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 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 also 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 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 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 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.

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

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By Raymond Kollau,

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, “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 »

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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 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


This case appears in the October 2015 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by 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 »

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Air New Zealand to track unaccompanied minors via digital bracelet and mobile app

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By Raymond Kollau,

The ubiquity of personal devices, the availability to be connected anywhere, and the self-service mindset of travellers, has created a momentum that sees many of today’s passenger experience innovations taking place in the digital realm.

For example, Air New Zealand – already noted for its adoption of digital technologies – recently announced it has created the new role of ‘Chief Digital Officer’, as part of a rethink of how the airline approached digital innovation.

The New Zealand Herald also reports that Air New Zealand has just unveiled a host of digital novelties aimed at removing customer pain points, and is working on the development and introduction of permanent digital bag tags, biometric scanners for luggage dropoff, electronic departure cards, and a tracking system for kids flying alone using digital wristbands.

Some of these digital services will be introduced at the end of the year, while others are being looked at as a possibility for the future.

Tracking unaccompanied minors
One eye-catching innovation are the digital wristbands for unaccompanied minors (kids who are flying without their parents). Taking a cue from Disney’s ‘Magic Band’, Air New Zealand is planning to introduce an electronic tracking system for the 28,000 unaccompanied minors it carries per year. The high-tech bracelets replace a paper system and aim to provide parents with more peace of mind, as they will be able to receive real-time information on where their child is during the journey.

How it works: According to the NZ Herald, unaccompanied minors will be offered a silicon wrist band in the colour of their choice which contains a chip that connects to a mobile application.

The app will allow Air New Zealand employees to easily identify the child and send intermittent text messages to parents and family of the child, notifying them where their child is in the flight process and how they are doing. Read full article »

United caters to today’s connected traveller with new domestic Business Class

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By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

Competition in domestic travel in the US is further heating up, with a new wave of interiors just launched by United. Starting with the A319 this week, the new interior will be rolled out on A319s, A320s, 737s and 757s throughout 2016.

The new interiors are custom created for the airline as it pushes hard to compete with more design-led airlines such as Delta, Virgin America and JetBlue. It is no surprise that United have decided to keep up with their competitors and in certain areas possibly even push ahead of the competition.

Tablet holders and storage
Developed with input from customers whom the airline invited to test seat prototypes, the brand new United seats by design firm PriestmanGoode have created features several elements to improve the customer experience, including all-leather seat covers, a patented-design tray table with tablet holder, articulating seat bottoms for greater comfort when reclining and an adjustable headrest; in-seat universal A/C power outlets for customers to charge their devices; increased in-seat storage, including two seatback pockets and side stowage for laptops and tablets; dedicated beverage holders; and real granite cocktail tables (no weight spared there).

At 21.1 inches wide, the new United First seat is wider than the current seat and will have numerous custom-design elements and premium finishes including the signature United-branded tag. Each aircraft will continue to have the same number of premium-cabin seats. Read full article »

Utilitarian aircraft galleys increasingly get a makeover

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By Marisa Garcia, FlightChic

Zodiac Aerospace is celebrating the delivery of its 50,000th aircraft galley, a unit shipped to Etihad Airways for its new ‘Reimagined’ A380 cabin, that embodies everything going right with cabin design in recent years.

Far from the utilitarian storage and food preparation area we see on most aircraft, this fine crafted unit for Etihad Airways would fit in the modern living room of a high-concept design home.

This gorgeous cabin monument reveals just how thorough the Etihad Design Consortium was when tailoring the Reimagined flying experience; eliminating all possible eye-sores and creating a sense of place that communicates more hospitality than aviation.

“We are very proud of being part of such a visionary concept like the one that has been realized for the Etihad A380 cabin”, said Olivier Zarrouati, CEO of Zodiac Aerospace. This particular galley program started in 2011 and the first aircraft was delivered in December 2014.

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 and long-haul aircraft. Beyond looking pretty, putting this functional space to work as an element of the passenger experience is smart design thinking.

With the limited space available on aircraft, each component should complement the airline’s brand aesthetic.

TUI first airline to let passengers order food, beverages, duty free via their own devices

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Images from MI Airline. Arke’s ‘TUI Cloud’ is branded in the airline’s colours

By Raymond Kollau,

Earlier this year we reported on MI Airline’s AirFi box – a portable, battery-powered and self-scaling wireless local network. The AirFi solution is based around a small box which can be stowed in a luggage locker – instead of having to be installed in the aircraft, hence no certification is needed.

Launch customers of the AirFi box are Estonian Air, Transavia and Arke (part of tour operator TUI) – who are using the portable wifi network for inflight entertainment, and/or to connect the tablet devices of cabin crew.

TUI Cloud
Netherlands-based leisure carrier Arke – which later this year will be rebranded as TUI – has installed the AirFi box onboard its fleet of 3 B787, 1 B767 and 5 B737 aircraft for wireless entertainment purposes. The service is branded as ‘TUI Cloud’ and allows passengers to use their own devices to watch video content, read newspapers and play games.

Arke’s managing director Hans van de Velde tells TravConnect that the wireless service is appreciated by passengers. For example, on some flights 40 percent of passengers is reading De Telegraaf (the largest newspaper in the Netherlands) via TUI Cloud and the airline is considering not to carry the paper edition of the newspaper anymore.

According to Arke, the content and functionality of ‘TUI Cloud’ will be expanded with e-books, magazines (in partnership with publisher Sanoma) and newsfeeds in the coming months.

Ordering drinks, snacks and duty free
Arke is also the first airline in the world to let passengers order food, snacks and duty free items via their own devices for delivery to their seats. The airline is currently trialing the on-demand service on a select number of long-haul and short-haul routes. Read full article »

JetBlue installs free book vending machines in low-literacy neighbourhoods

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

JetBlue has extended its social responsibility initiatives with a pilot program aimed to close the literacy gap in a low-income town by providing vending machines that give out thousands of free books to underprivileged children. A selection of 12 books rotates every two weeks, offering up to 42 different titles through the summer.

The airline teamed-up with publishing company Random House to place three vending book machines around the low-literacy neighbourhood of Anacostia, in Washington, D.C. which was chosen to launch this program after a study commissioned by JetBlue found that the Anacostia section of D.C. is a large ‘book desert’, leaving residents little or no access to purchase age-appropriate children’s books. According to city school data, the area sees less than 25 per cent of its middle schools (for children aged between 11-15) able to ready at grade level.

The kiosks have been placed at a Salvation Army’s community center, a Safeway store on Alabama Avenue and near the entrance of a Baptist Church.

To help their children enjoy their books, parents can opt-in to an SMS campaign that offers reading tips, as well as updates when the vending machines are re-stocked with fresh selections.

“Innovative solutions that involve and engage the community is necessary to combat the current summer slump that happens especially in underserved communities,” said Icema Gibbs, JetBlue’s director of corporate social responsibility. Read full article »

8 interesting airline product and service innovations for 2015 so far

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At 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 product and service innovations we have selected to be among the most innovative concepts that have been launched in the first half of 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.


1. Bring Your Own Wi-Fi » Airlines deploy portable wireless networks

Estonian Air, Transavia and Arkefly are the first airlines to deploy the AirFi box – a compact, portable, battery-powered wi-fi solution that can be stowed inside a luggage locker and requires no modification to the aircraft, and hence no certification. Read article »

2. 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 »

3. HK Express lets passengers make contactless in-flight payments with their mass transit smart card

In many Asian countries, prepaid rechargeable contactless payment cards are a common phenomenon. Now, two airlines in Asia are allowing passengers to make in-flight payments with those same smart cards they use to make everyday payments on the ground. Read article »

4. Air New Zealand lets lounge guests order their favourite coffee via their smartphone

Besides featuring barista’s who make freshly brewed coffee to passenger’s preferences in its ‘Koru’ lounges, 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 »

5. SAS’ new A330 Business Class features Hästens bedding and a snack bar

Following years of restructuring, SAS has introduced its first refurbished A330 aircraft. Similar to Aer Lingus’ new A330 Business Class, 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. Read article »

6. Air Astana introduces ‘Economy Sleeper Class’

Recently, several airlines have picked up Air NZ’s Skycouch concept. While China Airlines introduced its ‘Family Couch’ and Azul introduced the ‘Sky Sofa’, Air Astana has become the latest carrier to introduce a slightly different ‘Economy Sleeper Class’. Read article »

7. Delta’s ‘Early Valet’ service preloads passengers’ hand-luggage to speed up boarding

In an effort to take some of the stress out of the boarding process and reduce expensive delays before take-off, many airlines have been looking for alternative procedures to optimize boarding. Now Delta Air Lines is trying something new: Preloading carry-on bags into the overhead bins before the passengers embark the aircraft. Read article »

8. Dutch LCC Transavia first airline to use WhatsApp messaging for customer care

The airline industry is one of the leading sectors in deploying Twitter and Facebook for customer care, while in China many local and foreign carriers are present on Sina Weibo and WeChat. Now Dutch LCC Transavia has become the first airline to integrate WhatsApp into its webcare channels. Read article »

TAM uses Facebook profiles to personalize the inflight magazine for each passenger on Milan flight

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

To celebrate the 35th anniversary of it’s Sao Paulo-Milan route, TAM Airlines recently wowed a flight full of passengers by using Facebook to learn more about them and creating a 100 percent personalized inflight magazine for each.

By integrating Facebook Connect into the ticket purchasing process, TAM was able to access the likes, preferences, social activity and even the photos of their guests to create a completely unique “Ownboard Magazine” with customized content from front to back.

When passengers boarded this special flight, they found a magazine in their seatback pocket that featured a cover showing their face and their first name in big, bold letters.

Every single article, photo and advert in the magazine was geared towards the passenger’s personal interests and life experiences. For example, the inside of the front cover showed the passenger’s name turned into a colour, and one page showed a montage of interesting things that happened on the day they were born.

The idea behind this initiative was to show passengers how much TAM cares about them and understands them. Furthermore, TAM had previously observed that passengers spent only around 3 percent of their time onboard looking at the inflight magazine.

Watching the YouTube video produced about the initiative (which has received more than 18,000 views since May 11), it is clear that passengers were quite happy with their Ownboard Magazines. In fact, 100 percent of the passengers from that flight took the magazine off the plane with them.