How Korean Air is catering to the growing number of female passengers

Airlines traditionally have been catering to the stereotype male business traveler in his forties, but the growing economic power of women, the greying of society, and the emergence of more travelers from non-Western countries is changing this archetypical passenger. For example, in the U.S. women already make up over 40 percent of business travellers and 50 percent of frequent flyer program members. Although still limited, some airlines have begun to offer specific amenities for female passengers, which go beyond the traditional amenity kit. Lufthansa and Air France publish dedicated lifestyle magazines for premium female passengers with titles such as Woman’s World and Madame, while Asiana offers additional services for expectant mothers, called ‘PreMom’. South Korean flag carrier Korean Air, however, is going the extra mile to cater to the growing number of female passengers, which make up 45 percent of its passengers.

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Dedicated lounge area for female passengers
Korean Air recently opened an expanded Prestige Lounge at Incheon International airport. Among the lounge’s features is a dedicated area for female travellers, which to our knowledge, is a first for an airline.

Says Korean Air’s spokeswoman Mi Hyun Kim: “These days more and more female travellers are traveling around the world. In order to respond to their increasing needs, we have designed a special area fully dedicated to female travellers, which includes a female restroom, sleeping room and powder room. Also, female travellers can taste quality food and snacks and change diapers of their babies without any distraction in this area. In the powder room, there is a dressing table with a large mirror and a chair to help female travelers to do their make-up. In the sleeping room, there are two comfortable couch-type chairs which can be reclined upon adjustment.”

Women-only onboard bathroom
Korean Air is also among a handful airlines in the world that have dedicated bathrooms onboard for use by female passengers only. The airline has been offering this ‘ladies-only’ facility, which is available on long-haul aircraft such as A380s, B747s, B777s and A300s, since 2007. Korean Air’s ladies-only lavatory is decorated with pink coloured wallpapers, has a diaper board for babies and provides extra cosmetics.

Other airlines that offer ‘ladies-only’ bathrooms on long-haul flights include All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, Virgin/V Australia (although only available to female passengers in business class on its B777s), while Brazilian low-cost airline GOL, has a ‘banheiro feminino exclusivo’ on many of its B737’s. Lufthansa, meanwhile, has installed an urinal for men in its A380 First Class cabin.

Onboard duty free ‘showcase’
For those in need of some ‘shopping therapy’ while in the air, Korean Air is also the first airline in the world to outfit an aircraft with a physical duty-free ‘skyshop’. The airline has installed what it calls a ‘duty free showcase’ on its A380 superjumbos.

Designed by beauty brand L’Oréal, the kiosk will display the best-selling items across categories such as liquor, cosmetics, accessories and fragrances and is open for business for the duration of the flight. The bottles on display have a strong magnet on the bottom to prevent them from sliding in the event of turbulence. The duty free showcase complements the regular duty free trolley service and is staffed by a full-time sales assistant. The orders placed by passengers are delivered to their seats later.

Korean Air is seen as the world’s most successful inflight retailer, generating USD200 million in duty free sales in 2010, and a 2009 survey by Visa found that Koreans top the list of duty free spenders in Asia Pacific, ahead of travellers from China.

Related articles:
Korean Air’s new A380 to feature in-flight duty free store
ANA introduces women-only lavatories on long-haul flights
Asiana extends ‘Happy Mom’ service with ‘PreMom’ package for expectant parents

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FTE Asia 2014