Austrian offers premium meals and amenity kit in Economy for a fee

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By Raymond Kollau,

In their quest to increase the average revenue per passenger, a large number of full-service airlines now charge a fee for the reservation of Economy seats with extra legroom (e.g, exit row seats), while a growing number of full-service carriers (mainly in the USA) also charges for checked bags.

Besides monetizing for services that used to be free, full service airlines are also looking to introduce premium services to passengers travelling in Economy for a fee. Think paid fast track through security and early boarding.

Premium meal
Up in the air, about ten full-service carriers around the world currently offer passengers in Economy the option to upgrade their meal for a fee.

For example, Austrian Airlines’ ‘A La Carte’ service lets passengers on long-haul flights pre-order a premium meal for 15 euro. The airline’s catering partner Do&Co has even opened a last-minute ordering desk at Vienna Airport where passengers can pre-order their meal up to just one hour before the departure of their flight.

Paid amenity kit
Austrian’s latest ancillary initiative is the introduction of a paid amenity kit in Economy. Whereas the likes of Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines and Korean Air are among the few airlines that provide passengers in Economy with a complimentary amenity kit, Austrian regards it as a possible (minor) source of additional revenue.

Branded as the “Austrian Tascherl” (video here), the practical comfort kit contains a sleep mask, earplugs, a refreshing towel, a toothbrush and toothpaste.
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Austrian gives passengers the option to pre-order a premium meal at the airport

Austrian_DO&CO last minute desk Vienna

By Nikos Loukas, InflightFeed

Austrian Airlines is part of a growing number of airlines who are providing passengers with the option to pre-order and pay for a premium dining option in economy class. Whilst not the first they are certainly making it more convenient for passengers to pre-order meals by introducing new innovations in the passenger experience, as well as providing excellent meal choices for passengers.

Premium meals in Economy, for a fee
In the last 12 to 18 months we have seen a sizable increase in the number of airlines offering economy class passengers pre-order ‘a la carte’ meals. Only last week US Airways announced a tie up with Air Meals to offer several pre-order meal options ex Philadelphia and Charlotte to over 24 destinations worldwide making them the only American based carrier to offer such services to their international passengers. In Canada, Westjet is trialing pre-order meals on flights out of Toronto on routes of 2.5 hours or longer to 35 destinations, and within the USA Delta has its’ offering of the DineUp pre-order meal options on select transcontinental services across the country.

In Europe, KLM was first to pioneer the introduction of a la carte dining for long haul services in economy class, whilst Air France followed suit recently with the introduction of their fabulous pre-order range. More recently Estonian Air is now offering pre-order meals to and from Tallinn to over 18 destinations across Europe.

Austrian x DO & CO
Austrian Airlines’ new a la carte offering includes innovations such as being the first airline to offer paid premium meals on flights out of their Vienna hub, but also on flights that depart from New York. Many other pre-order long haul offerings only allow passengers to pre-order from the airlines home port, allowing the airline to control the product and the quality. By using DO & CO Austrian is able to control the quality in both ports as the catering provider has stations in both cities, something that some other airlines can not offer at the moment.
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Star Alliance develops common long-haul economy seat for its member airlines

Airline alliances so far have been about codeshares, trans-atlantic and trans-pacific joint ventures, reciprocal frequent flyer programs, shared lounges and in some cases shared airport terminals (a.k.a. ‘move under one roof’). Star Alliance, the largest of the three global airline alliances, is now adding a new dimension to alliance collaboration by launching a joint long-haul economy seat.

Star Alliance has selected aircraft interior manufacturer B/E Aerospace as the development partner for its common seat programme. Lufthansa, Austrian and Air China will be the initial member carriers to install the seats on their long-haul fleets, with first deliveries scheduled to begin in 2012.

The joint procurement initiative is designed to offer all Star Alliance members a standardised base for their long-haul economy seats. B/E Aerospace is developing a base and advance version of the seat and airlines will pick their own colors, cushions and IFE system. According to a Star Alliance spokesman, the goal of the joint procurement initiative “is not to come up with a standardised economy-class seat across Star Alliance, but rather to select a seat base that those carriers who wish to participate can use and adapt to their needs in terms of color, fabric, in-flight entertainment systems, etc.”

The vendor selection process was coordinated by Star Alliance and included initial market research along with joint customer trials conducted in both China and Germany earlier in 2011. Air China was among the Star members participating in the seat study and selected 200 of its Phoenix Miles members to test three seat concepts from various manufacturers at a seating simulation zone set up at Beijing Capital Airport in March 2011. According to Air China each participant spent 1.5 hours testing the seats, before completing questionnaires on aspects such as comfort, design and possible improvements.
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Austrian Airlines starts its own branded airport taxi service

In an effort to manage more parts of the passenger journey and capture much needed ancillary revenues in the process, airlines are increasingly cross-selling services such as hotel reservations, car rental bookings and travel insurance to passengers. Austrian Airlines is taking this approach a step further and recently has launched its own branded taxi service in Vienna.

Austrian red|cab
Available for Austrian passengers only, the Austrian red|cab service, which currently consists of eight vehicles sporting the Austrian name and logo, transfers Austrian passengers between Vienna (and surroundings) and Vienna Airport. Inside the taxis passenger find a free daily newspaper, Austrian’s in-flight magazines Skylines and Succeed and a bottle of mineral water. The red|cab taxis can only be booked online up to 24 hours before departure and payment is by credit card. The service starts at 29 euros each way for a private car for up to three people, while those opting for a minibus for up to eight people pay 40 euros each way.

Austrian promotes the red|cab service on its website, in the booking confirmation e-mail, as well as in its in-flight magazines and entertainment program. The taxis are operated by AirportServices Wien, and the red|cab service is part of a portfolio of ancillary products by Austrian, called red|services, which are mostly business class services made available to passengers in Economy for a fee.
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Austrian Air tours New York with ‘cafe-to-go’ Twitter truck, serving free coffee

Austrian Airlines is one of the smaller national carriers in Europe, serving just 10 intercontinental destinations from its hub in Vienna. The Lufthansa-owned carrier flies directly to New York and Washington D.C from the Austrian capital. To promote the airline in these two cities, Austrian Air just held a ‘Taste of Europe’ campaign, which highlighted the café and coffee heritage of Vienna. 

From June 1st to June 10th (2010), an Austrian Airlines ‘Café-to-Go’ truck toured the steets of New York City, serving free coffee. Taking a cue from popular food trucks such as Kogi BBQ and Coolhaus in Los Angeles, locations were announced via Twitter. Viennese coffee classics like Wiener Mélange, Einspanner and Kleiner Brauner were prepared in the truck and served to people passing by. Vienna is known for its traditional coffee-houses and Austrian Air also has a ‘Viennese coffee house’ service onboard its flights. Read full article