotions to loyalty members, according to airline analyst Robert Mann.

“If you have an elite customer status with a certain airline, the ability to get that upgrade is actually pretty good by historical standards,” Mann said.

If there’s a resurgence of COVID-19 in the fall, Mann added, people who are open to flying now may think twice about getting on a plane. 

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.