Top 11 innovative product and service concepts for 2011

At airlinetrends.com we are constantly on the look-out for innovative products and services launched by airlines and airports around the world, as they respond to industry and consumer trends such as ‘digital nomads’, social media, the quest for ancillary revenues and sustainability. Taking a cue from sci-fi writer William Gibson words that “the future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed,” we are wrapping up 2011 with our selection of the most innovative products and service concepts that have been launched this year. Airlinetrends.com will continue to bring you  inspiration in 2012.

1. Airlines go wireless with their in-flight entertainment systems

Our pick of the best innovation of 2011 is wireless in-flight entertainment. This cost-efficient solution gives passengers access to content stored on an onboard server via wireless digital devices. Following launches by American Airlines and GOL, the service has been announced by several airlines worldwide. Read more…

2. 11 ways how airlines are deploying the Apple iPad

Airlines have made Apple’s iPad device available to passengers in their lounges and in the air, or for example use the device as a self-service kiosk or food ordering tool. As the list of applications continues to grow, here is our latest overview of how airlines worldwide are deploying the iPad. Read more…

3. San Francisco airport installs water bottle refill stations after security

Many passengers throw away their bottled beverages before entering airport security and then purchase a new drink once air-side. San Francisco International Airport has come up with a more sustainable and customer-friendly solution by installing free water bottle refill stations beyond security. Read more…

4. Malaysia Airlines lets Facebook members select their seat via Facebook

Malaysia Airlines’ MHbuddy app lets Facebook users book flights and check-in, without leaving the social network. Users can also see if any of their friends are travelling on the same flight, and select a nearby seat. KLM will launch a similar ‘Meet & Seat’ social flight feature in early 2012. Read more…

5. Estonian Air’s social loyalty program rewards fans for online promotion

Tapping into the ‘gamification’ trend, Estonian Air is the first airline in the world to launch a social loyalty system by rewarding Facebook fans for posting and sharing reviews and deals of the airline online. Users can redeem their earned points for rewards such as ticket discounts or a meeting with Estonian Air’s CEO. Read more…

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6. US Airways offers passengers free branded snack boxes on domestic flights

Instead of letting passengers pay, airlines are increasingly teaming up with advertisers to foot the bill for in-flight amenities such as Wi-Fi. Earlier this year, passengers onboard US Airways flights were given complimentary snack boxes, sponsored by online luxury retailer Gilt. Read more…

7. Delta to rent out iPads at the airport for onboard use, to be returned via mail

Airport restaurateur OTG Management and Delta Air Lines will launch a ‘Media Bar’ at Minneapolis-St Paul airport. Passengers can rent an iPad at the airport, download their choice of content, take the device with them onboard, and return it in prepaid postage box once they reach their final destination. Read more…

8. Finnair / Helsinki Airport’s ‘Quality Hunters’ scan the world for new ideas

This fall, Finnair and Helsinki Airport selected seven Quality Hunters out of several hundred applicants to travel around the world for 48 days and collect ideas on how the two companies could improve the flight and airport experience. Finnair and Helsinki Airport have vowed to implement the best ideas. Read more…

9. Airlines let passengers hedge against airfare increases, for a fee

When it comes to developing new ancillary products, creativity is key. Several airlines offer passengers a paid option to increase or descrease their exposure to rises in ticket prices. Travellers can ‘freeze’ their fare for up to 14 days when making a booking, or bet against a rise in fuel prices. Read more…

10. AirBaltic introduces innovative ancillary fee for checked bags

AirBaltic, in partnership with Samsonite, has introduced an ancillary product called the airBalticBag. Regular flyers with the airline, who purchase the suitcase, can use it as checked luggage on an unlimited number of airBaltic flights during one year. Samsonite also launched a similar concept with Ryanair. Read more…

11. Austrian Airlines starts its own branded airport taxi service

To capture much needed ancillary revenues, airlines are increasingly cross-selling hotel reservations, car rental bookings and travel insurance to passengers. Austrian Airlines has taken this approach a step further by launching its own branded taxi service in Vienna. Read more…

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