Japanese budget carrier and JAL spin-off ZIPAIR is launching an incredibly basic business class fare. While for most airlines, the term ‘business class’ includes additions such as lounge access, a premium inflight meal, and additional checked baggage, ZIPAIR is ‘unbundling’ the airfare in cabin class. Given the name ‘Simple,’ let’s look at just how bare this type of business class ticket really is.
“Our mission at ZIPAIR is to be the NEW BASIC AIRLINE that defines a new standard that is neither a full-service carrier nor a low-cost carrier.” -ZIPAIR website
Neither full-service nor a low-cost carrier
There’s just one thing that ZIPAIR’s ‘Simple’ category of business class airfare has in common with most lie-flat business class products: the seat.
“As the name suggests, the Business Class product features a 180-degree reclining seat and a spaciously designed area with privacy in mind. The cover of each seat is made with genuine leather, allowing one to relax and enjoy the flight experience, while being equipped with reading lights and charging equipment.” -ZIPAIR Press Release
And that’s where the similarities end. For legacy/full-service carriers, even the most basic business class fare will often include a premium meal and alcohol, an amenity kit, as well as a generous allowance of checked baggage. However, ZIPAIR’s lie-flat ‘Simple’ fare is stripped of all of these features as can be seen in the screen capture below:
Everything is extra
While for many legacy carriers, the difference in business class fares is usually centered around ticket flexibility and cancelation or change fees. When it comes to ZIPAIR, the most basic business class ticket won’t even let you choose your seat or allow for a carry-on bag.
Other things missing include the inflight meal, amenity kit, and checked-baggage. All of these can be obtained as a bundle through another fare category (Value, Biz, or Premium). Alternatively, passengers can pay only for what they want and need, as shown in the screen capture below:
We do need to note that the one thing that isn’t extra, and is included free in all airfare is inflight WiFi – a refreshing difference that most customers will appreciate.
Great for certain routes
We can imagine this type of basic fare gaining popularity on specific routes. For example, the one route that ZIPAIR is currently offering, Tokyo Narita to Seoul Incheon, pairs well with a simplified business class fare.
This is because at just under three hours long, passengers probably won’t need an amenity kit and might even be able to do without an inflight meal. Traveling for business would likely even negate the need for a checked-bag.
The airline will launch a Honolulu service shortly. This longer journey may leave passengers wanting a little more.
Therefore, this new basic fare would save customers money and allow for ZIPAIR to tap into a new segment of traveler – one that appreciates a spacious seat but prefers to (or is able to) travel light.
What do you think of this idea of unbundling business class? Does it make sense – especially in today’s aviation business climate? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.