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Joon Airbus A321 taxiing to the gate in Berlin Tegel (Photo: AirlineGeeks | James Dinsdale)

Opinion: Please No More Flying Rooftop Bars

Joon, the Air France experiment at courting millennials, has been in the news thrice so far. The first time was in June 2017 when the concept was announced, whereas the second was when operations began in December 2017. Finally, the third announcement arrived this month when Air France announced that Joon would be absorbed back into Air France.

From the beginning, this airline proved to be a head-scratcher. It wasn’t an airline in the traditional sense; Joon was marketed as a brand, set to encompass fashion, rooftop bars, and other things millennials like. It mine as well have included avocado toast, too.

The Confusion of Joon

At first, many news writers, including myself, assumed the announcement was some sort of joke. Unfortunately, it indeed was not an April Fool’s joke as it was announced in June. Alas, Joon was a reality.

Uniforms for flight attendants were made from 60 percent recycled plastics, much to the joy of polyester clothing lovers and environmentalists everywhere. Craft beer, likely filled with obscene amounts of hops, were loaded onto freshly painted aircraft, rooftop bars to some, in Joon livery. Accompanying this were organic food and drink galore.

All of this to swoon millennials into the liking the aesthetic and somehow flying the airline, which operationally was as poorly planned out as the entire millennial-serving concept. It was Air France’s attempt at creating a low-cost carrier like the other large European carriers were trying to do. However, cost savings weren’t as exciting as initially expected, with Joon pilots being paid the same as Air France pilots and only flight attendants being hired for lower wages.

Millennials Aren’t Special After All

In the end, the experiment failed and it taught us a valuable lesson. As empty headed as millennials are, cheap gimmicks won’t work to win them over. Millennials aren’t some new breed that every company needs to bend over backwards to accommodate. They are really no different than baby boomers or any other generation.

The gimmicks don’t work. Hardly anyone is going to choose an airline because their business class offers virtual reality headsets. If Air France just went with a straight attempt at a low-cost carrier instead of a half fleshed out concept, it would’ve saved the airline time and money, potentially resulting in a successful, low-cost arm.  

There was genuinely no need for the airline, and it ended up being a case for solutionism. This type of valueless marketing has been pushed by a generation out of touch. While experiences are valued by millennials, putting that onto an airline where no one was really looking for one created an amalgamation of things that just don’t mix.

I’m all for an airline differentiating itself in a unique way, but it really needs to be something meaningful. The flying rooftop bar doesn’t cut it. It wasn’t compelling enough for someone to make a conscious decision for someone to pick a particular airline. That’s where the airline ultimately failed: there simply wasn’t a good reason to go out of your way to fly Joon.

Hopefully, this makes businesses think twice about their plans to cater to millennials. We all know that what we really need is a flying craft brewery called Hoppy; Lufthansa, take notice.   

Hemal Gosai
Hemal Gosai
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