I was in Canada much of last week, and happened to run into an off-duty Air Canada pilot. I had flown Air Canada a few times in the previous days, and told him that the experience was significantly better than on any U.S. airline. He grimaced. “Oh, it’s terrible for us, too,” he said. Then he talked about all the ways in which flying has become so much more unpleasant, even for pilots, in recent years — overcrowded planes, impossible schedules, unpleasant conditions, etc.
So I asked him, if he were king for a day, what’s the first thing he’d do to improve Air Canada?
“That’s easy,” he said. “Change the class of the people who fly.”
We both laughed, but he wasn’t kidding. His complaint was that airline fares have gotten so cheap that there’s simply not enough revenue being generated to run an airline as it should be run, leaving everyone — employees included — pretty unhappy. (For further evidence of airline employee
dissatisfication dissatisfaction, see the articles on this subject in today’s New York Times and Wall Street Journal.)
All of which made me wonder: Why is there no all-business-class jet service within the U.S.? Eos Airlines, Maxjet, and Silverjet thought it worthwhile to start all-business-class New York-to-London service at fares well below the typical business class ticket. What would happen if a U.S. airline, startup or otherwise, offered all-business-class service between, say, 10 or 20 U.S. cities including N.Y.C., Chicago, Washington, L.A., Dallas, San Francisco, Miami, Boston, Atlanta, etc.?
I find it hard to believe that there aren’t enough customers to fill those planes in a heartbeat. For all I know, there may be regulations that stand in the way. Or perhaps someone is building such an airline as I type. Steven Udvar-Hazy would surely know.
If so, I know a pilot in Canada who is ready to be your Employee No. 1.