Iberia and airberlin latest carriers to develop smartwatch boarding pass


This article first appeared on Future Travel Experience

Following the recent launch by Vueling of the first smartwatch-based boarding pass, Iberia and airberlin have announced the development of their own wearable boarding passes.

Spanish carrier Iberia has teamed up with Samsung to offer the mobile version of its website, including boarding passes, on the Samsung Gear 2 smartwatch, while users of airberlin’s iPhone app can send their digital boarding pass to their Pebble or Pebble Steel smartwatch.

airberlin x Pebble
Referring to the airberlin product, the carrier’s Senior Vice President Marketing, André Rahn, said: “airberlin is the world’s first airline to offer iPhone users the possibility of boarding using a barcode downloaded to their smartwatch. The watch also displays a quick overview of the flight guest’s departure time, gate number and seat. This option makes opening the boarding pass on the iPhone or even searching for the paper pass in your purse a thing of the past. It’s just another step airberlin is taking to simplify the boarding process through technical innovation.”

Iberia x Samsung
Iberia, meanwhile, is working on an updated version of its app for Android devices which will allow boarding passes to be automatically downloaded to passengers’ Samsung Gear 2 smartwatches when they check-in using their smartphone.

Miguel Angel Henales, Head of Iberia’s Digital Business, commented: “Working on this app has been a challenge, because we are producing prototypes, creating something that is new to the market. We are one of the first airlines to offer a wearable boarding pass, which we think will be very popular among our passengers.” Read full article

Iberia first airline to allow passengers to print their own luggage tags

Iberia_My Bag Tag_a680x225

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Iberia this week became the world’s first airline to allow passengers to download and print their own luggage tags from its website.

Rather than queuing up at an airport desk or kiosk, the service – which is called MyBagTag (video) – lets passengers can print their bag tags onto a standard A4 sheet of paper.

Passengers checking-in online at iberia.com specify the number of bags they wish to check-in, and then download, print, and attach the tags themselves, having folded the printer page into quarters and place it into a plastic cover which is then attached to the bag. The pre-tagged luggage is then checked-in at fast bag-drop counters at Iberia’s T4 hub in Madrid-Barajas airport. The reusable plastic envelopes for holding the tags can be picked up at any Spanish airport.

The MyBagTag service can be used on Iberia, Iberia Express, and Air Nostrum point-to-point flights to/from any domestic destination. Iberia says the service is soon to be extended to the airline’s European and overseas destinations and, eventually, to cover flights with connections.

Dimitris Bountolos Montabes, Iberia’s vice president of customer experience, tells Future Travel Experience that passengers who have any reservations about the reliability of printing their own bags tags should rest assured that the service is entirely dependable. “Throughout the trial process, My Bag Tag had a 100 percent read rate. It has been tested in Madrid, Malaga, Palma de Majorca, Barcelona and Alicante airports and there have been no problems at all with the reading of the tags. It is proven to be completely reliable.”
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Iberia provides ground staff and cabin crew with iPads to improve customer service

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Following recent initiatives by British Airways, KLM, and SWISS, Spanish flag carrier Iberia has just announced it will equip its 600 pursors with iPads in order to help cabin attendants anticipate passengers’ needs and offer a more personalised and higher quality service.

Iberia’s new crew iPad contains the entire passenger manifest, real-time graphic information about the status of embarkation and shows the seat assigned to each customer. The app also identifies members of the Iberia Plus loyalty programme and their membership level, as well as all special needs passengers, unaccompanied minors, those requiring special meals, etcetera. It also informs the pursers of each passenger’s recent flights with Iberia, including any incidents.

Iberia says the application will gradually incorporate additional data, such as descriptions and pictures of the meals available on the flight, and information of interest to passengers, covering hotels, restaurants, consulates, embassies, etcetera. Pursers can use their iPads to change seat assignment, and the device will also store duty manuals for crew members, formerly available only on paper. A video of Iberia’s new iPad-based onboard service is available here.

Iberia Ágora project
The introduction of the iPad for pursers is one of several initiatives that are part of Iberia’s Ágora program, which has been launched by the airline to improve customer service, punctuality, and operational efficiency. In early 2011, Iberia equipped customer service staff at its Madrid-Barajas hub with iPads that provide them with real-time access to operational information so they can make decisions and keep passengers informed in a better way. Tablet PCs are also used in the daily servicing of the ground handling vehicles used by Iberia at Madrid-Barajas.

While the IBPad initiative focused on providing Iberia ground staff with real-time information, the airline has also just launched a new initiative called ‘IBHelp’ as an extension of the IBPad-based customer service. More than 100 Iberia customer service agents will be equipped with iPads and PDAs loaded with applications enabling them to deal with a wide range of customer incidents and requests in real-time and from any location within the airport, making them more proactive and mobile. To implement IBHelp, Iberia has developed an check-in platform called ‘Departure Control System’ to link the mobile devices to all check-in kiosks and Quick Service Points from which documents may be printed. According to Iberia, in addition to making customer service more flexible and agile, the objective of IBHelp is to optimise customer service resources at peak times (video here).
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Iberia teams up with pizza delivery chain to collect unused books for charity

Spanish national carrier Iberia, pizza chain Telepizza and open innovation network Ideas4All in January 2012 launched a ‘Books for Colombia’ campaign with the aim of bringing some 70,000 textbooks and reading books to underprivileged Colombian children and teenagers. The campaign, which kicked off on January 10 and ended on February 10, 2012, called on customers of Telepizza to contribute books they no longer need but that are in good condition.

‘Books for Colombia’ arose from a suggestion made by a Telepizza employee to the Ideas4All website, noting that the boxes on the motorbikes used to deliver pizzas to homes might be used for something worthwhile on the return journey. Telepizza is a Spanish pizza chain that operates more than 600 stores in Spain and over 400 outlets in countries such as Portugal, Chile and Colombia.

Customers could donate books that they no longer use to the Telepizza delivery person, after they have ordered a home delivery. Alternatively, they could donate them directly in any of the Telepizza outlets participating in the campaign. The collected books will be flown to Colombia by Iberia in March, where they will be classified and distributed to 120 libraries and schools in Colombian rural and inner cities by local NGO Buena Nota. Says Manuel López Aguilar, Iberia’s Manager of Sales and Customers, “We loved this idea from the start, since it involves two of Iberia’s hallmarks: as a bridge to Latin America, and as a proactive promoter of culture and human progress.”
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Iberia equips customer service agents with iPads

Apple’s versatile iPad is currently being used by airlines as inflight entertainment device, self-service kiosk, customer survey tool, or as a food ordering tool. Now Spanish airline Iberia has equipped its customer service staff at its Madrid-Barajas hub with iPads that provide them with real-time access to the information they need to make decisions and to keep passengers informed.

Iberia IBPad
Iberia’s so-called IBPad is loaded with 30 different applications which together put the entire airport in the palm of the employee’s hand. Constantly updated with real-time information from Iberia’s Barajas Hub Control Centre, the IBPad enables agents to access a wide range of up-to-date information. Iberia says the IBPad will improve everyday operations and dealings with customers, boosting communications and staff decision-making autonomy while eliminating the use of paper. See here for a video of the IBPad functionality.

Information available to to staff via the IBPad includes:
– Information on passengers at risk of missing connecting flights and their status as customers.
– Information on passengers on intercontinental flights that have not yet checked-in.
– Flights at risk of being delayed or cancelled and any other incident that would impact on customers.
– The list of passengers on each flight who need assistance.
– List by departure zone of the status and progress of boarding procedures.
– Baggage remaining to be loaded on each flight, with passenger name.
– Incoming flight with baggage incidents, along with the number and names of affected passengers. Read full article

Low-cost airline Vueling departs point-to-point model, starts transfer service at Barcelona hub

Departing the traditional low-cost carrier business model which emphasizes point-to-point routes instead of transfers at hubs, Vueling Airlines will start connecting passengers through its base at Barcelona El Prat Airport from July 5, 2010. Passengers will have to buy only one ticket when booking the flights, and Vueling will connect baggage at no additional charge. 

Vueling said that although the new hub model would  result in new costs such as luggage handling and transfer counters at the airport, the additional costs are in line with its low cost base ethos. Says Vueling CEO Alex Cruz, “There will be no changes to our scheduling. We remain fundamentally a point-to-point airline. As a ‘new-generation carrier’ we won’t stop implementing ‘traditional’ products/services as long as we don’t break our main premise that a short-haul operation cannot survive today without obsessing on having the lowest cost structure.”
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Iberia to set up new ‘lower-cost’ feeder airline to serve Madrid hub

Picture courtesy of Matt Hintsa 

The economic crisis and fierce competition from low-cost carriers and high-speed rail are forcing European network carriers to think about structural changes in their short-haul operations. One of the hardest hit airlines is Spanish flag carrier Iberia which has lost some of its most lucrative domestic routes to Spain’s expanding high-speed train network, while low-cost carriers (Ryanair, Easyjet) have hit its European services. In what Iberia calls nothing less than a ‘paradigm shift’, the airline has announced plans to replace its domestic and European operations with a new lower-cost feeder airline and focus the main Iberia operations on profitable long-haul sectors, mainly to Latin America. 

Iberia said previous measure taken, including cuts in staff and capacity and the grounding of aircraft, had proved insufficient and that the current situation is unsustainable, saying: “We have a structural problem in our domestic and European operations. Thus we are proposing a total different model, with markedly lower operating costs and no ‘legacy’ work practices, which will allow us to compete with other carriers and the high-speed train.” As part of its restructuring plan Iberia will also lay off all flight attendants above the age of 55, and wages are frozen for two years for all employees.
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