If you’re like me, you avoid purchasing ancillary services like the plague when you book your airline ticket. After feeling as though I’ve finally succeeded at finding the lowest fare to my destination, at least for the moment, I have no interest in spending more money on in-flight Wi-Fi, extra bags, early boarding privileges, or a lounge day pass (I’m 5’ 1” so extra legroom is a bit unnecessary for me). In fact, with so many extra fees associated with booking airline tickets today, I feel great about getting away with 1 fee plus tax!
But how about the day I fly? I may have gotten up at 4am to make an outbound flight and now it is 7pm and I’m arriving at the airport to catch a 9:30pm flight home. I’m exhausted and that airline lounge sounds mighty appealing for the next 2 hours. Or I may have arrived at the gate only to find out the plane is completely full; meanwhile I know I need to bring my bag on the flight so I can quickly deplane and grab a cab to a business meeting. Paying for early boarding privileges is ideal.
So why am I more than happy to pay extra cash for these ancillary services the day I’m traveling, yet want nothing to do with them when I purchase the ticket days earlier? Because these moments in time are different decision points in the travel process, associated with very different contexts. The decisions made while planning a trip are very logical and deliberate. Meanwhile, the decisions made while on a trip are much more visceral and emotional.
What does this mean for ancillary services? They go hand-in-hand with mobile on the day-of-travel. Airlines and airports should spend less time thinking about how to sell them on websites and at the point of ticket sale. Instead, they should focus on how to most effectively offer them on mobile devices – whether in mobile websites, in native apps or via notifications. In fact, how fantastic would it be if I received an alert on my phone while parking for an overseas flight, asking if I wanted to upgrade to business class for a last-minute price of $100? Both the airline and I win, since the airline will be flying the same number of business class seats whether I take the offer or not!