The First Time in Business Class - an Exclusive, Broken User Experience

I’m amazed at how broken our everyday IT things are. You might think that we’re so far that most of the stuff just works, but you get proven wrong time after time. Good for our business, there’s a lot to build still.

Never thought I’d get there, but here I am, flying in business class with the family. The first time for us. It was a flight from Phuket to Helsinki a few weeks back when I was heading to airport and back home. I’m price sensitive, so originally I booked the standard seats.

I was quite ok with that red-eyed experience myself, but what made me try to upgrade was my 6 yo daughter. Her friend was in the business class. They had been playing together at the pool for one week. This 13 h long flight would be so much better if they had the opportunity to interact and play together. So it was up to daddy to fix it.

Shut up and take my money

The day before the flight, I tried checking the price of the upgrade on the airline mobile app. No luck, no available upgrades. OK, that sucked. Next day I decided to try again and I went on the website. Nope, failed, no available upgrades said the website and that helpful person on the company's chat service. I was willing to throw money at a problem I had and they weren’t interested in taking it.

I was about to give up. Sorry baby, daddy can’t set you up with your friend for the flight. No father however can stand those sad eyes and the feeling of disappointment. So one more try – I dashed to the airline counter when I arrived at the airport.

Well, color me surprised. Despite getting a no several times, this time the answer was different: oh yes, we have plenty of room in the business and economy+ classes. The price was surprisingly reasonable. (One wouldn’t assume business class and reasonable pricing go together.) I took the upgrade.

When I got on the plane, most of the business class was empty. Really? Why? It doesn’t seem like they’re making the best business out of the business class. Good for me - it was quiet. I got my rest and my daughter got to sit next to her friend.

The exclusive empty pointless seats in the sky

I met a pilot friend of mine a few days back. I told him about my experience of upgrading and the errors that almost stopped me giving money to the airline. He just sighed in frustration. He told me that this is nothing special. The business class runs under capacity often.

I was amazed. I assumed that these folks are moving a lot of people, money and information every single day. In fact, the airlines basically have two jobs: 1) move people safely through the skies, 2) fill the plane with paying passengers. You’d think that they’d squeeze every penny out of us passengers. You’d be wrong. They’ll have a lot of empty seats in the business class of a 100 million EUR airplane just because the world’s not ready. Is IT broken?

What a waste. Luckily, there’s still a lot of work for us and our peers in the IT industry.