What do we really want from a first class travel experience? For the hassles of travel to be removed. However, we don’t really need to be flying first class for this to happen. It can happen even when traveling in cattle class.
Recently, I went through travel with family on an airline where I had no status and was in economy. Yes, I still had complimentary curbside car drop off (“Valet Care”) because of card affiliation, but the rest of process was amazing. Bag drop — no line up. Security — no line up. Boarding — Zone 3 and still plenty of space in the overhead and because of a staggering of boarding, no wait on the jet bridge.
The real test is when it’s peak but I’m imagining a future where, because of automation and AI, this experience happens all the time. Maybe it’s because of biometric ID that removes security checkpoints altogether, or the elimination of multiple stickers for bag check because of RFID. Or maybe it’s because other modes of transportation have become so affordable and low cost that air travel drops between some routes and there are fewer travelers. Or maybe it’s because we can get an estimate of wait times so that we can plan our arrival at the airport for the best possible arrival.