A few well-known airlines have embarked on a new trend in growing ancillary revenue streams by actually inventing new services instead of merely unbundling existing ones. American and United announced initiatives in the last couple of days.
Starting August 6, American Airlines will partner with BAGS VIP Luggage Delivery to offer a door-to-door delivery service for luggage from more than 200 U.S. domestic airports for a fee.
Beginning yesterday, US Airways became the first US carrier to offer international economy passengers a premium meal choice for a typical price of $20. The program is called DineFresh, with items like shrimp cocktail and creme brulee cheesecake (whatever that is).
The $22 billion market for ancillary sales is only going to grow, it seems.
The trend isn't limited to North America.
Case in point: In the UK, easyJet says that this autumn it will decide if it will add an up-sell option to all of its flights for products such as additional legroom. It is continuing to trial optional services on flights out of Stansted, such as £12 for extra-leg room and £ 8 for front seats booked at the last minute. (The airline generally works on a first-come, first-served seating basis.)
These developments showcase how airlines are eager to create new lines of revenue. Unlike by simply unbundling existing services, such as by inventing fees for checking or carrying on luggage, these airlines are experimenting with adding services that customers weren't able to buy from airlines previously.
The trend will also pressure global distribution systems to become more accommodating to help in the sale of such items.
NB: Bag of money courtesy of Shutterstock.