By now, we've all read or heard about Etihad's new out-of-this-world A380 layout. In addition to economy, business and first class seating they also have a "Residence" product on board which features a three-room suite, including a living room bedroom and private bathroom (yes, shower included). And while the "regular" first class - keep in ind, that product alone seems to blow all of the competition out of the water - will be attainable with miles (when Etihad decides to release the space), the Residence will not.** How much is it, you ask? Great question! Currently, it seems Etihad is selling the mini on-board estate for about $21,500 USD for a one-way flight from Abu Dhabi (AUH) to London (LHR). For now, this is the only route their A380 will be operating; the service starts in December of this year.
This brings me to the point of this post. Often, when an airline announces a new on-board product the travel-hacking bloggers rush to be the first to write a trip-report of the new offerings. They each strive to bring a unique twist between their pictures, writing styles and critiques. Some of these bloggers write only about products they'd fly anyways (like my ongoing reviews from my London/Iceland adventure), while others go out of their way to fly these airlines simply for the blog posts. A perfect example of the latter is Ben (aka "Lucky") from the One Mile at a Time blog. Not only is he a a fun guy to be around, but his writing style and detailed trip reports have put him in the upper echelon of travel bloggers. However, his blog post from this morning left me a bit puzzled.
After receiving the advice from several of his readers, Ben decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign to raise the $25,000 worth of funds needed for him to fly and review the soon-to-be-released Residence on board Etihad's new A380. I don't want to get too much into the pros and cons of his acutally launching the campaign, but I will say (at the very least) it is a great PR boost. Sure, he's gotten a bit of pushback from those in the community who say he's losing touch with reality and his readers, but after all, wasn't it his readers - admittedly, only a few of them, but still! - who suggestetd this to him in the first place?! Now back to the matter at hand. While some will certainly call this a poor decision on his part, given there is a 0.00% chance any of his readers are spending the $20,000+ price tag to fly it themselves (and as such, do not need a review), there is still a chance for him to make good on it.
In the first four hours of his campaign (as of the time I'm writing this), he raised over $5,000; seeing as he has tens of thousands of readers, Facebook friends, Twitter followers and other fans/supports, I see his reaching the $25,000 goal as a no-brainer. The quetsion though, and the reason for this post, is to figure out who will he bring along with him? Remember, that $20,000 price tag gives you access to the Residence. But the the residence includes two seats on the plane (which are part of the "living room") as well as the separated bedroom and en-suite bathroom (with shower). Some speculate he'll bring his mother - after all, he writes an awful lot about how close they are and how much he loves traveling with her - while others speculate he'll bring a friend; secrelty (or not so secretly), some hope he'll bring along one of the contributers to his campaign or a blog reader. But why? This is the perfect opportunity for Ben to show he's not just a business-savvy travel-blogger. Yes, he'll likely reach his goal. Yes, he'll fly on this other-worldly product and write an insane trip report (which will certainly include loads of pictures and even some videos). Yes, he'll even be live-tweeting and instagraming thanks to the on-board wifi. But, does he really need a friend or family member to go along with him? In my opinion, the poeple pledging to this campaign are doing so to read an insane trip report - one whcih will not be replicated, at least not anytime soon. They are not however (at leaest not cognitively, while making their pledge) eager to have been bring along a mate for the ride.
So, Ben, if you're reading this - or anyone else who'd like to forward the message along to him - I urge you to make good of this incredible opportunity you have. My thought would be for you to sell your "companion" seat in some type of online auction and then donate that money to charity. Regardless of who you bring, you'll have an incredible experience and we'll all love reading about it (both through your live online interaction as well as through your post-trip reports). I say with almost 100% confidence that among your readership, someone would likely pay at least $3,500 for the privilege to fly with you on this otherwise-unattainable product. Take a cause that's important to you, whatever that may be, and give back. It will make you feel good, it will certainly look good for you (though that would be a bad reason to do it) and it would make everyone who donated feel better about the entire process. Plus, as a perk, it may shut up some of the haters you have out there - of which I am not one, just FYI ;-)
So...? What are your thoughts on Ben's Kickstarter campaign? Do you think it was a good move? Do you think he should bring a friend along? What about a blog reader? Or, perhaps you like my idea about selling the seat at auction to raise money for chairty!
**Footnote: I noted towards the beginning of this post the Etihad A380 Residences will not be attianable with miles, thought that's partially untrue. For those that can amass huge numbers of Etihad Guest miles, a one-way AUH-LHR ticket can be had for approximately 2,300,000 miles.comments powered by Disqus