Baggage Wars : Upgrading the passenger experience

Baggage Wars : Upgrading the passenger experience


Asia's full-service airlines are banking on winning more customers by increasing passenger baggage allowances.

At least seven Asia-Pacific carriers, including Singapore Airlines, Philippine Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Silk Air, Garuda Indonesia, Malaysia Airlines and Qantas have in recent months raised weight limits for free checked-in baggage by as much as 53%. The increase in baggage allowance reveals airlines efforts to constantly provide their customers with a more enhanced travel experience in spite of the competition.

Low-cost airline now accounts for a quarter of Asia’s traffic, hurting demand for full-service carriers especially in Asia Pacific.

Last week, Singapore Airlines said it would increase its free baggage allowance in all travel classes on most routes by 10 kilograms, matching an earlier decision by premium rival Malaysia Airlines. The decision came just as the Singapore flag carrier reported further declines in passenger yields, a trend that has continued since the fiscal year ended March 2011. Philippine Airlines decides to stick with its usual 20 kilograms. Qantas, Silk Air Garuda Indonesia also followed the same strategy.

In addition, airlines are making it easier for customers to earn frequent-flier miles on special discounted fares, while others are extending perks normally reserved for premium travelers to coach customers.

In the recent article “It’s not just about the cheapest seat on a flight,” said Suresh Singam, head of government and international affairs at Malaysia Airlines. “We believe there is a premium that you can charge because of the brand and value.”

“We are not like Emirates which have deep pockets [and] can buy so many aircraft. We have a limited bank account,” said Emirsyah Satar, chief executive of Garuda, explaining his airline’s decision to join the SkyTeam alliance to expand its international footprint.

Mr. Satar said Asian carriers have an advantage over rapidly expanding Middle Eastern airlines because they are able to fly fast-growing routes using smaller planes that the Gulf carriers don’t have.

“We’ve got that market,” he said.

To find out more how airlines are upgrading and moving to the new era of air travel join us at the round table discussions for AirXperience Asia 2014!