When compared to their elders, members of the Millennial Generation have shown a greater proclivity towards getting out there and seeing the world; this generational trait has not gone unnoticed by airline executives, and this is something that is clearly reflected by budget flights to unusual destinations; however, executives have come to realize that cheap airfare will not be enough to elicit loyalty from this growing segment.
Previous generations have enjoyed the Golden Age of passenger aviation, a time when flying was an elaborate and luxurious affair for travelers across all seating classes; they also lived through the downturn of air travel in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Millennials are living in the age of budget flights, but they are also getting tired of the spartan conditions that they have to endure in exchange for cheap airfare. Many airlines, particularly those that are based in the United States, have gone overboard with their efforts to cut down on expenses by taking perks away from passengers, and this is not sitting well with Millennials.
The Air France-KLM group has taken a bold approach towards courting Millennials, albeit mostly those with deep pockets. Joon, a new luxury airline conceived by Air France, is unabashedly catering to wealthy hipsters by offering them lots of personal technology aboard stylish cabins, personal assistants, free Uber rides, and travel to the hippest destinations across Europe. As a new airline, Joon has not taken the well-traveled road of budget airfare; instead, it is aiming to please passengers who will pay considerably more for in-flight wireless internet service, electronic dance music playlists, gourmet organic meals, and other trendy perks.
Commercial aviation analysts are not sure about Joon’s business model due to its expensive airfare, but they are seeing other airlines trying to incorporate trendy perks to their discounted flights. The goal is to cultivate passenger loyalty, which is difficult at a time when Millennials can search for cheap tickets on their smartphones and resign themselves to no-frills flights as long as they can endure economy seating discomfort for a few hours.
Airlines are certainly paying attention to where Millennials are flying. When Air Berlin recently ceased operations, hipster travelers bound for Palma de Mallorca and Ibiza were left without one of their most endearing airlines; however, Lufthansa and EasyJet immediately added these trendy destinations to their routes, and they are planning on rolling out free Wi-Fi next year.