Panasonic’s Waterfront concept suite lets passengers customize their inflight experience with their smartphone

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

In a time when the personal device (smartphone, tablet) is becoming the digital controller of just about every surrounding device (think Sonos, Google Chromecast, or Philips Hue), Panasonic’s new Waterfront concept seat – unveiled at last month’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas – demonstrates ‘the art of possible’ when the personal devices gets integrated with the aircraft seat.

The Waterfront seat is the result of a partnership between Panasonic, B/E Aerospace, Formation Design Group and TEAGUE and follows last year’s JAZZ IFE/seat Economy concept.

Holistic experience
According to Panasonic, the objective with the new seat is to “take care of a passenger’s wellbeing in a more holistic way.” Using B/E Aerospace’s Super Diamond seat as platform, the Waterfront seat features a full privacy door, which “gives a First-Class feel within the confines of a Business Class footprint,” as RGN puts it.

Other features of the Waterfront include customizable LED lighting (the interface has been coupled to hundreds of individually controllable full spectrum LEDs across the entire seat) and climate controls that adjust the temperature in the suite. Passengers can recharge their devices using one of the AC and USB ports or just place it on a wireless inductive charging panel.

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Personal device as remote controller
The centerpiece of the Waterfront suite though is a 24-inch high-definition 4K touchscreen monitor placed in a seamless edge-to-edge glass structure, which can connect to a passenger’s smartphone app.

According to Australian Business Traveler passengers will be able to control the in-flight entertainment system AND the suite’s environment from their phone or from a supplied 7″ tablet.

The integration of the personal device and the Waterfront tech system is done via a technology called ‘light ID’, which has been developed by Panasonic and which uses a LED as the light source so that smartphones can read optical ID signals containing various kinds of information. According to Panasonic, the airline would provide the wireles controller application for passengers to download. Read full article »

SWISS adds a creative touch to the galley areas on its new B777-300ERs

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

SWISS just took delivery of its first new B777-300ER aircraft. One of the things we like about SWISS’ new flagship interior is the creative touch that the airline and design agency Priestmangoode have added to the galley areas.

Welcome Onboard
On most widebody aircraft, the first impressions passengers get when entering the aircraft at the so-called ‘door 2’ is the sight of an industrial-looking galley area. In an effort to create a more welcoming environment, a growing number of airlines are adding design touches to this door 2 area.

As aviation journalist Marisa Garcia from FlightChic puts it: “Of course, airlines still buy the generic and utilitarian galleys, but the trend is towards cabin monuments serving a second life as welcome zones or customer social areas, at least for wide-body aircraft. Beyond looking pretty, putting this functional space to work as an element of the passenger experience is smart design thinking.”

Recent examples include Finnair, which for its new A350s has come up with a clever (and economic) solution by installing galley screens that are lowered when passengers are boarding and which feature a striking photo of Finland’s nature.

On the other end, Etihad has gone all out with the creation of a ‘welcome lobby’ on its A380s, which features dark wood fretwork panels, screens and doors and recreates the feeling of entering a boutique hotel.

SWISS, meanwhile has added rollable screens that cover the working areas in the galley and the galley walls feature an illuminated welcome panel, as well as an illuminated world map in an oak wood finish. According to the airline it has treated the entrance to its new B777-300ER “like a reception with a welcoming entrance that that mirrors that in the reception of the SWISS lounges at Zurich airport.” Read full article »

JetBlue to install connected in-seat IFE ‘experience’ across A320 fleet

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By Ryan Ghee, Future Travel Experience

JetBlue has announced a major A320 cabin restyling, which will include the introduction of what it calls a “fully connected in-seat experience.” New 10-inch, high-definition, Internet-enabled in-flight entertainment (IFE) screens, more than 100 live television channels and in-seat power outlets and USB ports are among the key features.

Android-based ‘connected’ IFE
JetBlue becomes the first airline to sign up for the new streaming television IFE system from Thales – called STV+ – which is built on the Google Android platform. The carrier said in a release this opens “unlimited possibilities for custom app and widget development, live content streaming, audio-and-video-on-demand, and personal device pairing.” In addition, the IFE system offers access to content stored locally on the aircraft.

The new IFE experience represents a major upgrade to the existing standard-definition, 5.6-inch screens and 36 channels of live DirecTV that can currently be found on JetBlue’s A320s.

Passengers will also have gate-to-gate access to the Fly-Fi connectivity service, meaning they can browse the Web and even stream movies on Amazon Prime before and during take-off and after landing.

The cabin redesign will also incorporate a number of features introduced on the A321s in 2014, including the B/E Aerospace Pinnacle seats with moveable headrests and LED cabin lighting. The reconfigured A320s will feature 162 seats – 12 more than at present – but the carrier will maintain a 33-inch pitch. Airbus’ Space-Flex v2 galley and lavatory module will also be introduced on the A320 and A321 all-core aircraft. Read full article »

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Boeing’s next-gen mood lighting uses light projection to animate the aircraft cabin

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

With mood lighting now being a standard feature on new aircraft deliveries, several airlines have also started to retrofit LED lighting into their older cabins. Furthermore, besides taking a ‘generic’ approach towards mood lighting – that is, recreating sunset on evening flights and sunrise in the morning – airlines are also looking to extend their brand inside the cabin by developing signature lighting schemes.

Examples of airlines that have taken a forward-looking approach to mood-lighting include Icelandair and Finnair, who have developed custom Northern Lights scenes that pulls in shades of blue and green that dance through the cabin. Virgin America is known for its iconic purple and red mood lighting, while sister airline Virgin Atlantic has given its various mood lighting settings names like ‘rose champagne’, ‘purple haze’ and ‘amber warmth’.

Says Daniel Baron, founder of Tokyo-based design agency LIFT Strategic Design, “Airlines should use mood lighting as an integral part of the brand presentation, or as association with origin. As the systems become more sophisticated and available on more aircraft as line-fit items, more meaningful differentiation with the lighting, i.e., not just as a novelty, will become the norm.”

Next-generation mood lighting and projection
A new video from Boeing – who made mood lighting one of the prominent cabin features of its 787 Dreamliner and 737 Sky Interior – shows how cabin lighting is further evolving beyond mood lighting to include project technology and high-definition animations that bring the cabin to life.

“Airlines could use these lighting enhancements on the walls and bulkheads to display information about the destination or to project scenes that get passengers thinking about where they’re going,” said Mike Sinnett, Boeing’s VP of Product Development. “These ceiling projections could be scenes found in nature or helpful information for passengers projected on the walls and bulkheads,” he said. “The possibilities are endless about how this technology could be used.” Read full article »

Qantas Frequent Flyer launches health insurance; members can earn miles by excercising

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Many airline passengers lament the traditional loyalty program format, which has become somewhat antiquated and can take forever to produce any useable benefit. But in a new loyalty tie-up with Aussie health insurance provider nib, Qantas is demonstrating that it understands how to engage people in a digital world.

Beginning later this year, Qantas Frequent Flyer program members can purchase Qantas Assure, a range of health insurance products powered by nib. Those who sign up can also earn Qantas Points faster than with flying alone, because they will collect points for achieving fitness goals.

Mobile app
Qantas Assure customers will be able to download an app to a number of different wearable and mobile devices.

Using the app, members will be able to choose from a variety of daily or weekly targets depending on their lifestyles, with the number of frequent flyer points earned increasing with the size of the target. The app will monitor (by counting steps, for example) the customer as he or she progresses through the challenge and reward completion with Qantas Points that can be used on flights, upgrades, hotels, car hire, at the Qantas store, and more.

Eventually, points will be able to be earned for other forms of physical activity beyond walking and running. Qantas says its Assure plan will start with health insurance, but will expand to other types of insurance in future.

Popularity of fitness trackers
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Qantas said there were estimates around one-quarter of Australians now own a fitness tracker, but fewer than one in five Australians took the recommended 10,000 steps per day.

Qantas Loyalty chief executive Lesley Grant said the idea behind Qantas Assure came from members saying they wanted to be rewarded for leading a more active lifestyle. About half of those polled during research said they would be more active if they were rewarded. Read full article »

Airlines and airports let passengers pre-order food via mobile apps

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This article also appeared in the December/January 2016 edition of Onboard Hospitality Magazine.

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Consumer behavior is changing. Smartphones make it quick and hassle-free to order goods online, or flag a taxi via Uber. This always-on, on-demand economy has generated a sense of entitlement to fast, simple, and efficient experiences as it taps into consumers’ appetite for greater convenience, speed, and simplicity. For example, analysis from Uber shows the longer Uber has been in a city, the less willing to wait for a car everyone becomes.

In the food and beverage industry, ordering and paying for food and beverages via tablet devices has become the new normal at casual dining chains such as Applebees and Chili’s across the USA, while airport restaurateur OTG has installed thousands of food-ordering iPads at half a dozen U.S. airports.

And a growing number of airlines – including Virgin America, Air New Zealand, Norwegian, Azul and Finnair – allow passengers to order meals, snacks and drinks via the IFE system in between regular meal services, while passengers onboard leisure carrier TUI Netherlands can order drinks and duty free via their own smartphone.

Skipping the queue
Saving consumers even more time, Starbucks this fall rolled out an order-ahead mobile application across all of its 7,000 stores in the USA, as well as across 150 Starbucks locations in London. As soon as people have ordered, the app gives them an approximate pickup time, and Starbucks estimates customers can save between 10 and 15 minutes using this option. A similar service is being tested by fast food chains McDonalds and Wendy’s.

At multiple airports in the USA, passenger can pre-order meals from airport restaurants, using mobile apps such as Grab, AirGrub and HMS Hosts’ B4 You Board, which saves them having to queue up for food and drinks, and provides some peace of mind for those who are running late for their flight.

Passengers using these pre-order apps select an airport restaurant, place an order, pay and schedule a time to pick up their meal. When they arrive at the restaurant in the departure hall the freshly made meal is waiting to be collected. Orders can be placed days in advance, or even when passengers are queuing at the security checkpoint. Read full article »

10 interesting airline passenger experience innovations launched in 2015

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At airlinetrends.com we continuously monitor the global aviation industry for product and service innovations launched by airlines in response to cultural, technological, and economic changes that influence airline customers’ needs and expectations.

The top product and service innovations we have selected to be among the most innovative concepts that have been launched this year reflect how airlines are becoming more creative in the design of new products and services as more airlines are embrading hospitality, design and technology as ways to differentiate the passenger experience.

Many of the examples on our list contain a major digital component, as the rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets, the option to be connected anywhere and anytime, and the self-service mindset of connected travellers, has created a huge momentum for airlines to come up with innovative products and services.

THE AIRLINETRENDS.COM TOP 10 INNOVATIONS FOR 2015

1. Netflix and Amazon inflight streaming deals are further proof of an IFEC revolution

By enabling passengers to stream content from Netflix and Amazon Prime onboard respectively Virgin America and JetBlue, satellite company ViaSat is also putting pressure on the current IFE content supply chain. ViaSat’s Don Buchman explained: “There was evolution happening and now it’s revolution. It’s similar to how the iPhone changed the mobile market. Amazon and Netflix are not traditional IFE players, but things are changing.” Read article »

2. Ryanair wants to become the ‘Amazon of travel’

Ryanair said it wants to become the ‘Amazon for travel’, with its new website to leverage personal data to offer customers hotel bookings and TripAdvisor-style reviews. Says Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary, “We now have an opportunity with the new website to build Ryanair.com not just as the airline’s website but as a kind of Amazon for travel in Europe.” Read article »

3. KLM’s Happy Flow shows the future of the airport passenger process

KLM’s ‘Happy Flow’ aims to revolutionize the airport process and uses facial recognition technology as the basis of a single passenger token, removing the need for passengers to present their passport and boarding pass at multiple stages of the airport journey. Read article »

4. Finnair’s new A350 features a host of innovative passenger experience elements

Finnair has been the first European airline to take delivery of the A350 and has come up with a series of innovative features, such as a ‘Space Alive’ mood lighting concept, a ladies-only lavatory and free wifi in Business, duty free pre-ordering via the inflight portal and an IFE-based visual ‘flight stages’ timeline. Read article »

5. Brazilian ‘value carrier’ Azul goes long-haul with full-flat Business beds, SkySofas, walk-up bar and IFE-based ordering

Brazil’s Azul, which can be regarded as the Brazilian equivalent of JetBlue, recently launched its new A330 cabin, which includes a fully fledged Business Class cabin, Sky Sofas in Economy, a walk-up bar, and the option to order F&B via the in-seat IFE system. Read article »

6. TUI lets passengers order F&B and duty free inflight via their own devices

Netherlands-based leisure carrier Arke (part of the TUI Group) has launched a trial in which passengers can use their own devices to order beverages, snacks and duty free items. Cabin crew receive the orders made by passengers on their tablet devices. Read article »

7. Transavia lets passengers download IFE content to their own devices pre-flight

Transavia allows passengers to download movies and TV programmes to their own electronic devices before their flight. As soon as the passenger boards the aircraft, the pre-downloaded content is activated and it is then automatically deleted at the end of the journey. Read article »

8. Pre-ordering of food and beverages is getting more popular with airlines and airports

In today’s always-on, on-demand economy the notion of pre-ordering food and beverages has evolved from a rather dull thing to do towards a smart move that is about convenience and getting the things you way you want. Examples from forward-looking airlines and airport F&B outlets. Read article »

9. China Eastern trials ‘intelligent personal assistant’ for in-flight service

China Eastern has launched an airline-specific version of Microsoft’s ‘XiaoIce’ – an intelligent personal assistant – which on Wi-Fi equipped aircraft allows passengers to socialize with other passengers, contact the crew (who are equipped with tablets) and send post-arrival pick-up reminders to people on the ground. Read article »

10. Air New Zealand lounge guests can order their favourite coffee via their smartphone

Taking a cue from Starbuck’s , Air New Zealand now lets flyers order barista-made coffee via its smartphone app the minute they walk into one of the airline’s Koru Clubs around New Zealand. Read article »

Virgin America lets people waiting at bus-stops explore its mood-lit cabin via Google Streetview

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This case appears in the upcoming December 2015 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by airlinetrends.com and Simpliflying that identifies the latest innovative marketing campaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »

Virgin America has turned bus shelters in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Washington D.C., and Chicago into digitally-immersive, out of home advertisements with the help of Google Street View. This campaign plays right into Virgin America’s popular image as the hip and edgy airline in the North American market.

The bus stops are completely covered in Virgin imagery and branding. People waiting at the special bus stops can use a huge touchscreen to navigate through one of Virgin America’s aircraft in precisely the same way they are used to doing on Google Street View (which now features similar interior views for airlines such as Emirates, Air France, British Airways and SAS).

The 360-degree virtual experience lets bus-takers explore an A320 cabin from front to back galley, and even enter the rows for a realistic “seat view.”

Virgin America has blended the visual impact of large-scale out of home advertising with the futuristic allure of digital. When trying to impress people in a world saturated with marketing messages, sometimes more is more.

Virgin America’s ‘Seat View’ can also be found on the airline’s website and is accessible through Google Maps. One simply need type in “Virgin America” plus the code of an US airport they service.

A web campaign aims to drive traffic to the new feature. Clickable banners directing people to the feature have appeared online at The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, etc.

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Finnair’s new A350 features a host of innovative passenger experience elements

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Finnair has been the first European airline to take delivery of the A350-900 and the third carrier worldwide (after Qatar Airways and Vietnam Airlines). Finnair’s 297-seat aircraft is configured in three classes with 208 seats in Economy, 43 in Economy Comfort and 46 in Business. Following a month of ‘familiarization flighs’ to European destinations, Finnair’s first A350 will begin operating long-haul routes between Helsinki and Shanghai on November 21st.

There is a lot to like about Finnair’s (and its design agency dSign Vertti Kivi & Co) approach towards designing the A350 onboard experience, which features several innovative elements.

1. Welcome Onboard: Galley Screen
On most widebody aircraft passengers enter the cabin at the so-called door 2 and often their first impression is the sights of an industrial-looking galley area. Finnair has come up with a clever (and economic) solution by installing galley screens that are lowered when passengers are boarding and which feature a striking photo.

Marisa Garcia from FlightChic summarizes it nicely: “There is a very clever introduction of Finland’s lush green nature with a calm forest image in a galley screen, which I found was an attractive detail. It helps the cabin feel fresh, quieting the disturbing visual noise of galley equipment. It’s really a very simple thing, but Finnair took the time to consider it.”

2. Mood Lighting: Northern Lights
A remarkable feature of the cabin is the dynamic mood LED lighting. When passengers board the plane, they are greeted by the sight of clouds drifting across a blue sky throughout the cabin (video), while cool Nordic blue shades resembling the Northern lights will set the mood as the plane approaches Helsinki.

In all, there are 24 lighting schemes, and for example a warm orange glow can be created to suggest an Asian ambience on flights to the Far East. Says Juha Järvinen, Finnair’s Chief Commercial Officer, “Finnair’s new Airbus aircraft feature a cabin interior largely based on the Space Alive concept developed by dSign, where the main idea is to change the mood of the cabin space as the flight progresses.”

The mood lighting is also integrated with the in-seat IFE system. Jouni Oksanen, VP Digital at Finnair tells Hangar.no, “We’ve also added a timeline for dimming of the displays. This means that during the flight the screens will adapt to the time zones the aircraft passes. When it’s night outside, it will be night on the screens so it does not light up a whole bunch of bright displays that disturbs people who want to sleep.”

3. Business Class: Ladies’ Room
Female passengers in Business Class have access to a dedicated Ladies’ Room which is stocked with cosmetics and other supplies from Finnish brand Clean (images here and here). Australian Business Traveller reports that the ladies-only lavatory will be made available to “high-flying hommes” in the event that there’s a higher than usual proportion of men to women in business class, but as a rule it will be reserved for women. Read full article »

Brazilian ‘value carrier’ Azul goes long-haul with full-flat Business beds, SkySofas, walk-up bar and IFE-based ordering

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By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

Brazil’s Azul, which can be regarded as the Brazilian equivalent of JetBlue, recently launched their new A330 cabins, which include Azul Xtra (a fully fledged Business Class cabin), Economy Xtra (including the infamous SkySofa product) and a standard Economy cabin.

Now flying to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale (Miami) from Sao Paulo’s Viracopos airport, Azul’s A330s will eventually be rolled out to potential new destinations such as New York and Madrid.

Designed with a short lead time by UK based design agency Tangerine, the cabins manage to encapsulate the Azul brand by adapting off the shelf products, and working with the manufacturers to change colour, finish and trim. As an added element of customisation, a walk up-bar has been introduced into one of the galleys to create a social space, and area to allow passengers to stretch their legs.

“Our focus for the project was to rapidly customise a catalogue version of Stelia’s Solstys business class seat and create a bar from a galley. Importantly we had to design and develop all of the colour, material & finish for the seating and cabin, to work on both the A330 retrofit and A350 line-fit aircraft.” said Martin Darbyshire, CEO of Tangerine.

Full-flat beds in Business
In Business Class, passengers are provided with all aisle access in a 1 x 2 x 1 seat configuration, with an identical hard product to those found on Etihad, Air Berlin, Iberia, Thai just to name a few. The seats convert into a full 79″ flat bed and offer a 16″ screen.

Considering Azul hadn’t offered a Business Class or long-haul product before, creating a new product from scratch could have been seen as a tricky task. “Working closely with Azuls’ brand team we were able to co-work and quickly define the right way to build on Azul’s colour palette, moving it into a more sophisticated positioning. Patterns were developed that connect to well-known icons of Brazil, such as the pattern of tiles from Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, used subtly to add a Brazilian zing to the cabin.” said Tangerine’s Derbyshire. Read full article »

Japanese LCC Peach goes low-cost with cardboard check-in kiosks

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By Ryan Ghee, Future Travel Experience

Japanese low-cost carrier Peach has unveiled its inventive new self-service check-in kiosks, which are the first airline kiosks made largely of cardboard.

Cardboard has been used for the exterior of the kiosks, making it easier for the carrier to update branding and advertising imagery, and reducing the overall manufacturing and transportation costs.

Cardboard and touch-screen displays
Peach worked with Yaneura Design on the design of the new kiosks, which are taller than the previous generation of kiosks to help them stand out in the terminal. At 32 inches, the touch-screen display is 17 inches larger than the 15-inch screen found on conventional kiosks.

The large screen can be divided into two [image], allowing the carrier to display advertising or promotional content alongside the step-by-step self-service check-in instructions. The top half of the screen can also be used to prompt passengers waiting in line to have their passport ready, to help speed up the check-in process.

To make the experience as intuitive as possible for passengers, the kiosks automatically select the language that was used at the time of booking.

80 percent cost reduction
According to the airline, when compared to the cost of manufacturing traditional check-in machines of the same size, the new check-in kiosks can be delivered at approximately 20 percent of the cost.

Five of the new kiosks have been installed in Osaka Kansai Airport’s low-cost Terminal 2.

Lufthansa airport ‘pods’ let parents record a bedtime story for their kids

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This case appears in the November 2015 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly premium report by airlinetrends.com and Simpliflying that identifies the latest innovative marketing campaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »

Stories are an important part of childhood. Not only do children learn language or lessons about how the world works, but storytelling also forms a strong bond between parents and their kids. Reading rituals are important, but working parents who travel a lot have to miss out sometimes. What if they could tell bedtime stories even though they have to catch a plane?

That’s the premise behind Lufthansa’s latest marketing campaign – called Bedtime Stories (video). The airline has installed a mobile recording studio – in the shape of a moon – at a departure gate at Frankfurt Airport, which invites parents to record their favorite bedtime story as an audio book in their own voice, and then send it their kids at home via email or text message. Children then click on the link and gets redirected to the microsite where they can download or listen directly. A second recording pod will be installed at Munich Airport as well.

If time at the gate is too short to read a whole book, there are pre-recorded audiobooks to choose from, narrated by well-known German voices, such as actor Axel Prahl. Moms and dads can add a personal good-night-wish and a photo of themselves to the story. Lufthansa has worked with several publishing companies to offer a large selection of popular children’s books to choose from.

The Bedtime Stories ‘studios’ can be found at the airports of Frankfurt and Munich from mid October through the end of the year and will be supported with traditional advertisements via social media (hashtag #LufthansaStories) and the Lufthansa’s magazines.

“Travelling is always an emotional experience: Farewell and greeting, a change of place and culture, wanderlust and homesickness,” says Alexander Schlaubitz, Head of Marketing at Lufthansa. “We want to make every passenger feel as though they are in good hands.”

Hawaiian Airlines goes boutique with new A330 Business Class

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By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

Watch out Fiji Airways, there is a new boutique airline vying for the attention of the Pacific. Hawaiian Airlines revealed their plans to install a brand new lie-flat business class product that matches international standards.

Entering the skies in 2016, the new ‘Premium Cabin’ product will offer 18 customers on each of their A330’s a new level of comfort. The 180-degree lie-flat seats were developed in partnership with Hawaiian Airlines by Optimares.

“We have designed an experience that will usher in a new era in premium service to Hawai’i, one that resulted from a thorough review of guest feedback and intensive research to develop a best-in-class product for our long haul aircraft,” said Mark Dunkerley, President and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines. “Together with our partners at Optimares and PaulWylde, we have created a truly bespoke design that delivers world-class comfort and style, while staying true to our island roots.”

The 3 rows of seats, configured in a ‘honeymoon favourite’ 2 x 2 x 2 layout will convert into 76″ long (6’4″) beds which will not only allow passengers travelling together to enjoy themselves, but with the clever inclusion of a retractable privacy screen, also offer passengers travelling alone, a modicum of privacy too.

Whilst not all passengers will benefit from all-aisle access, the seats are light-years ahead of Hawaiian’s current recliner-style seats and the space between each seat is ample enough to be able to step over your partner if situated in a window seat.

Unlike the awkward static screens found in some carriers, that making watching TV in bed virtually impossible, Hawaiian have opted for an advanced in-flight entertainment experience powered by the next generation of large-format tablets and equipped with a telescoping tablet arm that adjusts to optimize viewing angle and comfort. Read full article »

WestJet promotes its first long-haul route ‘Ricky Gervais’ style

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This case appears in the October 2015 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by airlinetrends.com and Simpliflying that identifies the latest innovative marketing campaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »

WestJet has taken inspiration from mockumentary comedy like Ricky Gervais in ‘The Office’ and ‘An Idiot Abroad,’ to create its latest 90-second spot promoting the airline’s new low-fares flights between Toronto and London.

The premise is of a long-distance romance between Dave, in England, and his girlfriend Katie, in Canada. To save money on flights to visit his sweetheart, Dave disguises himself to travel as a dog.

For most of the video Dave boasts to the camera of the genius of his scheme, but, as the video ends, the camera zooms-in on an ad in the newspaper thrown into Dave’s cage, with a printed ad of WestJet’s new GBP194 one-way fares from Gatwick to Toronto.

In a last line as heart-wrenching as it is side-splitting, Dave the Dog says: “Is that a misprint? I’m eating kibble!”

Richard Bartrem, VP marketing communications at West Jet, said the ad reflects WestJet’s “fun and friendly attitude”.

The launch of this ad follows the airline’s introduction of its new 767-300 service, with new cabins and a new logo, all in preparation WestJet’s first long-haul service.

Surprisingly, the video has just over 78,000 views on YouTube so far. In comparison, WestJet’s viral Christmas Miracle has generated over 41 million views.

This could be a simple matter of timing, or a sign that heart-strings can trump funny bones, when it comes to on-line viewership. Read full article »

Transavia lets passengers download IFE content to their own devices ahead of their flight

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By Ryan Ghee, Future Travel Experience

The discussion as to whether wireless in-flight entertainment (IFE) poses a threat to the traditional embedded screens is one that rears its head on a regular basis, but the wireless IFE providers themselves face stiff competition from a new breed of companies who see opportunities to further reshape the market, particularly on narrow-body aircraft serving short-haul routes, which have previously lacked an IFE offering.

Bring Your Own Content
Dutch LCC Transavia, for example, has partnered with a company called Piksel to allow passengers to browse movies and TV programmes, and download the content to their own electronic devices weeks, days or hours before their flight. As soon as the passenger boards the aircraft, the pre-downloaded content is activated and it is then automatically deleted at the end of the journey to satisfy the licensing laws.

“Bring your own content” is not new – there is nothing to stop a passenger renting or buying digital content and saving it on their device before travelling, as many passengers already do with their Spotify Premium account and now also Amazon Prime – but the fact that it has now been embedded into a carrier’s own IFE portfolio is certainly significant.

Roy Scheerder, Chief Commercial Officer at Transavia, explained that the Dutch low-cost carrier’s decision to adopt the IFE solution was inspired by changing consumer habits. “The way people consume media has changed rapidly in recent years and the airline industry needs to reflect this in its in-flight entertainment systems,” he said. “Our aim was to both boost the flying experience for our customers and cut the high costs of installing onboard infrastructure for video delivery.” Read full article »