13 December 2010 | In 2010, airlines such as Air New Zealand, ANA and Cathay Pacific have further raised industry standards by rolling out new cabin interiors. In recent years several airlines have also been investing in ‘softer’ elements of the inflight experience, such as inflight concierges (ANZ), Sky Nannies (Gulf Air) and onboard bar tenders (Emirates, Kingfisher and Virgin Atlantic). To add an extra dimension to the inflight dining experience, airlines such as Gulf Air, British Midland and Austrian Airlines have also employed ‘Sky Chefs’ for several years. Recently, these carriers have been joined by Asiana and Turkish Airlines.
Asiana ‘Inflight Chef and Somelier’
Asiana Airlines (winner of the 2010 Airline of the Year award) has just announced a new ‘Onboard Crew Chef & Sommelier’ service in First and Business Class on flights between Seoul and Los Angeles as well as Seoul and Frankfurt. The restaurant-like service is provided by Asiana flight attendants who have acquired licenses from international cuisine schools (e.g, Le Cordon Bleu) and sommelier courses (e.g, M.C. Sommelier, Wine & Sprit Education Trust) under an airline program that supports staff to take service courses at world-class institutions.
Asiana’s ‘Chef Service’ is formed by a team of three flight attendants who wear chef uniforms and serve a variety of Canapés and Lamb Chop dishes that have been developed by themselves. As part of the ‘Sommelier Service’ flight attendants decant wines and provide guidance in chosing the wine. The ‘Chef & Sommelier’ service will initially be provided just once a month on the two routes mentioned, but Asiana says it will soon increase the number of attendants with chef and sommelier skills and expand the service to New York flights by the end of 2010 as well. Since 2006, Asiana also employs an onboard sushi chef in First Class on flights between Incheon and Los Angeles, which provides passengers with freshly made sushi as well as some ‘culinary theater’ (see also this video).
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16 July 2010 | Many airports offer playgrounds for kids to keep them entertained while waiting for their flight. For example, Singapore Changi features several children’s playgrounds and even a 4-storey slide, while Schiphol Airport has a ‘Kids Forest’. Airports have also teamed up with brands to offer ‘brand spaces’ for kids and babies. At Amsterdam Schiphol, baby food brand Nutricia runs a ‘Nutricia Babycare Lounge’, while at Paris’ Orly and Charles de Gaulle airports kids can play at the ‘Gulli area’, a playground povided by Gulli, a French children’s TV channel. Jetblue’s T5 terminal at New York JFK features a ‘Fisher Price Play Space’.
Besides these public facilities, airlines have recently began opening their own dedicated lounges for kids. Air France just launched its first lounge for unaccompanied minors at Paris-Orly airport, which the airline mainly uses for domestic and regional flights. Nearly 380,000 unaccompanied minors travel on Air France every year, and approximately 70% of them travels within France and to the French Overseas Departments. Under the watchful eye of Air France staff, children can play, rest, read or watch DVDs in the new 40 sqm lounge. Air France has also opened a summer-only 200 sqm lounge At Paris-Charles de Gaulle during the school vacation period for kids traveling alone. Airlines such as KLM (‘Junior Jet Lounge’), Lufthansa (‘Kinderlounge’) and BA (‘KidZone’), Emirates and Etihad have also been operating similar unaccompanied minors lounges for several years.