Open Skies Concierge

British Airways, Customer Service

Open Skies, the new airline from BA, is getting ready to launch flights between New York and Paris in the next couple of weeks, and we’re slowly learning more about their service. In last week’s blog post, Dale Moss, head honcho, announced that the airline will have a concierge service for those who fly with the airline.

Unlike Air New Zealand, this won’t be an onboard concierge. No, this will be a service on the ground to help you plan your trip. Dale has apparently gone and hired as many people with fancy pants names like Aurore, Chantal, and Stellan as he could find to do the job. I’m actually a little surprised to see they’ve hired 10 people to do this – that seems to be way more than enough for such a small airline.

So how does this make sense for the airline? Well, it’s a differentiator. It provides a great resource for people – almost like having a travel agent at your beck and call, and that’s a nice benefit. Depending upon how Open Skies handles it, the airline should benefit monetarily as well. If they book you a room, they should be able to get a commission of some sort. If it can pay for itself, then it’s a no-brainer.

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7 comments on “Open Skies Concierge

  1. Re. the BA “Open Skies” concierge –
    A program of this kind can be self-supporting with generated revenue (as well as goodwill) from services and Customer Resource Management (CRM)- systems.
    Continental Airlines proved this concept, way back in the late sixties (on B707’s) when I was LAX-based with the carrier. The DPS – Director of Passenger Services – lifted the ticket coupons during the flight in order to offer return confirmed bookings to ‘open’ return passengers and offer destination services (such as accelerated connection service) for inter-lining passengers. The goodwill the DPS team generated was worth millions in business for Continental. I was manager of Publicity for Continental at these times and I know for certain what benefit(s) the Concierge-type service, in this case on-board, service can bring to the airline in a quality-revenue operating environment.

  2. At $580 for a restricted one-way economy ticket, are they going to have this service for the economy passengers as well? I’d also be very interested in hearing if the cost of these concierges being at least somewhat offset by ancillary revenues. If successful from that standpoint, it stands to reason that we may begin to see these type of “business travel agents” at other airlines.

  3. Court – It doesn’t seem to differentiate by class of service in the blog post. With that many concierges, I would assume it would include economy passengers as well otherwise they’d have a lot of free time.

  4. I wonder how much the service will be used. The front cabin people usually don’t make their own travel plans, they have travel agents. Those that travel for business have the company agency would handle all their needs using company contracts. Leisure travelers mostly use travel agents or go with packages they find online. Who will these people be helping?

  5. Will they be flying 757s nonstop BRU-NYC? I guess this is well within the type’s range, especially with winglets, but is BA also still planning on operating the A318 service from London City to JFK? I understand that NWA, US, AA, and others have been operating 757s on transatlantic service for some time, but it still seems that you are more likely to fly a widebody across the pond than a narrow body. Do you think that these two services by BA will hasten the death of the transatlantic widebody? In other words, are the days of widebody service between North America and Western Europe numbered?

  6. David – My sense is that this won’t be limited just to travel agent services. It could be more like a concierge that recommends restaurants and makes reservations for you as well. But also, I think there are a fair amount of leisure travelers and unmanaged business travelers that may use the travel agent services as well.

    Zach – The initial route was either Paris or Brussels and Paris won, so I have to assume that Brussels will come at some point. The BA A318 service is still planned, and they’ve ordered planes for it. But, I don’t think this is the end of the widebody. Open Skies is really targeting a very specific, niche market here. They are not going to serve the large numbers of travelers that need to go back and forth between major cities, but instead they want to serve the premium passenger. Coach is such a small part of the aircraft that it’s almost an afterthought. So, I wouldn’t worry. They’ll keep flying widebodies.

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