arrow-right cart chevron-down chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up close menu minus play plus search share user email pinterest facebook instagram snapchat tumblr twitter vimeo youtube subscribe dogecoin dwolla forbrugsforeningen litecoin amazon_payments american_express bitcoin cirrus discover fancy interac jcb master paypal stripe visa diners_club dankort maestro trash

Shopping Cart

Tips, Tricks, & Advice

Ode to the Airlines (lessons for marketers, too)

Ode to the Airlines (lessons for marketers, too)

by Phillip D'Orazio

A year ago

Full disclosure, when I travel, I travel in business class. I’ve worked very hard in my professional career to be able to purchase a business class ticket when I travel for both work and/or pleasure. Traveling in business class domestically has never been more expensive. I feel airlines are charging more and offering less services. So, I thought it would be prudent to write about my thoughts on the “domestic” business class flying experience. Ready, set, fly!


I feel the airlines all fail here. I cannot tell you the number of times I have boarded the plane and sat down only to find crumbs on my seat or empty wrappers in areas dedicated to seat storage. On some occasions the middle console area is sticky or stained due to previous flights – yuck! We have a real issue here. In this area: the airlines for the most part fail. The airlines are too worried about turning flights around and managing the clock vs. cleanliness. Slow down and have some dignity. Clean the planes.


I am hardcore about this. If you are going to charge a 50%, 100% or 150% premium for business class ticket vs. coach, bring on the drinks. Pre-boarding drinks are very important to me. Most airlines don’t have a consistent strategy around pre-boarding drinks. I suggest that all business class passengers get “pre-boarding” drinks regardless of the beverage type (water vs. alcohol). A message to the airlines, pre-boarding drinks are a great marketing tool to push passengers into premium business class tickets. In the marketing world this is called increasing your cart-value.  If airlines were consistent with this policy, coach passengers might be more inclined to upgrade knowing that drinks await them as they wait for the plane to fill up and push off. Come on, don’t those drinks look yummy when you are passing through to coach and you are hot and sweaty from travel?  In this area: I give the airlines a 60% score. Be consistent and don’t be cheap. Don’t leave it up to the flight attendants, airlines executives need to make this a fundamental perk.


Again, this is important to me and another area where airlines get it wrong. If you are charging hundreds or thousands of dollars for a business class ticket show some love to your customers and invest in feeding them. Some airlines are better than others. For instance, boxed lunch vs. hot meal. Regardless of the time in flight, feed your best and most loyal customers. It cannot cost the airline more than $10 to supply a cold boxed lunch/salad on routes less than 2 hours. Typically, if the flight duration is greater than 2 hours you get a hot meal. Sometimes a very tasty meal.  My point is just feed your customers. Flying is stressful, trying to get eats while at the airport can be hard, especially if time is short. Make it easy on us and supply us with a meal. In this area: I give the airlines a 75% score. My score would be 100% if you fed your travelers all the time. It’s such a small investment, with BIG TIME ROI…

Pre-Boarding/Off-Boarding Experience:

Good, I like to board and depart first. In this area: I give the airlines a 100% score.



I think the airlines have been doing better here. Admittedly, I don’t have many issues with delays. Weather is another topic and is out of the airline’s control. In this area: I give the airlines an 85% score. But I only fly 8 to 10 times a year so the true road warriors might have more insight.


It’s bad. Airlines need to make investments here. Business travelers need access to better and faster internet. I would suggest you create an alternative network for business class where the flight attendant can give unique business class flight passcodes to business passengers so work gets done. In this area: I give the airlines a 65% score.  If you have to advertise on your app that this flight has “new, faster internet”, this means the internet on the other flights is sub-par.

Overhead Space:

This can be problematic. I do have recommendations. I suggest that the business class cabin flight attendant monitor who is placing bags in the business class overheads. Let’s make sure we keep the overhead space for the business class passengers, so we all don’t fight each other of the limited space. Business class passengers should get first access on any overhead space allocated to the flight. In this area: I give the airlines a 90% score.

Baggage Fees:

All good here. Our premium fee is working in this area of the flying experience. In this area: I give the airlines a 100% score.

Ticket Counter:

All good here. Priority ticketing counter/lane is a fantastic perk. In this area: I give the airlines a 100% score.

Priority Bagging:

All good here. Love this, brilliant. In this area: I give the airlines a 100% score.

Dang 3 out of 3 – on a roll here!


Delta is the clear winner here. All seat backs have entertainment units. It’s not surprising that flying on Delta Airlines is the most expensive. JetBlue is a close second (but stop charging for headsets, it’s tacky).  I do like the free movies when I can figure out how to log into the network and get to the inflight entertainment portal. In this area: I give the airlines a 70% score.

Conditions of Planes:

This runs the gamut.  For long flights, connecting passengers from large city to large city, the planes are newer, decked out and in good working condition. Some of the regional flights or aircraft dedicated to smaller markets need some renovation. Please note, there are some airlines like United that fly aircraft from the 80’s it seems, whereas the bathrooms still feature ash trays and are that strange “dull” beige color from the period. Really? In this area: I give the airlines a 75% score. I fly out of a smaller market.

Hot Towels:

Where are they, bring them back – what’s the deal? In this area: I give the airlines a 0% score.  I have not had a hot towel in a few months.

In closing, I firmly feel premium should feel like premium. In some areas Airlines hit the mark, in many other areas they really fall short. Your “domestic” business or first-class customers are the heart and soul of your airline. Treat them fairly and with some dignity and respect. They pay a pretty penny for those seats let’s make sure the value proposition is tangible.



Phillip D’Orazio is the CEO of PDMG (Palmetto Digital Marketing Group)
Palmetto Digital Marketing Group is a Top Rated Amazon Agency for Premium and High Growth Amazon Marketplace Brands.


  • Well said Phillip! I don’t fly business class that much anymore but I sure know what you mean when you go in to the bathroom and it has an ashtray. I also very much agree with the sticky consul thing. How hard would it be to wipe it off?

    Ross Uhlfelder on

  • Cool post, quesos 🧀

    Nico on

Leave a comment