By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
20 May 2015 | The massive consumer adoption of smartphones and tablets has resulted in a large number of new and established suppliers developing wireless inflight ‘intranet’ solutions that can be used as a low cost wireless inflight entertainment system, as well as for onboard retail purposes, inflight service and crew productivity.
A recent article on Runway Girl Network nicely summarizes this development: “Independently-backed IFE streaming providers are surfacing at an unprecedented rate in commercial aviation. Designed for a quick deployment, most of these new systems are being offered to airlines for free or at a fraction of cost of wireless systems from the majors.”
AirFi portable wifi
One solution that has been adopted by several airlines recently is MI Airline’s AirFi box – a compact, portable, battery-powered and self-scaling wireless local network that is not connected to the aircraft. The system is based around a small box, which can be stowed in a luggage locker – instead of having to be installed in the aircraft.
Thanks to its portability, the AirFi solution is classified as a so-called T-PED (Transmitting Personal Electronic Device) and does not require modification to the aircraft. Hence no lengthy STC (supplemental type certificate) certification is needed. “We provide the box with all the required paperwork so that the airline only needs to [advise] the authorities, change some of their security manuals and do a risk analysis,” MI Airline CEO Job Heimerikx told APEX. “The complete process takes one person two days.”
At the start of each day, AirFi boxes are placed in crew-dedicated overhead stowage bins and switched on with the push of a single button. At the end of each day, the boxes are offloaded and their batteries are charge as they synchronize wirelessly with a ‘proxy box’ on the ground. When the boxes are synchronized, content is automatically updated and user data can be saved to the airline’s own network for analysis.
Roughly the size of a shoebox and weighing 1.2 kilograms, the AirFi box runs entirely on battery power that can last up to 15 hours. Two AirFi boxes are capable of covering the entire cabin of a 180-seat B737, while three to four will be used to ensure robust service across a 280+ passenger twin-aisle jet. Read full article »
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
17 May 2015 | As the airline industry has always captured people’s imagination, airlines can tap into their local heritage to incorporate a bit of storytelling into the travel experience. Legacy carriers in particular can benefit from their ‘flag carrier’ status as a source of inspiration in designing the cabin experience, in order to move beyond the generic grey and blue environments.
KLM ‘Internationally Dutch’
A well-documented example is KLM’s ‘Internationally Dutch’ brand positioning, which has seen the airline collaborating with internationally well-known Dutch designers such as Victor&Rolf, Marcel Wanders and Hella Jongerius for respectively amenity kits, tableware and seat and interior design. According to KLM, customers have indicated that they appreciate KLM’s typically Dutch character, so it decided to embrace Dutch Design.
Delft Blue porcelain is also part of KLM’s Dutch heritage-inspired branding. Since the 1950s, the airline has handed out small ceramic replicas of historical Dutch houses filled with ‘genever’ (a Dutch style of gin) to passengers in Business Class, which are a popular souvenir item for many passengers.
In order to bring a contemporary style to its Business Class dining, KLM in 2011 began serving meals in Business Class on both short- and long-haul flights offered on tableware designed by Marcel Wanders. The designer (of Moooi and Droog Design fame) created porcelain, glassware, cutlery, linen and a tray for the airline in his signature shapely style.
‘Tasty Blue’ catering concept
Aiming to bring a touch of design to the dining experience in Economy on long-haul flights, KLM this fall will introduce a new catering concept which it has dubbed ‘Tasty Blue’.
According to KLM, the new service is based on the concept of a ‘set table’. Says Madeleine Braun, Product Manager Economy Class Long Haul at KLM, “With the new Tasty Blue concept, KLM will set the table for passengers in Economy. And a set table should be colourful and appealing, especially given the important role of packaging today in influencing the perception and experience of consumers.” Read full article »
This case appears in the May 2015 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by airlinetrends.com and Simpliflying that identifies the latest innovative marketing capaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »
11 May 2015 | Value-based carrier Jetstar featured strongly on an April episode of the popular Australian competitive cooking show My Kitchen Rules, which presents teams of wannabe chefs squaring-off in culinary challenges that test teamwork, creativity and prowess in the kitchen.
In the episode airing April 13th, six duelling culinary teams found themselves in a hangar at Sydney Airport, gathered round a 787 Dreamliner in Jetstar’s bold black and orange livery.
The day’s challenge? To prepare an inflight meal for a plane full of hungry passengers that looked delicious, tasted great and fit into Jetstar’s signature back meal box… all in just 90 minutes. The prize? Victors would not only dodge elimination by securing passenger votes, but would also have their creation become the celebrity pre-order meal option on all Jetstar flight over 5.5 hours between April 14 and July 14 of this year.
In addition to enjoying significant brand exposure throughout the hour-long primetime reality show, Jetstar received plenty of coverage from other media outlets. The story was picked up and shared through social media by mainstream media such as the Sydney Morning Herald, advertising sources like B&T, and entertainment blogs including Sydney Confidential.
Morning talk show Sunrise even had its own correspondent and TV cameras on board to taste the different offerings.
The day after the show aired, Jetstar erected pop-up kitchens in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth that let the general public to try out its latest pre-order option. A Jetstar-produced video illustrating how the dish is prepared has been viewed nearly 1,500 times so far.
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
5 May 2015 | Back in 1973, Domino’s Pizza introduced a guarantee that customers would receive their pizzas within 30 minutes of placing an order or they would receive the pizzas free. Over the years, Domino’s reduced this service guarantee to the slogan “You Got 30 Minutes,” alluding to the earlier pledge but stopping short of promising delivery in half an hour. Instead, the company introduced the Domino’s Pizza Tracker, an app and Web-based widget that lets customers check on the pizza they have ordered at every stage, providing real-time information that relieves anxiety.
Delta ‘Track My Bags’
Taking a cue from the pizza delivery business, Delta in 2011 became the first airline to make the baggage process more transparent for passengers by launching its ‘Track Checked Bags’ service.
Since bag tags are scanned during each part of the journey by airlines, Delta’s service lets passengers track their baggage in real-time as it makes its way through the Delta system, providing them with some peace of mind when they learn their luggage has been loaded onto their flight.
Available for domestic flights, Delta passengers can go online to track their checked baggage with the bag tag number they received at the time of baggage check-in. Passengers can use the ‘Track My Bag’ functionality on the Delta mobile app to scan their baggage tag with their smartphone camera.
And, as Delta has equipped its entire domestic fleet with GoGo’s in-flight Internet, passengers can even check up in the air whether their bag has made it on their flight using the free access to delta.com and the mobile app.
Surprisingly, Delta’s ‘Track My Bags’ service hasn’t been introduced by any other airline so far, who are clearly less willing to share this kind of data with passengers. The fast developments in digital luggage tags (a.k.a. ‘The Connected Bag’) will no doubt change this status quo though. Read full article »
By Malgorzata Lach, smartaer.com
1 May 2015 | Obeying restrictions and rules put upon passengers by safety regulators and airlines is unavoidable in air travel. The nature of regulations can also vary, making it harder for the travelling public to get their travels organized. Furthermore, some of the limitations come up unexpectedly for inexperienced travellers and require immediate reaction.
In response, a few forward-looking airports in Northern Europe decided to turn things around and change those unanticipated situations into positive outcomes.
Overweight Baggage Dropp Point (Rygge Airport, Norway)
One rule that certainly affects the majority of the travelling public is the baggage weight limit. When dealing with an overweight bag issue, some passengers decide to stick to their plans and pay the additional charges in order to check in what they have packed, while others go through their suitcases and remove the stuff they need the least. In the worst case they will have to dump some of their belongings in a waste bin at the airport.
To ease the pain of leaving ones personal possessions behind, Fretex – a Norwegian chain of second hand stores that is run by the Salvation Army – came up with a creative solution. The charity organization partnered with Moss Rygge Airport, which is located 60 kilometres from Oslo, Norway, to install an ‘Overweight Baggage Drop Point’.
Consisting of a weighing scale and an used clothing container, the dedicated area allows travellers drop off their clothes to avoid extra charges and at the same time do something good by donating them to those in need. Video of how the charity service works here. Read full article »
By Marisa Garcia, Flight Chic
24 April 2015 | Rapidly evolving alternatives to traditional inflight entertainment systems, smarter seat designs and a redefined premium cabin were top themes at this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo 2015 in Hamburg, the aircraft cabin show of shows.
Airlines are eager to make the most of potential revenue space on their planes, while air travelers dread crowded cabins. To resolve this tension, airlines need to draw attention away from the pain of the cabin crunch—especially in Economy.
Technology now takes centre stage in Hamburg as inflight connectivity and entertainment offer passengers productivity, emotional comfort, or at least distraction. This technology is a major capital investment, but vendors are introducing solutions which make these IFE technologies more affordable—even a potential source of revenue and a way to optimize operations.
As airlines step-up the rollout of in-flight connectivity, Panasonic Avionics Corporation celebrated the 700th installation of its eXConnect in-flight Wi-Fi system at the show. The company provides a suite of options which combine in-seat entertainment with global coverage of Ku-band satellite broadband Wi-Fi and 3G services for internet, text and telephony through AeroMobile.
Panasonic also announced that Asia’s largest airline, China Southern, chose its hybrid eXO IFE solution for its narrowbody fleet of A320s and A321s. The eXO system lets airlines mix and match Full HD overhead video and in-seat audio, seat-back Audio-Video On Demand (AVOD), and wireless streaming to passenger devices. This flexibility lets airlines configure entertainment on the aircraft by sections, to suit their product strategy. It lowers costs, reduces weight, and allows easy upgrades when airlines chose to update cabins.
Wireless in-flight entertainment (wIFE) has proven successful where installing embedded in-flight entertainment is impractical. It can also complement existing embedded IFE systems.
Gate-to-gate usage of in-seat tablets
Lufthansa Systems’ BoardConnect solution offers a rich user interface for entertainment and connectivity directly streamed to passengers’ personal electronic devices. The company has developed an in-seat product which fits consumer tablets on a frame added to the seat-back.
Read full article »
airlinetrends.com founder Raymond Kollau and LIFT Strategic Design founder Daniel Baron will be present at the upcoming Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg from 13 to 15 April. Please contact Raymond at info [at] airlinetrends [dot] com if you would like to meet, or download our PAXEX360 workshop brochure.
Fierce competition, rapid evolution of technology, shorter product life cycles, and ever evolving customer expectations are forcing airlines to take a 360º view of the passenger experience in order to differentiate themselves, whether they are a full-service, hybrid or low-cost carrier.
airlinetrends.com (Amsterdam) and LIFT Strategic Design (Tokyo) have joined forces to provide airlines with on-site PAXEX360 workshop sessions that explore trends in the airline passenger experience, followed by interactive discussions where key staff identify priorities for future product, service and brand development.
FROM TRENDS TO PRODUCT AND SERVICE INNOVATION
This partnership provides airlines with a service that combines an understanding of the big ‘PAXEX’ picture with expertise in creating design solutions and thinking through the implications.
The PAXEX360 workshops provide participants with:
– a better insight into consumer/passenger trends and needs
– a quick way to understand the latest product and service industry standards and innovations
– an effective platform for identifying key strategic objectives and priorities in further developing the passenger experience
Combining airlinetrends.com’s expertise in passenger experience research with LIFT Strategic Design’s expertise in concept development and implementation, the PAXEX360 workshops consist of two elements:
1. OVERVIEW OF THE LATEST TRENDS AND INNOVATIONS » Who is doing what, where, and why?
This session familiarizes airline management with passenger experience trends throughout the world in every phase of the customer journey – from design and technology to marketing and service delivery – and is illustrated with many recent innovations from airlines around the world.
2. IN-DEPTH INTERACTIVE DISCUSSION » Where do we go from here?
Faciltated by LIFT Strategic Design founder Daniel Baron and airlinetrends.com founder Raymond Kollau, key representatives from your company explore customer experience development in the context of the trends discussed, identifying target areas for future action. Read full article »
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
25 March 2015 | As cabin interior upgrade cycles are becoming shorter, airlines around the world are working hard to keep up with this ‘arms race’ by introducing bigger and better premium seats, as well as smarter and lighter designs in Economy.
At the same time airlines are coming up with creative ways to improve the ‘softer’ service elements of the inflight experience. For example, as full-flat beds have now become the industry standard in Business Class, airlines are looking for ways to differentiate the premium passenger experience by ‘dreaming up’ service touches that improve the chance passengers can enjoy a good night of sleep onboard.
Examples include Virgin Atlantic’s Snooze Zone and Delta’s partnership with Westin Hotels. Qantas, meanwhile, has introduced what it calls ‘Business Suites’ on its A330s that let passengers recline from the moment they board until touchdown at their destination.
SAS A330 Business Class
Following years of restructuring in order to create a competitive cost platform, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has recently introduced its first refurbished A330 aircraft. Similar to Aer Lingus’ new A330 Business Class – which offers passengers a well thought-out combination of product and service innovations – SAS’ new premium cabin shows how carriers with a relatively limited long-haul network can respond to the passenger experience standards set by airlines from the Gulf and Asia.
SAS’ new business class cabin features Thomson’s Vantage XL seats – which have currently only been installed by one other airline, Qantas. Designed by UK-based FactoryDesign, the seats are a modern interpretation of Scandinavian design, including metallic edging, gold accents and electric blue in-seat lighting.
As Jonny Clark from TheDesignair puts it nicely: “With touch points of wooden veneer, dark charcoal fabrics with topstitching and electric blue details, the designers have gone for a mix of business elegance with contemporary cool.” Read full article »
This article first appeared on TheDesignAir
19 March 2015 | Brussels Airlines and The Hergé Foundation ‘Moulinsart’ have unveiled an Airbus A320 with a livery inspired by the world famous Belgian cartoon character Tintin. Both Belgian companies have worked several months on this unique project, based on the original drawings by the hand of Hergé.
Move over Shamu (Southwest’s Seaworld livery), the result is a 37m long black shark, based on Professor Calculus’ shark submarine from the Tintin adventure, Red Rackham’s Treasure (image). The aircraft was baptized ‘Rackham’. On the fuselage we read: “We fly you to the home of Tintin.”
Mirroring the designs within Brussels Airlines’ new lounge in Brussels Airport, Tintin – the historical Belgian character created by Hergé, who travels the world on adventurous quests – continues his role as the airline’s travel partner.
This is the first time Belgian cartoonist Hergé been translated onto the fuselage of an aircraft. Hergé himself was fascinated by planes. They are the most used means of transportation in the Tintin oeuvre and they were always drawn with great technical precision.
For the painting of the aircraft, Brussels Airlines worked with aircraft paint artist Andre Eisele, who had the challenging task to adapt the perspective of the drawings prepared by Moulinsart’s graphic designers to the unusual curves of an aircraft fuselage, to get as close to the original shark submarine design as possible. The entire paint job took 1500 man hours in total and even extends to the bulkhead design inside the aircraft (video here). Read full article »
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
14 March 2015 | In many Asian cities, smart cards – prepaid rechargeable contactless payment cards – are a common phenomenon. For example, in Hong Kong, consumers use the Octopus smart card to make electronic payments offline and online. Launched in 1997 to collect fares for the territory’s mass transit system, the Octopus card is the second largest contactless smart card system in the world, after South Korea’s Upass, and has also led to the development of London’s Oyster Card.
Many smartcards in East Asia have a wide variety of uses. For example, besides public transportation fees, the Octopus can also be used for payments in many retail shops in Hong Kong – from convenience stores, supermarkets, fast-food restaurants, parking meters to vending machines. Other systems, such as Suica in Japan, EasyCard in Taipei and EZ-Link in Singapore, can also been used for many non-transportation purposes.
Now, two airlines in Asia are allowing passengers to make in-flight payments with the same smart cards they use to make everyday payments on the ground.
HK Express x Octopus Card
Hong Kong-based low-cost carrier HK Express recently partnered with Octopus Cards to launch an in-flight Octopus-based payment service. Passengers on all HK Express flights can use their regular Octopus card to purchase in-flight items, including food, beverages, discounted transportation and event tickets, and onboard upgrades for HK Express’ extra legroom ‘sweet seats’.
To accommodate the Octopus card, HK Express obtained new payment terminals with Octopus’ sensor technology. To make a payment, passengers simply hold their card near the sensor and within seconds the payment is made.
Commenting on the initiative, HK Express Deputy CEO Andrew Cowen stated, “Octopus is part of the fabric of Hong Kong life and transportation. HK Express is proud to be the first Hong Kong-based airline in bringing this much-loved Hong Kong icon into the skies, offering our guests the ultimate on-board ease and convenience.” Read full article »
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
6 March 2015 | We have reported several times before how airlines target the rapidly growing middle classes in emerging markets in innovative ways. For example, in Brazil TAM sells tickets via kiosks located at low-end retail chains and at subway stations. The airline also allows customers to pay their ticket in multiple installments and provides ‘how to fly’ advice to first-time flyers.
In East Africa, airlines such as Kenya Airways and Uganda Airlines have partnered with ‘mobile money’ providers like M-PESA and Airtel Money to allow people without a bank account to purchase air tickets via their mobile phone, while in the Philippines, Phillipine Airlines lets customers without a credit card book their ticket online and then pay at a nearby 7 Eleven store.
Another airline that has come up with creative ideas to accommodate the large group of first-time flyers is Chinese low-cost carrier Spring Airlines.
Spring Airlines has trialled a new boarding strategy by using fruit signs to guide passengers – especially those who travel by air for the first time – as seat numbers can be hard to find and can be confusing for those who have little experience in travelling by air.
During the Chinese New Year travel season Spring Airlines was expecting a large number of novice passengers and the airline used a visual solution to help passengers find their seats more quickly and and ease congestion in the aisles.
On February 11, passengers on flight 9C8881 between Shanghai and Shenzhen found 4 different fruit signs printed on their boarding passes which corresponded to the seats in four sections – rows 1-2 (blueberry), rows 3-12 (kiwi), rows 13-21 (apple) and rows 22-33 (tangerine). Read full article »
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
2 March 2015 | The airline industry is one of the leading sectors [infographic] in deploying Twitter and Facebook for customer care. In China – where Twitter and Facebook are blocked – social media platforms such as Sina Weibo (a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook) and WeChat (messaging app) are commonly used by Chinese and foreign carriers for customer service.
Meanwhile, airlines such as ANA and THAI are present on messaging platform LINE – which is popular in Japan – while a few airlines, including Royal Jordanian, Royal Air Brunei, Jetstar and Chinese low-cost carrier Spring Airlines, also use Skype for customer care.
The latest communication platform to be used for online customer service is WhatsApp. In October 2014, WhatsApp was the most globally popular messaging app with more than 600 million active users, followed by China’s WeChat (468 million active users), Viber (209 million active users, and Japan’s LINE (170 million active users), while over 100 million people use South Korea’s KaKaoTalk. In January 2015, WhatsApp reported surpassing 700 million users. WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in February 2014 for USD 19 billion.
Transavia x WhatsApp
Now Dutch low-cost carrier Transavia, a subsidiary of Air France-KLM, has become the first airline to integrate WhatsApp into its webcare channels, which also include Twitter and Facebook.
Customers can ask questions via the messaging app, such as making inquiries about an existing booking, how to check in online or hand luggage rules. Transavia says it aims to respond to questions within an hour and the airline can be reached via Whatsapp 7 days a week between 8am and 10pm.
Says Roy Scheerder, commercial director at Transavia, “We want everyone to make it as easy as possible to get in touch with Transavia. We see WhatsApp as nice addition to the already existing possibilities such as Facebook and Twitter.” […] “Because of the accessibility of WhatsApp customers expect an even quicker reaction than via Twitter and Facebook.” Read full article »
This article first appeared on Future Travel Experience
22 February 2015 | JetBlue has become the first airline to accept payments via Apple Pay for onboard purchases, including certain food and beverage products and ‘Even More Space’ seat upgrades. Passengers with an iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, or an Apple Watch – which will be launched in the US shortly – will be able to make use of Apple Pay, which offers secure, Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled contactless payment using an Apple device.
Commenting on the development, Marty St George, SVP Commercial at JetBlue said the carrier has decided to embrace Apple Pay in response to the fact that “customers want an easy and fast transaction when they decide to make an on-board purchase so that they can get back to enjoying their flight.”
Apple Pay began appearing on select JetBlue transcontinental flights from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco in mid-February and will be available on all JetBlue services by June 2015. Later this year, Apple Pay will also be added to JetBlue’s app.
To enable Apple Pay onboard, JetBlue has equipped more than 3,500 flight attendants with iPad minis and NFC-enabled cases. The iPad minis will also be loaded with the carrier’s Inflight Service Assistant app, which provides access to customer manifest and real-time flight data, and also makes its easier for crew to identify TrueBlue and Mosaic loyalty members.
“JetBlue has always stood out because our crewmembers care about our customers,” said Joanna Geraghty, Executive Vice President, Customer Experience, JetBlue. “By giving crewmembers thoughtful ways to use technology, we can support an even more personalised onboard experience with a perfect partnership of high tech and high touch.”
Video of how paying using Apple Pay on JetBlue flights works here.
By Kai-Chin Shih, >talkairlines
15 February 2015 | As airlines around the world are currently in the process of developing an digital inflight infrastructure (e.g, Internet connectivity, aircraft intranet, inflight portal) and the latest generation of in-seat IFE systems has adopted the Android platform, the next phase for airlines is to develop innovative applications that differentiaite to the passenger experience.
For example, on the IFE system of its new B787 Dreamliners, Air New Zealand and Panasonic have created a ‘digital crew call button’ app that lets passengers message the crew, as well as a dedicated digital button to order a glass of water and have it brought to their seat.
Similar functionality has now also been rolled out by China Eastern – China’s second largest carrier by passenger numbers. The airline is not using the seat back IFE system, though, but has partnered with Microsoft to develop an airline-specific version of Microsoft’s ‘XiaoIce’ (東航小冰) intelligent personal assistant.
Intelligent Personal Assistants
‘XiaoIce’ – which translated a ‘Little Ice’ – is an intelligent personal assistant (IPA) launched by Microsoft in 2014. IPAs are software programs that can complete tasks assigned by the user or provide answers to users’ questions.
Currently, the most widely known IPA is Apple’s Siri, which uses voice recognition to send messages, make calls and obtain answers to simple questions, such as those related to the weather and historical facts, on behalf of users.
Microsoft also has developed its own IPAs, respectively called Cortana and XiaoIce. While Cortana provides functions similar to that of Siri and can only be accessed through Windows-based devices, XiaoIce has been developed to be used on social media sites such as Sina Weibo, can be used virtually anywhere. XiaoIce learns from not only past conversations with the user but also those from all around China. With these resources, it can engage in very life-like conversations and has a bit of a funny character of its own. Read full article »
This case appears in the February 2015 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by airlinetrends.com and Simpliflying that identifies the latest innovative marketing capaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »
13 February 2015 | To raise awareness in the Asia Pacific region of the new cabins on its B777s, Air France has developed a mobile game called Cloud Slicer, which allows travellers to compete for an instant upgrade on their flights.
This game was first launched at Singapore Changi and Osaka Kansai airport in late 2014 when passengers were handed tablets and encouraged to play Cloud Slicer, where they had to swipe the screen to cut up clouds and compete for high scores.
More than 400 passengers in the boarding gates participated in the 15-minute game. Scores were displayed in real-time on three larger screens located at the boarding gates. 15 lucky top scorers in Singapore and six in Osaka were instantly upgraded to Business Class on their flight and received their new boarding passed from the pilot himself. Video of the event here.
From January 19 2015, the competition has been extended to a regional level. All Air France passengers flying from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia or Japan can download the game (iOS or Android) and compete against each other. The best scorers of the month in each country will have the chance to be upgraded on their next flight to Paris.
Three top scorers were picked on January 31st and another three will be selected on February 27th to win free upgrades on their upcoming flights. The contest is only open to ticket holders who will travel between February 15 and December 31, 2015 and is based on seat availability on the travel date.