Dubai: Etihad Airways wants to give you a little taste of flying Business Class when you’re cramped back in Economy.
The carrier will start selling a selection of comfort items to those on-board, including amenity kits with skincare products, champagne, cold brew coffee, snack boxes, and sleepwear.
The products will be introduced on select routes to and from Abu Dhabi.
And some passengers are likely to be buying some of those products, analysts said, especially on long-haul flights.
“I think they’ve done a lot of research into what customers want, and I think a lot of passengers feel that even though they’re purchasing an Economy Class ticket, some of those fares aren’t the cheapest, but they like what Etihad has to offer. As a result, I think Etihad looked at the feedback and thought, ‘If they’re happy to pay extra to fly with us, who’s to say they won’t be happy to pay extra for on-board amenities,” said Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at Strategic Aero Research.
The sales of premium products to Economy Class passengers follows an earlier move by Etihad to introduce paid-for lounge access, neighbour-free seats, and extra-legroom seats.
Dubai-based Emirates, had earlier introduced similar offers, charging passengers for seat-selection and access to its premium lounges.
The move to monetise more services comes as airlines in the region grapple with a more challenging operating environment. Etihad recorded $1.87 billion (Dh6.87 billion) losses in 2016.
“The one area of caution I would point is if they’re (Etihad) going down that route, why are they not doing a full-blown Premium Economy product? This would perhaps generate much more revenue than one or two [extra services]. Is it an issue of cost? Is it a lack of confidence that they can fill those cabins? Is there something else?” Ahmad said.
Currently, neither Emirates nor Qatar Airways, the two other major carriers in the region, have premium economy cabins, though other airlines in the Middle East do.
In its statement on Monday, Etihad said that it will monitor guest satisfaction with the launch, and aims to expand the range of items sold.
“Etihad Airways is always looking at new ways to give our guests more power and control over their experience, through options to customise and personalise their journey,” said Linda Celestino, vice president for guest experience and delivery.
The new products being sold include Christian Lacroix amenity kits with Omorovicza skincare, Christian Lacroix sleepwear and Coffee Planet cold brew.
What's on offer
Paris, London and all Australian sectors in Economy Class: Cold brewed coffee from Coffee Planet: USD 4 / AED 15 a glass
All long haul and ultra-long haul (except US) sectors in Economy Class: Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Brut NV champagne: USD 8 / AED 30 per glass
All ultra-long haul sectors (except US routes) in all cabins: Christian Lacroix male and female branded amenity kits with Omorovicza products: USD 22 / AED 80
Christian Lacroix branded sleepwear: USD 35 / AED 130
In January 2018, a Snack Box featuring both sweet and healthy snacks to suit guests’ differing tastes and cravings will be introduced.