Inflight Ancillaries: How airlines can monetize their inflight engagement platforms

At FTE Europe/Ancillary, AirlineTrends founder Raymond Kollau will chair the session on “The Future Of Onboard Service And Inflight Merchandising In The Connected Era,” as well as facilitate the hands-on “PAXEX360 Workshop” in wich participants will co-create innovative ideas and concepts how airlines can generate ancillary revenues inflight. Learn more » 

As ancillary revenues are on the agenda of every airline, much has been written and said about the grand vision of airlines as omni-channel retailers, in which the in-flight part is just another touchpoint in an end-to-end, personalized, seamless, digital travel eco-system.

However, as airlines are only just embarking on this merchandizing journey, we take a look at the current state of inflight retail, which sees the opening up of a cabin environment that was previously ‘closed’ because of proprietary IFE platforms and the lack of Internet connectivity.

From In-Flight Entertainment to In-Flight Engagement platforms

Android-based in-seat IFE platforms, wireless IFE, Internet connectivity, plus the large number of passengers – and increasingly cabin crew as well – that carry a digital device, provides airlines with much more control how to move beyond providing just entertainment to new opportunities to generate ancillary revenues in-flight.

Jeff Standerski from Rockwell Collins summarizes this evolution nicely: “Passengers’ expectations have evolved from a passive ‘Please entertain me’ to a proactive ‘I want to entertain myself’. Our industry needs a new term to describe a holistic experience that is equal in every way to how people leverage their devices on terra firma. The future of the passenger/cabin interaction is beyond one of mere entertainment and can be more accurately described as one of deep and ongoing engagement: In-Flight Passenger Engagement.”

A similar vision is painted by Thales CFO Fred Schreiner: “We are going to go into a period where it’s about engagement. How do we move from an in-seat system, where an airline is looking at cost line, to an in-seat solution coupled with connectivity that moves to a revenue line?” Schreiner said families will be able to plan their holidays from the seatback: booking restaurants and exploring street level views of a city’s sights.

Eventually this means that this new ‘inflight engagement platform’ – be it seatback systems, inflight wireless portals or mobile apps – will become another touchpoint in the airline travel ecosystem. Read full article »

AIX 2017: Smart design innovations to make Economy seating more comfortable

This article first appeared on Future Travel Experience (FTE)

While Business Class passengers have become used to full-flat beds, those who travel in Economy have had little to get excited about in recent times. As airlines seek to increase cabin density, many Economy passengers have seen comfort levels at best stagnate, and at worst decrease.

In-flight entertainment developments and the ongoing rollout of onboard Wi-Fi are at least helping to provide welcome distraction, but if shoulders are rubbing and legroom is limited, the Economy Class experience is unlikely to be remembered with fondness.

At the heart of the discussion about Economy Class comfort is the seat itself. Surely, if passengers have a comfortable seat, they will have a more enjoyable flight. With this simple premise in mind, FTE at the recent Aircraft Interiors Expo 2017 in Hamburg spoke to a number of aircraft seat designers and manufacturers to learn about their efforts to increase comfort across the board.

Wider Middle Seat
For example, recently we have seen several initiatives that aim to increase the popularity of the dreaded middle seat. Bombardier’s C Series aircraft (currently operated by SWISS and airBaltic) features a 3-2 configuration, with a slightly wider middle seat (19 inch vs 18.5 inches for the window and aisle seats).

Patrick Baudis, VP Marketing Bombardier Commercial Aircraft explained that feedback from airlines and passengers so far has been positive. “The wider seats are a big element that pleases the passengers. With wider seats, you can turn, you can move your legs, and that compensates for pitch to a certain extent.” Read full article »

Jeju Air offers passengers on overnight flights the option to stretch out

Moving beyond the low hanging – and very profitable – ancillary fruit of checked bags, advance seat reservations, extra legroom seats and last-minute upgrades, airlines are becoming more creative in generating revenues beyond just the ticket fare.

One way to approach ancillary innovation is to look at the different needs passengers travelling in the same class may have. For example, SWISS has recently introduced a fee to pre-reserve one of the popular solo business class seats on its A330 and B777-300ER aircraft.

In Economy, airlines are increasingly offering passengers options for more comfort at a time when seat density is increasing and load factors are high.

Empty Seat Option
South Korean low-cost carrier Jeju Air – which flies between South Korea and Japan, China, Taiwan, Guam, Saipan, The Phillipines, and Bangkok with a fleet of 26 single class B737-800s – has come up with a clever, hands-on, way to generate last-minute ancillary income, low-cost style.

About two years ago, Jeju Air introduced a ‘Side Seat’ offer, which is similar to OptionTown’s ‘Empty Seat Option’ (adopted by airlines such as AirAsia X, Vietnam Airlines and Spicejet), and lets travellers purchase one or two seats next to their own seat, in an effort to sell last-minute seat inventory.

Whereas the Empty Seat Option lets passengers purchase an option to a possible empty seat for a small fee and be notified if an empty seat is available 1 to 3 days before their flight, Jeju Air’s passengers can only book the additional seats at their departure airport on the day of the travel (up to 1 hour before boarding).

Jeju Air’s ‘Side Seats’ are priced at USD 10 for domestic routes, USD 25 on routes to and from Japan and China’s Shandong region, USD 30 on flights between South Korea and Southern China and Taipei, whereas the fee for a last minute extra seat is USD 50 on routes to and from Southeast Asia (Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand) and Oceania (Guam, Saipan). Read full article »

Emirates crew use smartphones to take Business Class passengers’ F&B orders


images by PaddleYourOwnKanoo

Staff taking drink and meal orders using a digital device is a common thing in bars and restaurants around the world. Meanwhile, casual dining restaurant chains and airport F&B operators now let customers place their orders themselves, either via a tablet provided by the restaurant or via an app on their own smartphone.

Now the airline industry is taking its first steps in this digitally-enabled F&B service. Besides the handful or airlines – including Air New Zealand, Japan Airlines, FlyDubai and Virgin America – that allow passengers to place orders via the in-seat IFE system, Emirates has recently issued so-called ‘Meal Ordering Devices’ to all its flight attendants who work in Business Class.

Meal Ordering Device (MOD)
Cabin crew recruitment portal PaddleYourOwnKanoo reports that the MOD smartphones connect to a plug-and-play WiFi router which is separate from the onboard connectivity system that passengers use.

All the smartphones (Samsung Galaxy A7) are synced to communicate with one another for the duration of the flight, don’t have a SIM card, and have been blocked from running any applications apart from the bespoke Meal Ordering app.

“The orders are taken on a hand held device and are instantly reflected on a tablet in the galley. Each order is then prepared immediately making service faster, more efficient and more personal,” said Terry Daly, Divisional Senior Vice President, Service Delivery at Emirates.

As Australian Business Traveller rightly puts it: “With as many as 76 business class passengers on an Emirates A380, the technology is proving to be a significant time-saver in keeping those premium passengers feed and watered – as well as ensuring what they’re served is precisely what they ordered, without slip-ups.” Read full article »

Lufthansa uses VR to sell last-minute upgrades to Premium Economy at the gate

Airlines are becoming more creative in selling ancillary services to passengers in order to increase revenues per seat. For example, many airlines today offer passengers the option to place their bids in a blind auction for an upgrade to a premium seat, while airlines such as KLM and Emirates invite passengers to contact the tablet-equipped crew if they want upgrade to another cabin at the very last minute onboard.

Selling upgrades at the gate
Lufthansa has recently trialled an innovative way to sell upgrades to Premium Economy at the departure gate. Earlier this year, the airline used virtual reality (VR) glasses at its Frankfurt Airport hub as a way to tempt Economy Class passengers to purchase an upgrade to Premium Economy right before their departure.

By inviting passengers to put on some VR glasses and take a 360 degrees view of how the Premium Economy seat and cabin looks, Lufthansa hoped passengers booked in Economy would become more interested to purchase an upgrade.

As Lufthansa put it: “Because what legroom and premium service really mean in Premium Economy can be best demonstrated in three-dimensional form.”

For two weeks flights were selected for the VR-based promotion on a daily basis, choosing those where there were still enough seats free in Premium Economy. Up until 40 minutes before departure, passengers were given the chance to virtually try out Lufthansa’s new travel class in 3D. Read full article »

Lufthansa partners with Nespresso to offer passengers quality coffee at the gate


images by Raitis Steinbergs, Alessandro Teglia

For years, Lufthansa has been one of the very few airlines – if not the only one – to offer passengers waiting for their flight at the gate complimentary coffee, tea (image), and newspapers at main airports around Germany, including its Frankfurt and Munich hubs.

Or as Lufthansa has stated in the past: “Offering hot beverages to passengers prior to departure is a long Lufthansa tradition. Lufthansa first began offering hot coffee and tea from large thermos flasks in the mid-80s and the first automatic vending machines serving freshly brewed coffee were installed at airports in 1993.”

However, similar to any other full service carrier around the globe who is looking to rationalize every cost item, Lufthansa has to rethink these kind of free amenities. Instead of cutting costs by simply terminating the free hot beverages and print newspapers the airline has come up with a smart alternative that taps into trends such as ‘paid premium’ and digitalization.

Coffee at the gate
Following trials in the first half of 2015 at selected gates at Frankfurt and Munich airports, Lufthansa a few months ago partnered with Nespresso to bring the ubiqituous coffee capsules to the gate area.

The premium Nespresso coffee doesn’t come for free though. Passengers can choose from regular coffee, espresso, cappuccino ior latte macchiato (the latter with fresh milk), each at the cost of 2 euros. For those passengers who might consider bringing their own coffee pods: For the business market, a different pad-shaped system of Nespresso pods exists which are not interchangeable with the consumer capsules.

According to Lufthansa, a total of 20 Nespresso Coffee Points have been placed throughout Frankfurt and Munich airports so that passengers from different gates can access the machines. Read full article »

SAS opens its second off-airport City Lounge at Stockholm Central Station

THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED ON FLIGHTCHIC

SAS will open a new city lounge at Stockholm’s Grand Central station, which offers flyers all the exclusivity and comfort of membership in a private club.

The opening of the new club follows the successful launch in June of last year of the first SAS City Lounge, located in the heart of Stockholm’s business district, in Stureplan.

Stockholm Grand Central
The new 600 square meter lounge is located at Stockholm Grand Central station, approximately 150 m from the Arlanda Express airport train, and offers the same private-club service as the original SAS city lounge, also opened in partnership with No18 Office & Lounge.

Guests enjoy free WiFi, reception and concierge service, open work spaces and telephone rooms, as well as complimentary coffee and tea. Meeting and conference rooms are also available to rent.

“The positive reaction to the first SAS city lounge in Stureplan underlined the growing demand for such services, and how much customers appreciate the exclusive membership-club feeling and the opportunity to do their work when and how it suits them,” the airline states in its announcement.

New ways of working
The new lounge’s proximity to direct train and bus services to Arlanda is intended to be more convenient to business and leisure travellers alike, and keeps step with the airline’s focus on satisfying productivity flyers. The service model appeals both to traditional business travellers and entrepreneurs, including freelancers who can make the most of comfortable temporary offices to hold their meetings in the city.

“We continuously aim to improve our offer to our frequent flyers. Inspired by other membership clubs around the world, we now offer people who fly with us frequently opportunities to meet, work effectively or simply relax in a comfortable environment,” says Stephanie Smitt Lindberg, VP Customer Journey & Loyalty, SAS. Read full article »

Air France and star chef Joël Robuchon partner with Foodora to promote their cuisine

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As the flag carrier of a country that prides itself on its culinary excellence, Air France in the past years has been creative in promoting its onboard cuisine.

Besides partnering with many Michelin star chefs (like many carriers do), the airline regularly invites a chef to join a flight to personally introduce a new menu to passengers in Business and First.

A few years ago, Air France also toured with a food truck around Manhattan handing out free samples of its inflight meals to the public.

Now, in an ‘on trend’ initiative that builds upon the popularity of food delivery services such as Foodora, Deliveroo, GrubHub and Uber EATS, Air France has launching the ‘Bon Appétit’ campaign in Montreal.

To coincide with the grand opening of his new L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon restaurant in Montreal, Joël Robuchon – known as the chef with the most Michelin stars in the world –  has partnered with Air France and delivery app Foodora to give Montreal residents the chance to have a free three course meal delivered directly to their homes.

The offer runs from 9 to 15 December 2016 and each day 10 menus are made available via Foodora. Those who want to order the gourmet menu have to use a discount code (BONAPPETIT) to have the 3 course meal – which is priced at CAD 95 – delivered for free. All dishes are prepared in the chef’s new restaurant which opened to the public on 7 December. Read full article »

Qantas lets lounge visitors order their coffee via their smartphone

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Taking a cue from Starbucks’ mobile ordering service, as well as fellow down-under airline Air New Zealand’s coffee ordering service, Qantas recently introduced a new service at its lounges across Australia that invites lounge visitors to order their barista-made coffee via their smartphone.

In an effort to offer peace of mind to busy travellers who have navigated traffic and queues at security before having to line up again in the lounge to get a barista-made coffee, Qantas has partnered with Skip, a free app that helps customers “skip the queue” by ordering and paying for coffee and food.

In the Qantas Clubs alone, baristas brew over 1,000 cups of tea and coffee every day. In an average week the Sydney Qantas Club sees the biggest demand for coffee, with 6am to 7am being the peak demand time.

The mobile ordering service has been available since July 2016 and the Skip app can be used to order coffee at Qantas Clubs and Business Lounges at Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney domestic airports.

Qantas passengers using the Skip app can also select the time they want to collect their coffee and receive a text message when their order is ready. In addition, touchscreens have been installed around the lounges so those who aren’t Skip users can order before walking up to the bar.

According to Skip general manager Bill Bizos during the soft launch most people preferred downloading the app to using kiosks. Read full article »

JetBlue new Boston – New York shuttle service offers free coffee and bagels to take onboard

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images: Harry Spencer, Adrian Leung, InsideFlyer

Routes with a large number of business travellers travelling back and forth on the same day for meetings are a very lucrative market for airlines.

Examples of busy business corridors include New York and Boston, Chicago, Washington, as well as Los Angeles and San Francisco in the USA, London and Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt in Europe, Tokyo and Osaka and Shanghai and Hong Kong, Beijing in Asia. Besides strong competition between airlines, these shuttle routes also face increasing competition from high-speed rail services.

We have reported before how Delta aims to increase frequent flyer loyalty on routes between New York and Boston, Chicago, Washington, as well as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle by improving the amenities on the ground and on board.

JetBlue Shuttle
Now JetBlue has set its eyes on the lucrative shuttle market. At the end of October, the airline lauched its first shuttle service between New York LaGuardia and Boston Logan offering 6 daily return flights.

Having stepped up competition in the transcontinental market in 2013 with its new A321 aircraft that feature the Mint Business Class, as well as amenities like an inflight snack station, JetBlue stated it plans to inject more competition into the Boston-New York airline ‘shuttle’ market, which is currently being dominated by Delta and American Airlines.

According to investment publication The Motley Fool, the airline shuttles have lost customers to rail travel since Amtrak debuted its high-speed Acela Express service between Boston and Washington in late 2000.

“Travel between Boston and LaGuardia is ready for a little JetBlue reinvention,” said Jamie Perry, VP Marketing, JetBlue. “For years, one of the northeast’s busiest travel routes has been plagued by high prices and a lack of creativity. Our Boston-based business customers and anyone who has been forced to pay up or make the long drive will love this new option.” Read full article »

KLM adds passenger reviews and ratings to flight search results

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Recently, a growing number of online travel agents and airlines have partnered with third-party data providers TripAdvisor and Routehappy to help customers learn more about the quality of their flight.

By sharing candid details of the passenger experience airlines could move beyond commodity pricing and beyond competition solely on fares, instead giving customer fact-based metrics about their products which would justify a higher fare.

There is an important precedent for this change in consumer mindset in the hospitality sector. Today’s informed and savvy travellers are making their hotel choices based on ‘reputation pricing’ —the correlation between a brand’s online reputation and the premium it can charge. This shift from ‘sticker price’ bookings to bookings based on the quality of the experience has been one of the big positive effects of TripAdvisor on the hotel industry.

Rate My Flight
Social and digital frontrunner, KLM is taking transparency to the next level by sharing the feedback it gathers directly from passengers with customers who are looking to book a ticket with the airline.

After extensive experimentation, KLM started showing star ratings and reviews in the search flow of the KLM website in June of this year.

Customers searching for a flight can see the actual reviews from previous passengers who have flown that flight in the past, based on reviews collected from KLM passengers using the airline’s ‘Rate My Flight’ feature. Read full article »

FlightPath3D lets passengers book an airport taxi via the IFE flight map

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THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED ON FUTURE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE

Known for its highly interactive, 3D ‘geotainment’ moving maps – which are featured on the IFE systems onboard airlines such as Air France, KLM, Virgin Atlantic, Norwegian and Finnair – FlightPath 3D showed Future Travel Experience at the recent APEX EXPO in Singapore how it can now help airlines tap into “aircraft-to-door” ancillary revenue opportunities with its new ‘In-flight Travel Planner’, which is supported by multiple patents.

Book airport transfer
As Duncan Jackson, President of FlightPath3D, demonstrated to FTE, passengers can enter their final address (hotel, home, etc.) into the moving map in order to access myriad personalised features.

For instance, rather than simply displaying the estimated time of arrival at the destination airport, the In-flight Travel Planner can draw upon historical or real-time traffic data to provide an accurate time of arrival at the passenger’s final destination.

Partnerships with the likes of Uber and SuperShuttle also allow passengers to view and book ground transportation options while they are flying to help make the arrivals experience more seamless.

After booking their ride in-flight, passengers receive an SMS upon landing to confirm their booking and pick-up location. Read full article »

Aeromexico reimagines B787 galley as entrance lobby and self-service area

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THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED ON THE DESIGNAIR

Aeromexico has taken delivery of it’s new Boeing 787-9 and with it, a brand new Classe Premier product designed for the long-haul routes the aircraft will fly. Adorned with the Quetzalcoatl one-off livery, the aircraft will surprise its passengers both outside and now inside too.

Super Diamond
With the airline currently offering a 2 x 2 x 2 configuration on the current 787-8’s that Aeromexico fly, this new cabin is a giant leap ahead in passenger comfort and space. The new seats now are configured in a 1 x 2 x 1 configuration with every passenger now receiving aisle access, a first for the Mexican carrier.

The 36 seats by B/E Aerospace have been upgraded from the side-by-side Diamond range to the new Super Diamond range, which offer increased passenger space and privacy, similar to those found on Qatar Airways 787s and feature 18inch touchscreen hi-def screens and also now live TV channels.

Espacio Premier
As well as a large spacious business class cabin, the entrance way at Door 2 has been completely redesigned by New Territory, spearheaded by Luke Miles, the same creative director that reimagined much of Virgin Atlantic’s inflight product over the last decade. So it is no surprise to see a communal walk-up bar space re-emerge on this aircraft.

New Territory’s design for the onboard social space (known as ‘Espacio Premier’) however, has taken a departure from the more prescriptive bar space with limited seating to a more welcoming kitchen-style environment which is more intuitive and less disruptive to the natural LOPA of the aircraft. Read full article »

EVA Air next airline to roll out Rimowa’s digital luggage tag

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THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED ON FUTURE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE

EVA Air has become the first Asian airline to adopt the RIMOWA Electronic Tag, the first fully integrated mobility solution for luggage.

RIMOWA Electronic Tag, which is already used by Lufthansa, will be implemented system-wide by fellow Star Alliance carrier EVA Air from 1 December. The exclusive announcement was made at Future Travel Experience Asia EXPO 2016 at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. RIMOWA also hosted an after-show event at its Marina Bay Sands store to mark the occasion.

The RIMOWA Electronic Tag suitcase features an embedded digital bag tag, which can be updated by passengers using the airline’s app. Passengers can submit data from their smartphone with just one tap, via Bluetooth, to the RIMOWA Electronic Tag and the e-ink digital display is updated with exactly the same information that would appear on a paper bag tag.

Dieter Morszeck, President & CEO of RIMOWA, said: “We are proud to be working with such a strong and experienced partner as EVA Air. The launch of RIMOWA Electronic Tag in Asia represents another milestone on the road to digitalisation in the travel industry.”

While EVA Air joins Lufthansa as an early adopter of the pioneering RIMOWA Electronic Tag solution, a number of other airlines are currently trialling the solution ahead of potential implementations in the near to medium term.

Emirates partners with Costa Coffee, Moet & Chandon and Voss for in-lounge bars

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THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED ON THE DESIGNAIR

Emirates has unveiled their newly renovated business class lounge in Dubai International Airport’s concourse 2 after two years of work. At a cost of USD 11m the newly renovated space includes three new dining and drinking experience areas.

The new offering is in addition to the seven other locations within the vast lounge with gourmet cuisine prepared by on-site chefs and a complimentary full bar service, which includes premium wine, spirits and champagne.

The new spaces are all prime examples of brand experiences that are opening in lounges around the world, such as Etihad and Six Senses, Qantas and Rockpool or Air France and Clarins. Emirates has recently partnered with Costa Coffee, Voss water and the long-lasting relationship with Moët Hennessy is now also reinforced in the lounge experiences as well as onboard.

‘Barista Experience’
In the new lounge Costa has brought a ‘Barista experience’ to the lounge around the clock, with flat whites, Italian coffee blends and signature pastries on offer to passengers needing a strong wake up mid-journey. Read full article »