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Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval

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Airlines and Travelers: Will They Ever Find Love Again?

Posted: 11/17/11 05:34 PM ET

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, many consumers are no doubt looking forward to gathering with their families and stuffing themselves full of turkey, dressing, and pumpkin pie. But, they're probably not quite as eager to stuff themselves into planes, trains, and automobiles in order to get there during the busiest travel week of the year.

You don't have to look far to see that air travel is a topic that's been all over the airwaves recently, from consumer studies in the news, to the debates over the "right to fly" and in-flight advertising, to prime time TV programming. While ABC still seems uncertain about the future of its struggling series, Pan Am, having only ordered five more episodes, one thing is for sure. Passengers are tired of all of the drama and are nostalgic for the niceties of yesteryear, when the industry was about more than simply getting from Point A to Point B.

So, could a little glamor be just the ticket to getting consumers excited about air travel again? With the recent release of the plush new Boeing Dreamliner, some are wondering if airlines can indeed rekindle that once-hot romance between themselves and travelers.

As marketing experts who've worked closely with some of the industry's biggest names, the turbulent relationship between consumers and airlines is one that's been on our minds for some time. But, we're not the only ones thinking of ways it can be salvaged -- and many of the solutions are simpler than you might imagine.

In fact, a recent Milepoint survey among frequent business travelers found that they would be willing to pay 50% more for what is known as a "Tommy Class" ticket. As the Wall Street Journal reports, this coach ticket comes with an empty adjacent middle seat and provides upgraded food and beverage options, along with extra frequent-flier miles. The perk for airlines? These low-cost upgrades have a track record of selling out quickly.

Clearly there are ways for consumers and airlines to finally come together and fly off into the sunset once again. And we believe communication from both sides is at the heart of the matter. But, we'd also love to get your thoughts. With a little TLC, do you think airlines and passengers can recapture the past magic of their relationship?

 
 
 

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