American Airlines announced new nonstop service from JFK to Newcastle, England, the first time the two cities have been connected. This is good news; more service is always better than less service. But as you keep reading the press release, you may be struck by the sentence that reads, “American will begin serving the route on May 1, 2006, using its 188-seat Boeing 757 aircraft with all-coach seating.”
All coach seating? On a flight to England? Haven’t the big US carriers said that the reason they’re so completely different from low cost carriers is because they offer business class? I understand the economics here, but how will the big guys differentiate themselves if they’re offering EXACTLY THE SAME PRODUCT as low-fare carriers. Of course, sometimes the product is worse than low-fare carriers. This is going to invite low-fare airlines start up and fly all-coach 757s across the Atlantic because the upstarts can offer the same product without the unionized labor. That means low prices. 18 months from now I bet there are 5 airlines flying like that.