KLM

Air France-KLM’s ‘e-tag & e-track’ turns suitcases into connected devices

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This article originally appeared on Future Travel Experience, the travel industry forum focused on enhancing the passenger experience on the ground and up in the air.

By Ryan Ghee, Future Travel Experience

Over the last 12 months, interest in permanent bag tags has increased apace as the viability of the concept has been proved, and Air France-KLM has this week launched the latest innovation in this field. The permanent bag tag, called eTag, and the eTrack tracking device have been developed by the airline alongside FastTrack Company, Samsonite and Dutch telco KPN with significant input also coming from Delta Air Lines.

eTag & eTrack
The eTag is an electronic baggage label that includes two e-ink displays and that attaches to the outside of the suitcase, while eTrack is placed inside the luggage. In addition, a limited edition suitcase – the Samsonite Track & Trace, which includes embedded eTag and eTrack devices – has been revealed.

Speaking to FTE, Manuel van Lijf, Manager Product Innovation, Air France-KLM, explained: “We’ve worked closely with our suppliers and with Delta to try to make this an industry initiative, not just an airline initiative, and we’ve had involvement from SkyTeam too and kept them updated throughout the process.

“We thought it would be useless to just develop something for us – we wanted to develop something that will benefit the industry and the passengers. The idea was to create a product that can be used by a passenger flying with Air France, KLM, Delta, Lufthansa or another airline, for instance. Why would a passenger buy a permanent tag that can only be used on one airline?”

FTE Editor Ryan Ghee was given a preview of the eTag, eTrack and Samsonite Track & Trace suitcase by Air France-KLM’s Manuel van Lijf and FastTrack Company’s Founder & CTO Graham Kelly; CEO Arthur Lahr; and Founder & CFO David van Hoytema.

GSM, GPS, Bluetooth, electronic ink
eTrack makes use of GSM, GPS and Bluetooth technology, which enables it to be tracked by a smartphone, while eTag also utilises Bluetooth. Passengers with a Flying Blue account can link the eTag and eTrack devices to their account, so when they check-in online, the permanent bag tag will be automatically updated within just five seconds.

The tag communicates with the outside world via the eTrack device, and directly with smartphones using Bluetooth, but the two products can also be used independently. Read full article »

KLM first airline to let passengers pay ‘socially’ via Facebook or Twitter

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

With over 5 million Facebook fans (the most of any airline in the world) and more than 800,000 followers on Twitter, and a wide range of social media initiatives, the KLM brand has become synonymous with social media innovation. In terms of social service, the airline was recently voted as the top ‘socially devoted’ company in the world by social metrics company SocialBakers and for example every 5 minutes displays the actual social media response time via Twitter and Facebook and the airline’s 130 social media agents respond to some 35,000 queries on Facebook and Twitter each week.

KLM’s social media strategy is based on three pillars according to the airline: Reputation, Service and Commerce, stating that “Commerce is the more challenging component of our strategy. Few companies have successfully derived revenue from social media, but we aim to be among those that do.”

Social payment
According to KLM, customers are already able to arrange extra services through social media, but until now payment has taken place over the telephone. However, as customers have regularly indicated that they would like to pay online through its social media channels, the airline decided to explore the posibilities of ‘social payment’.

Explains Frederiek Filippo, Social Media Service Agent at KLM, who came up with the social payment idea: “With around 130 employees at the ready, we respond quickly. With payment required for an increasing number of requests, I wanted to find a more ‘social’ solution. We try so hard to be a one-stop-shop, so the last thing you want to do is bother customers with another call.”

How it works
Similar to booking a ticket via the telephone, customers can inquire the best fares for their preferred date of travelling via social media and when they want to book the ticket, KLM sends a link to the customer in a private message on Facebook or Twitter. The customer can then select their preferred method of payment and complete the transaction.
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Airlines encourage passengers to provide service feedback via apps and cards

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This article earlier appeared in Onboard Hospitality Magazine.
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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Social media has provided passengers with a powerful platform to voice their opinion on the experience they have with airlines. In response, airlines have become one of the most active organizations that actively monitor the online conversation in order to pro-actively take actions to correct issues if needed.

However, instead of just waiting for passengers to share their experiences (both good and bad) online, several airlines have also started to encourage passengers to provide their feedback about the service they encounter in real-time.

KLM ‘Feedback App’
We have reported before on KLM’s mobile ‘Feedback’ app that allows the airline’s passengers to give real-time feedback on how they perceived the experience at a specific area (check-in, lounge, boarding, arrival) at one of 13 participating airports the airline’s network. The rating consists of simply tapping a ‘thumps up’ or ‘thumbs down’ button, but passengers can also specify their rating with a comment. Meanwhile, KLM team leads and station management at participating airports have been equipped with iPads that enables them to monitor the feedback in real-time, so they can react on passenger feedback immediately if needed and possible.

United ‘Outperform Recognition’
Following its merger with Continental, United Airlines launched a a service recognition program, called ‘Outperform Recognition’ in mid-2012, that invites United MileagePlus members to submit up to five nominations every four months through a variety of channels, including United’s mobile app, mobile website and Facebook page. Each period the airline selects 101 eligible employees randomly from the pool of eligible submissions, who receive a financial bonus of between USD 2,500 and 50,000. The first edition of the program (second half of 2012) received over 9,000 nominations.

The option to recognize excellent service through the mobile app [screenshot] is the most innovative part of the initiative as it provides passengers an easy way to express their satisfaction on the spot and in real-time – especially since United has equipped the majority of its domestic fleet with inflight.
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Air France KLM ‘employs’ frequent flyers as mystery shoppers

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

One of the best ways for companies to gain insight into their customers’ experience is through mystery shopping audits. Many people love to take part in mystery shopping – especially when this allows them to travel by air – as it lets them have their say and opinion on the level of customer service they receive and feed their experiences back to the company involved.

Air France KLM ’Quality Observers’
Many airlines employ mystery flyers and in return for valuable insight into the daily runnings of the flights provide undercover flyers with a free flight and paid-for expenses.

Air France KLM has come up with an innovative twist for its mystery flyers program and is introducing a new so-called ‘Quality Observer’ program. Instead of employing mystery shoppers, the Quality Observers are recruited from the airlines’ community of Flying Blue members.

Within the program, Elite members from the airlines’ Flying Blue loyalty program will be randomly invited to join the Quality Observer community and participate as mystery flyer during their travel, according to booking data and the pre-set Quality Observer coverage and frequency needs per station.

This joint Air France KLM program is designed to objectively observe and measure if product and services are delivered according to pre-set specifications at every customer point of contact during the actual journey (booking/call centers are planned to be added next year). According to Air France KLM, the aim of the Quality Observer program is to ensure a worldwide consistency in quality of service delivered to its passengers.

Mobile app
A special Quality Oberver app (both for iOS and Android devices) is made available for the Quality Observers. To be able to use the application, Flying Blue members need to be registered as a Quality Observer with AFKL, which is by invitation only.
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Schiphol Airport and KLM create temporary drive-in cinema at the airport

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The Disney ‘Planes’ Airport Drive-in case appeared in the September 2013 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by airlinetrends.com and Simpliflying, which identifies the latest innovative marketing capaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »

Airlines around the world have been busy aligning themselves with Disney’s latest film ‘Planes’ to help co-promote themselves and the movie. American Airlines was the first carrier to screen ‘Planes’ on its IFE system and the airline is even featured with their new livery in the film itself (video here). In Australia, Disney partnered with Qantas to conduct the first official Australian screening of ‘Planes’ on a Boeing 767, mid-air.

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport x KLM
In the Netherlands, KLM and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport have teamed with Disney to organize the screening of ‘Planes’ in a specially created ‘pop-up’ 3D drive-in cinema at the airport on September 28th ahead of the official launch of the movie in the Netherlands on October 9.

Billing itself as the first airport in the world that is used as the location for a 3D Drive-in cinema, Schiphol cleared the upper deck of one of its parking garages, including the removal of lamp posts in order to avoid bright lights hindering the movie goers. Set against the backdrop of the airport control tower, a heavy crane lifted the film screen and along the side of the parking deck were colourful lights, stalls selling beverages and chips, and mobile toilets. Video of the event here.

The visitors – 100 winners (and their friends and family) of KLM’s ‘Create Your Own Plane’ contest – had to drive up to the garage upper deck with their own car. They then were directed to their spot by Schiphol and KLM staff just like planes arriving at the gate. Equipped with 3D glasses and a newspaper, the movie-goers enjoyed ‘Planes’ from the inside of their car with the sound beamed to the car stereo via a radio frequency that was specially made available for the event.

According to Paul Sluis, Brand Manager B2C & Social Media at KLM, the initial ‘Create Your Own Plane’ campaign attracted 8,000 participants. The 100 participants who managed to attract the most online votes for their virtual creations were invited to the drive-in cinema experience.

Onboard pre-screening
On October 2, KLM also gave 300 kids the experience of a lifetime. The lucky kids were invited to a spectacular pre-screening of ‘Planes’ on board of a real airplane Besides the popcorn and beverages which made the kids already extremely happy, KLM created an even more unique environment: world’s first movie experience in and around a plane using special effects by recreating the world of Planes in a live setting. This made it an unforgettable experience for the kids. Video of the event here.

Best Practices in Airline Marketing - Monthly selection of the most innovative marketing campaigns launched by airlines around the world

KLM ‘Feedback App’ lets passengers rate their level of satisfaction at the airport

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

KLM is known for its embrace of digital technology. The airline is a leader in social media and in the past years has launched a series of specific mobile apps, such as a ‘Passport’ app, which lets users record their journeys with their mobile phone and share their experiences via Facebook.

Real-time feedback
KLM’s latest mobile app allows the airline’s passengers to give real-time feedback on how they perceived their experience at the airport (e.g, check-in, lounge, boarding, arrival).

The option to provide direct feedback about the quality of service at airports isn’t entirely new. Singapore Changi, for example, has installed an instant feedback system that lets airport users rate service on the spot. The airport uses the real-time feedback to address issues immediately and to reward employees for good service. Travellers at Phoenix International Airport, meanwhile, can rate the cleanliness of the toilets by scanning a QR code.

KLM’s Feedback app, however, marks the first such initiative by an airline. According to the carrier, the objective of the Feedback app is to increase passenger involvement during the ground stage of their journey in order to improve the passenger experience at the airport.

How it works
After downloading the app, which is available for both Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, passengers first choose the airport they are currently at (13 airports are supported at the moment: Amsterdam, Accra, Almaty, Athens, Cape Town, Curacao, Geneva, Jakarta, Kuwait, Singapore, Tokyo, Toronto and Vancouver) and then choose the area (check-in, lounge, boarding, arrival) and sub-area they want to rate.

The rating consists of simply tapping a ‘Thumps Up’ or ‘Thumbs Down’ button, but passengers can also specify their rating with a comment. Interestingly, the app also allows for the feedback to be published on Twitter at the same moment. Pasengers can rate each sub-area once a day and can also view how other passengers rated this area within the last 24 hours.

KLM team leads and station management at participating airports have been equipped with iPads that enables them to monitor the feedback in real-time, so they can react on passenger feedback immediately if needed and possible.

Says Gerard-Pieter de Haas, Director CRM at KLM, “Our staff is very excited about the feedback app as it helps them to take immediately corrective action and recover the required service levels for each touch point. Moreover, we can capture this experience and relay to other touch points – like Check-in, Lounge, Transfer or even Inflight – so staff can take immediate action if needed. This fully fits our CRM-vision of ‘connecting the dots’ and really puts the customer in the center of our attention.”
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Airlines ‘crew-source’ new onboard duty free products

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

As airlines around the world are looking to increase the average revenue per passenger beyond only the ticket price, carriers are getting more creative with their onboard retail offering. Korean Air, for example, features an onboard duty-free showcase on its A380 superjumbo (which takes up the space of 13 Economy seats), while Virgin America’s feature-rich RED IFE system contains the first ever seatback digital shopping platform, including an ‘open tab’ functionality that allows passengers to make multiple purchases during the flight and pay just before landing. Delta Air Lines, meanwhile, has added a ‘Delta Picks’ shopping list to its retail program that lists the best travel products picked by its well-travelled flight attendants.

Emirates ‘The Big Idea’
On a similar note, the duty free division of Emirates recently called on all cabin crew to awaken their inner entrepreneur with a competition called ‘The Big Idea’. Crew were asked to come up with ideas for potential inflight duty-free products, present their proposals individually or as a team, for a chance to win USD5,000 in prize money.

The competition, which ran for two months, attracted 200 entries and eight ideas were selected to be pitched by the finalists to a judging panel. Besides the first prize of USD 5,000, each of the finalists would receive gifts from in-flight and travel retail supplier Scorpio, who sponsored the contest.

The winner of the competition was Emirates flight attendant Michelle Carbonell, whose ‘Spectrum’ design – a piece of jewellery reflecting all colours of the rainbow in crystals – will be produced by Scorpio and be available on board by July 2013 as part of Emirates’ own duty free brand ‘Eduardo Verde’ collection.
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Innovative Airlines 2012: #4 KLM

In 4th place on our 2012 ranking of innovative airlines is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. Part of Air France since 2004, the Dutch airline is the seventh largest airline in the world in terms of international kilometers flown, and serves 135 destinations with a fleet of 157 aircraft. Having a small homebase, KLM’s strength lies in a tightly-knit, worldwide network, as the majority of its 25 million passengers transfers through its Amsterdam Schiphol hub, which is widely regarded as one of the best airports in the world.

KLM has been an early adopter of self-service options such as DIY luggage check-in, has a strong focus on sustainability (e.g, catering, biofuel), is rapidly expanding in China, aims to differentiate the passenger experience by adding local Dutch touches, and is a frontrunner in the adoption of social media.

Dutch heritage
According to KLM, customers have indicated that they appreciate KLM’s typically Dutch character, and one of the ways the airline is emphasizing its Dutch origins is by partnering with contemporary Dutch designers Marcel Wanders and Viktor&Rolf for the creation of its onboard amenities. Marcel Wanders (of Droog Design fame) has designed the airline’s Business Class tableware on short- and long-haul flights in his signature style, while Viktor&Rolf have created the airline’s amenity kits.

KLM also recently teamed with Dutch designer Hella Jongerius – known for her industrial textile and colour skills – to revitalise its Business Class cabin interior across the fleet. The new Business Class will also feature BE Aerospace-produced ‘Diamond’ full-flat beds, which will replace the airline’s current angled lie-flat seats. KLM’s fleet of 22 B747-400s will be the first to be retrofitted with the new seats and further details of the design will be announced in the second half of 2012.

Delft Blue
Delft Blue porcelain is also part of KLM’s Dutch-inspired branding. Since the 1950s, the airline has handed out small ceramic replicas of historical Dutch houses filled with ‘genever’ (a Dutch style of gin) to passengers in Business Class, that are still a popular souvenir item for many passengers. Furthermore, last year KLM launched a ‘Tile & Inspire’ campaign which invited Facebook users to convert their profile picture into a Delft Blue tile and add their own message. 4,000 of the most inspiring tiles were placed on the body of a KLM ‘Delft Blue’ Boeing 777-200.
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KLM’s ‘Meet & Seat’ social seating lets passengers pick an interesting seat mate


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KLM today has launched a ‘Meet & Seat’ scheme which encourages passengers to pick seatmates by checking out social media profiles of fellow passengers who link to their profiles during check-in. The idea is that flyers will be able to find out about interesting people who will be on board their KLM flight, for example other passengers attending the same event at the destination. The ‘social seating’ feature has been launched on flights between Amsterdam and San Francisco, Sao Paolo and New York City with plans to extend it to other intercontinental destinations shortly.

Although the idea of the ‘social flight’ in itself is not entirely new – it was coined by digital media guru Jeff Jarvis a few years ago, while airlines such as Malaysia Airlines and Estonian Air have experimented with the concept – KLM’s new ‘Meet & Seat’ tool takes the idea of ‘social seating’ a step further, as until now social media users could only connect with their friends before a flight, while KLM allows anyone to connect with anyone.

KLM says it is trying to give travellers a more “inspirational journey” with the service enabling them to see who is on the flight, perhaps meet for a coffee beforehand, select seats next to each other or share a taxi at the other end. The tool will be opt-in only, to allow the many travellers who view flight time as private time.

How it works
Passengers who have booked a KLM flight from Amsterdam to New York, San Francisco or Sao Paulo (or back), can go to KLM.com and log in to the ‘Manage my Booking’ section. They then go to the ‘Seating’ tab, click ‘Meet & Seat’ and connect their social profiles with their booking by logging in to their Facebook or LinkedIn account.
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BA and KLM first airlines to equip cabin crew with iPads

We recently published an overview of how airlines and airports around the world have made Apple’s popular iPad device available to passengers in their lounges, rent them out in the air, or use them as self-service kiosk, customer survey tool, and food ordering tool (see: “11 ways how airlines are deploying the iPad”). In the past week several new initiatives have been announced by British Airways, KLM and Changi Airport, using the device to improve customer service on the ground and in the air.

British Airways
British Airways has just equipped its cabin crew with iPads to enable them to have prior awareness of customer preferences and a greater understanding of each customer’s previous travel arrangements, allowing them to offer a more personalised service. The iPad lets BA crew identify where each customer is seated, who they are travelling with, their frequent flyer status, any special meal requests, as well as customer service updates. The latter means that any issues can be logged with ground-based colleagues around the network prior to departure, so solutions can be delivered while the flight is airborne. When all the passengers have boarded and just before the doors are shut, cabin crew are currently handed a long scroll of paper, listing up to 337 customers. With the new iPads cabin crew will simply refresh their screen when the doors have closed through wireless 3G networks and they will have a complete list of passengers on board. The iPad is currently being trialled with 100 cabin crew with the aim to roll it out to all 1,800 senior crew members across the airline in the coming months. More images here.

KLM
On a similar note, KLM will provide a group of 50 senior pursers with iPads on board as part of a 6-month trial project starting in October 2011. KLM says it feels it is essential that cabin crew have easy access to the latest information in the air, as personal contact with passengers on the ground is becoming rarer due to the increased deployment of self-service kiosks. As part of the same ‘pilot’, KLM will also equip 50 pilots with iPads, providing them with an extra tool during flight operations that is more efficient than the large volume of forms, briefing documentation and manuals they usually take along.
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Free printed guide books and random surprises from KLM this summer

Dutch national airline KLM is developing a reputation when it comes to digital media campaigns that combine the online, virtual environment with the offline, real world. Examples include a Delft Blue Tiles livery based on Facebook profile pictures, passengers who are randomly surprised with a personal gift, a commercial flight exclusively sold via Twitter, and free customized luggage tags. In the past weeks, the airline has launched several more “OFF=ON” initiatives.

Hard-copy customized city guides
KLM currently lets the public create and customize their own travel guide, to be printed and delivered to their home address for free. Visitors to the KLM Cityguide website can select the sites, activities and hot spots they would like to visit at their destination via a number of questions. The final result is then turned into a pocket-sized guide that consists of 3 chapters (and 12 activities in total) and a map. The printed city guides can be ordered by residents of 10 European countries, as well as the United States and Canada. Delivery is within 4 weeks. For other countries, the personalized city guide can be downloaded as PDF file. KLM’s free hard-copy guides were so popular that heavy traffic caused the website to go offline on the first day of the campaign.

KLM Surprise, summer edition
In a follow up to the very successful ‘Surprise’ campaign, which took place at the end of 2010, KLM has just launched the KLM Surprise ‘Summer Edition’. Combining social media with real-world interactions, the KLM ‘Surprise team’, consisting of staff from the airline’s E-commerce, Ground Services and Inflight Services departments, from mid-July to mid-August randomly surprises passengers with ‘little acts of kindness’ based on information found on the passenger’s social network profile(s) or in recent tweets. Since most people have profiles on social networks such as Facebook and Linkedin these days (in fact, more Americans now have Facebook accounts than have passports) it is relatively easy to find some interesting facts about a person in order to come up with a creative surprise.
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European airlines pioneer world’s first scheduled commercial biofuel flights

With the world’s population growing and becoming increasingly wealthy, IATA estimates 16 billion passengers will fly each year by 2050. But as passenger counts grow, airlines are needing ever-more fuel to keep their fleets in the sky. As air transport is the only mode of transport that will remain dependent upon liquid fuels for the foreseeable future, the aviation industry and the research community has no choice other than to develop and test alternatives. Furthermore, with oil prices rising and European emissions trading slated to begin in 2012, airlines will be faced with new expenses. Not only will they have to pay for the fuel the industry consumes, they’ll also need to acquire certificates for each ton of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere.

Airlines in June 2011 won approval from from the US standards body ASTM International to power planes with blends including biofuels for commercial flights. Biofuel refers to fuel made from renewable organic raw materials and is more efficient than kerosene and emits less greenhouse gas when burned. Depending on how the biomass used to make the fuel is produced, results could range between 50 and 80 percent less CO2 emissions. Although biofuel use is still not financially sustainable, as it is more expensive than ordinary aviation fuel and no large-scale production or distribution has yet been established, Europe’s first users of biofuel, KLM, Lufthansa, Finnair and Thomson Airways hope the increased interest from airlines in biofuel will encourage more companies to enter the growing market and help make it financially viable.

KLM, Finnair, Thomson
Following the world’s first demonstration flight carrying passengers with a B747 with one if its four engines running on a 50/50 blend of jetfuel and biofuel from the camelina plant, KLM aldo operated the world’s first commercial biofuel flight on June 29th 2011, using a blend of cooking oil recycled from restaurants to power a Boeing 737-800. The Dutch Inspectorate for Transport, Public Works & Water Management granted KLM permission to operate the return flight between Amsterdam and Paris Charles de Gaulle. Both flights had an almost full load of 171 passengers and KLM plans to operate some 200 AMS-CDG commercial flights powered in part by biokerosene from September 2011 on.
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KLM offers its Facebook fans the chance to be featured on a ‘Delft Blue’ Boeing 777

KLM has just launched a new social media campaign that invites Facebook users to convert their Facebook profile picture into a Delft Blue tile with an inspiring message. Four thousand of the most inspiring ‘Dutch Delft Blue tiles’ will then be placed on the body of a KLM Boeing 777-200. In KLM’s words: “KLM is proud of its Dutch heritage, in which Delftware played a huge role. Now KLM invites you to create your own Delft Blue tile, add an inspirational saying and you might end up on the body of a KLM Boeing 777-200.”

Delft Blue tiles are part of the Dutch tradition. The porcelain tiles were decorated with typically Dutch scenes, such as windmills or fishing boats. These Dutch scenes were commonly supported by some words of wisdom or an inspirational proverb. For nearly 60 years, KLM has also handed out small Delft Blue ceramic replicas of historical Dutch houses filled with Dutch ‘genever’ to passengers in Business Class.

The emphasis of KLM’s ‘Tile & Inspire’ campaign is on Facebook, but anyone can also create a personal Delft Blue tile via tileyourself.com and Hyves, the largest social network in the Netherlands. The campaign will run until the end of May 2011 and the tiles with the most creative messages will be selected by a jury of native speakers in English, Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Dutch, Norwegian and Swedish. The final 4,000 Delft Blue tiles will be randomly drawn out of the selected tiles and be featured on a KLM B777-200 aircraft from June 16 on. See this video for more on the campaign.

Update 10 May: KLM reports that in the first two weeks of the campaign nearly 50,000 people have created a personal Delft blue tile. Read full article »

KLM goes Dutch Design with tableware and amenity kits

Airlines such as Emirates and Singapore Airlines have teamed up with traditional French and Italian luxury brands like Bulgari, Ferragamo and Givenchy to offer passengers quality in-flight amenities, such as toiletry kits, tableware, blankets and pyjamas.

Dutch airline KLM is taking a slightly different approach as it is upgrading its onboard experience. Instead of teaming up with the classical luxury houses, the airline is emphasizing its Dutch origins by partering with contemporary Dutch designers Viktor & Rolf and Marcel Wanders for the creation of its onboard amenities. According to KLM, customers have indicated that they appreciate KLM’s typically Dutch character, so it decided to embrace Dutch Design.

Viktor & Rolf
At the start of the summer schedule on 27 March 2011, KLM has introduced Viktor & Rolf-designed comfort bags for passengers travelling in Business Class on long-haul flights. Different bags are available for men and women, and also contain a Viktor & Rolf branded toothbrush, toothpaste, socks, eye mask, lip balm, pen and ear plugs. A new design will be created each year over the next four-year period, and a new colour will appear every six months. The fashion duo’s bags proves to be popular: A few hours after KLM announced the Viktor & Rolf amenity kits, the first requests for them already started appearing on online marketplaces.

Marcel Wanders
On 27 March 2011, KLM also began serving meals in Business Class on both short- and long-haul flights offered on tableware designed by Marcel Wanders. The designer (of Moooi and Droog Design fame) has created porcelain, glassware, cutlery, linen and a tray for the airline in his signature shapely style. In designing the new service elements, Wanders has taken into account the wishes of its customers, the working procedures of cabin crew, and the weight and space restrictions of air travel (video here).
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Innovative airlines 2011: #7 KLM

In 7th place is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. Part of Air France since 2004, the Dutch airline is the eight largest airline in the world by international kilometers flown, transferring the majority of its passengers through its Amsterdam Schiphol hub, which is regarded as one of the best airports in the world. We have featured KLM several times on airlinetrends.com because of its innovative way of harnessing its Dutch origins, its focus on sustainability and several interesting social media campaigns. 

Dutch Design
For nearly 60 years, KLM has handed out small ceramic replicas of historical Dutch houses filled with Dutch ‘genever’ to passengers in Business Class. As KLM has produced almost a hundred different models since 1952, but carries only about 30 of the popular ‘status’ souvenirs on each flight, the airline recently launched an iPhone/Android app that lists all KLM houses, so passengers no longer have to bring crumpled notes with them in order to pick their favourite house. 

KLM is further emphasizing its Dutch origins by teaming up with Dutch designers such as Marcel Wanders (of Droog Design fame), who just created the airline’s Business Class tableware in his signature style (to be introduced in March 2011). KLM will also introduce an amenity kit designed by a well-known Dutch designer in Business Class in March 2011, while the airline’s crew in early 2010 changed into new uniforms designed by Dutch couturier Mart Visser

Sustainable catering
KLM is undertaking serious efforts to make its inflight catering more sustainable, opting for eco-friendly alternatives wherever possible. KLM is one of the few airlines that serve Rainforest Alliance-certified coffee on board as well as tea cultivated in a sustainable way. Other foodstuffs include organic eggs, bread, butter and wine, as well as meat sourced from farms that take the well-being of animals into account. KLM is also the only airline that regularly serves fish that has been caught in a sustainable manner, as certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. Catering to the ‘locavore’ trend, KLM in the last two months of 2010 served Business Class passengers on long-haul flights out of Amsterdam meals based on seasonal Dutch home-grown ingredients. Read full article »

KLM’s Delft Blue miniature houses get a full-scale version in Amsterdam

For nearly 60 years, KLM has handed out small ceramic replicas of historical Dutch houses filled with Dutch ‘genever’ to passengers in Business Class. Each Delft Blue miniature depicts a real Dutch house, and the houses are made using the same glazing process as the famous blue tiles produced in the Dutch city of Delft. KLM has produced almost a hundred different models since 1952, and every year on 7 October the airline presents a new house to mark its anniversary. All houses remain on offer, but KLM carries only about 30 on each flight. The houses have become a desirable collectors item and have generated a lively trade on websites such as eBay. KLM also recently launched a mobile app for iPhone and Android phones that lists all KLM houses, so passengers no longer have to bring crumpled notes with them in order to pick their favourite house. 

‘Out of the Blue’
The KLM miniature houses have also been the source of inspiration for a series of full-scale houses recently built In the centre of Amsterdam. In 2009, Stadsherstel Amsterdam, an organisation involved in urban restoration in Amsterdam, had been commissioned by the Municipality of Amsterdam to spruce up the ‘Oudezijds Armsteeg’, a badly run-down street in the city’s red-light district. The plan was to make the street attractive to tourists again by introducing business activities and giving it a real Amsterdam feeling. 

A flight in KLM’s Business Class provided the inspiration for a life-size version of the airline’s iconic Delft Blue houses in a project called ‘Out of the Blue’. Says Jaap Hulscher, deputy director of Stadsherstel Amsterdam, “I was flying in KLM Business Class and received one of those little KLM houses. This made me start noticing them everywhere around the world, and I realized that this is the traditional image people in other countries may have of how we live in the Netherlands. At the same time, nobody in the Netherlands has got this image.”
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The Next Frontier: KLM to sell tickets for suborbital space flights

KLM has partnered with Space Experience Curacao (SCX), a commercial suborbital space flight venture planning to operate out of its Space Port on the Caribbean island of Curacao. SCX will offer passengers a few minutes of weightlessness beyond Earth’s atmosphere and a view of the planet from about 105 km (65 miles) above ground. KLM has registered for the first flights from the island in the Dutch Antilles and also will be supporting future suborbital flights through promotion and sale of the tickets, for example as part of vacation packages to Curacao. The airline will also enable frequent fliers to put their points toward flights into space. KLM CEO Peter Hartman said of the new suborbital spaceflight partnership: “It is a fantastic project that totally fits the pioneering spirit of KLM.” A KLM spokeswoman said the airline still had to work out exactly what the criteria would be to earn a space flight ticket — which sells for EUR70,000 (USD95,000). 

XCOR ‘Lynx’
Space Experience Curacao was founded in 2008 by a former commander of the Royal Dutch Air Force and an air force test pilot and has backing from private equity investors and Hato International Airport in Curacao. The company signed a deal in October 2010 to lease a sub-orbital spacecraft called the ‘Lynx’ and a pilot from U.S-based XCOR Aerospace,. The Lynx takes off and lands horizontally and is designed to fly to over 100 km in altitude up to four times per day. The spacecraft has just two seats, meaning that it can carry just one passenger at a time who is sitting right up front like a co-pilot, instead of in back. The total flight time would be about 30 minutes, with the passenger experiencing just over four minutes of weightlessness. To see how an XCOR suborbital flight would look like, see this video (recommended). Pending U.S. government approvals for the spacecraft, Space Experience Curacao hopes to start flights in January 2014. Read full article »

KLM surprises Foursquare users with little acts of kindness

Combining social media with real-world interactions, KLM has launched a very innovative campaign in which it randomly surprises its passengers at the airport. In what the airline calls “an experiment on how happiness spreads,” KLM has installed a ‘Surprise team’ for four weeks at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport which aims to delight passengers that have checked in at KLM venues on location-based social network Foursquare with little acts of kindness.’

Counter-Googling
How it works: As soon as someone checks in at one of KLM’s Foursquare locations at Schiphol Airport or other airports in KLM’s network, the ‘KLM Surprise’ team goes online to find more background information about the person (a.k.a. ‘counter-googling’). Since many people (especially those that already use Foursquare) have profiles on social networks such as Facebook and Linkedin or twitter frequently, it is relatively easy to find some interesting facts about a person in order to come up with a creative surprise. The KLM team then goes all out to try to contact the person before his or her flight leaves.

Little act of kindness
Some examples of the ‘free love’ KLM is spreading: On Monday October 25th, the airline started the campaign with giving Tobias Hootsen, on its way to Dubai, a homesick package as he would be abroad for a long time. Another traveller, Willem van Hommel tweeted he would miss an important soccer game of his team, PSV Eindhoven, because he was flying to New York. The KLM team surprised him with a Lonely Planet of the city with all soccer bars marked in blue to make sure he wouldn’t miss the game. KLM passenger Dennis Claesen, meanwhile, was on his way to a conference in Boston when KLM surprised him with a handy notebook in which he could write down ideas. There was a personal message in it for a bit of inspiration. For more examples, follow KLM Surprise on Twitter or see the campaign’s Facebook page.
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Airlines increasingly make iPads available to passengers in the air and on the ground

Latvian national airline airBaltic is the first airline in Europe (and the second airline worldwide) to introduce the Apple iPad for inflight entertainment. The airline has teamed up with Bluebox Avionics to make the devices available to airBaltic passengers in the coming winter season, which starts in December 2010. The fee to rent an iPad inflight is expected to be a bit more (EUR9) than the amount airBaltic currently charges for its portable IFE device. The announcement by airBaltic is the latest in a series of introductions by airlines of the popular iPad device which was launched in January 2010. An overview of the initiatives sofar.

Jetstar
In June 2010, Qantas low-cost subsidiary Jetstar became the first airline in the world to offer the iPad for rent in a month-long trial on the Melbourne-Gold Coast and Melbourne-Cairns routes. Passengers could rent the device for AUD10 (USD8.50, EUR7.00) for the duration of the flight. The carrier at that time said it had bought several hundred iPad devices, with thirty units available on each test aircraft. Jetstar recently revealed the test was a success and that it is negotiating with Apple for ”thousands” of the devices for its fleet. The carrier is reportedly planning to begin roll-out of the device on 55 aircraft later this month and says that, based on the popularity of the trial, the number of iPads allocated to each aircraft has substantially increased.

Malaysia Airlines
According to Flight International, Malaysia Airlines (MAS) also plans to introduce iPads onboardwithin the next six months. The carrier plans to initially introduce iPads on its A330s, which only offer main-screen entertainment, and MAS is also considering bringing iPads on board some of its B737s. Despite being a full-service carrier, MAS has not ruled out charging passengers a fee or deposit to use the iPad. One option could be for passengers to book an iPad with their ticket purchase. Read full article »

Airlines go local and seasonal with their food offerings

Reflecting a growing food trend among hotels and restaurants, airlines are increasingly offering local and seasonal food onboard as they emphasize their national cuisine. This development also ties in with a number of other trends such as authenticity, storytelling, and the rediscovery of national and regional identities in a globalized world. Furthermore, offering local and seasonal produce supports local businesses and in some cases also results in a reduced carbon footprint. Some recent examples from around the world. 

SWISS ‘Taste of Switzerland
As part of its ongoing ‘Taste of Switzerland’ program, started in 2002, SWISS offers premium passsengers on medium and long-haul flights signature dishes from its cantons (regions). Every three months a new Swiss canton is selected (currently Vaud), and local produce is used as much as possible. Thanks to a recent collaboration with the country’s ‘Kaseunion’, Appenzell, Gruyere and Emmental cheeses are also served on board. 

Lufthansa ‘Discover Flavour’
On a similar note, Lufthansa’s ‘Discover Flavour’ catering concept, offers regional German specialities on board. The current program, ‘Discover Slow Food’, held in cooperation with the Slow Food organization, serves Business Class passengers on select long European flights four regional specialities, such as the ‘Diepholzer Moorschnucke’ (a rare breed of sheep from Lower Saxony) and the ‘Bamberger Hörnla’ (an old variety of potato grown near Bamberg). On domestic routes, Lufthansa currently serves marinated North Sea crabs on scrambled egg, and Hamburg vinegar-marinated meat as part of a ‘Discover Hamburg’ theme. Read full article »

KLM donates old uniforms for upcycling into new products

Following earlier initiatives by Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic (seat covers and curtains), KLM is upcycling its old uniforms into bags, belts and slippers. In April 2010, more than 11,000 female cabin crew, ground staff and pilots at KLM changed into new uniforms designed by Dutch couturier Mart Visser. All blue items of the previous female uniform were collected for recycling, which resulted in 90,000 kilos of fabric.

Because of security reasons, many airlines destroy discarded uniforms as wearing an old airline outfit could make it easier to slip through airport security illegally. Airline uniforms are also in popular demand for carnival or even worse in erotic clubs. For this last reason, Japan Airlines says it has recently marked its uniforms as its restructuring will make thousands of staff redundant. Second-had JAL uniforms can generate as much as EUR2,500 and are a popular ‘roleplay’ costume.

KLM says it has been looking for ways to discard its uniforms in a thorough but sustainable way. The airline has teamed up with Texperium, which was recently set up with the help of the Dutch government, and promotes the reprocessing of discarded textiles and the development of high added value products from recycled fibres. KLM is the first company to use a new machine which reduces textile to small flocks, which then become the basic material for new products. According to the airline the recycling of the 90,000 kilos of uniforms saves 500 million litres of water, 1 million cubic meter of natural gas, and 4,600 tons of CO2. See this video (in Dutch) for an impression of KLM’s upcycling process. 
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KLM pilot gives long-haul economy passengers option to order a premium meal

KLM has launched a pilot in which economy class passengers onboard its long-haul flights get the option to purchase a premium ‘a la carte’ meal, instead of the usual free meal service. The paid ‘a la carte’ menu includes a healthy Japanese meal, a tray with Italian delicacies, an Indonesian rice table, and a sustainable menu of organic chicken, vegetables, and cheeses. 

Economy passengers that have pre-ordered a premium meal will also be served first. Dishes cost EUR15 each and can be ordered and paid for when checking in online between 30 and 24 hours prior to departure. KLM says the goal of the paid premium catering option is to provide more choice for its wide range of passengers. The pilot will run until the end of August 2010 on flights from Amsterdam to Dubai, Cape Town, Bangkok/Taipei, and Singapore/Denpasar.
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Airlines go local with their inflight drinks

Catering to increasingly sophisticated passengers who want to try something new besides the generic soda and alcohol brands on their trip, a number of airlines are serving local niche beverages on board their flights. By adding an exclusive homegrown product to their in-flight beverage selection, these airlines also put an authentic element and a bit of storytelling to their brands, while at the same time supporting the local economy. Local drinks are often served on smaller airlines such as Virgin America, Porter and Brussels Airlines, as it is easier for local breweries to guarantee supply. 

Virgin America since December 2009 offers locally-made micro-brew beers ‘21st Amendment’ and ‘Gordon Biersch’, as well as premium alcoholic drinks from California, such as ‘VeeV Açai Spirit‘ and ‘Karma California Brut‘. Earlier in 2009, Shaun O’Sullivan co-founder of San Francisco-based micro-brewery ‘21st Amendment’ was onboard a Virgin America flight tweeting about the carrier’s in-flight experience and offered his ale as a potential menu item. As a result of his post and passenger requests for a larger onboard beer selection with more micro-brew options, the carrier added the California-made beverages to its inflight drink menu. 
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Airport vehicles go green

Many airlines and airports already try to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from operations on the ground where possible. JetBlue, Air France-KLM and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport are taking another step by introducing non-CO2 emitting ground vehicles.

JetBlue says it has just purchased a new environmentally-friendly utility truck for use by its technical operations team at New York’s JFK airport. The MILES electric work truck’s maximum speed is 25 miles an hour and travels 50-60 miles (80-95 km) on a charge. JetBlue says it plans to purchase additional vehicles to reduce its carbon footprint and consumption of fuel.
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British Airways and Air New Zealand latest airlines to launch online business communities

Realizing they are not only in the business of taking passengers from one destination to the other, but that they are rather connecting people, a number of airlines have launched social networks of their own in the past years. Think BA’s Metrotwin, Virgin Atlantic’s vtravelled.com, Air France-KLM’s Bluenity and American Airlines’ BlackAtlas.com. Other airlines, such as KLM (Club China, Club Africa, Flying Blue Golf), and Lufthansa (Miles & More MemberScout) have launched business-oriented social networks for members of their frequent flyer programs.

British Airways has just launched an online ‘Face-to-Face Community’ for small business professionals in the U.S, as part of its ‘Face-to-Face’ campaign. Initiated in July 2009, the airline’s ‘Face-to-Face’ program solicited stories from U.S small and medium companies on how a face-to-face meeting overseas would help them during the recession. The 1,000 winning entries received free travel on three special BA flights from New York, Los Angeles and Chicago to London and beyond to make their meetings a reality. BA says the people who went on the first Face-to-Face trips at that time asked how they could stay in touch with each other, hence the online network.
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Airlines team up with the general public to ‘fly their ideas’

Since airlinetrends.com is all about product and service innovation in the airline industry, what better topic is there than how airlines and airports are teaming up with the general public in order to generate ideas for new products and services. Air New Zealand, KLM, Virgin Atlantic and Airbus all recently launched co-creation/crowdsourcing/customer-made intitiatives. 

Air New Zealand ‘Aviation Design Academy’
Air New Zealand’s ‘Aviation Design Academy’ is asking the public to add a few finishing touches to the offerings in the airline’s all-new cabin. Participants can sign-up to create a mid-flight snack for travelers in Economy; a signature cocktail for Premium Economy customers; or a stylish eye mask for Business Class passengers, and ANZ will turn the winning ideas into actual products. The winner for each category will also win two free tickets on the inaugural flight of ANZ’s new B777-300 aircraft from Auckland to London in April 2011. The competition is open to people across the world, and submissions have to be in before 26 April 2010. 
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3floz.com only sells toiletries in airport security-approved sizes

The U.S Transportation Security Administration (TSA) ‘3-1-1 rule’ for carry-on luggage states that, in order to pass through security, liquids have to be 3 fluid ounce bottle (3 fl oz / 90ml) or less, packed in 1 quart-sized clear plastic zip-top bag, and passengers can carry on 1 bag only. With most U.S. airlines also charging for checked bags, air travel has become more of a hassle than ever. 

Targeting both the frequent flyer and the consumer who wants to try something new without committing to full-size pricing, 3floz.com is a smart new website that only sells mini-sized beauty products in a TSA-approved size. Launched in February 2010, the products range from deodorants, shampoos, moisturizers and shaving creams to teeth whiteners and facial serums for men and women and brands include well known ones such as Weleda, Dr. Hauschka, Avalon Organics, Malin + Goetz, The Art of Shaving, as well as the less familiar Air Repair Yes to Carrots and and Sprayology. 3floz.com offers free overnight shipping if customers supply an itinerary that shows their flight leaves within three days. 
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KLM first to carry passengers in biofuel flight

KLM_biofuel_c680x200 

KLM yesterday operated the first biofuel test flight in which passengers were aboard, flying a Boeing 747-400 with one engine powered by a 50:50 mix of a camelina-based biofuel and traditional kerosene. The flight took off from Amsterdam Schiphol and carried 40 select passengers, including KLM President & CEO Peter Hartman, technical experts and a number of Dutch politicians. The aircraft stayed in the air for about 1.5 hour before returning to Amsterdam. The biofuel used on the KLM flight is believed to emit up to 80 percent less carbon dioxide than conventional kerosene.

The KLM demonstration is the fifth biofuel-blend test flight in the past two years. Previous biofuel test flights, operated without passengers, were conducted by Japan Airlines, Continental Airlines, Air New Zealand, and Virgin Atlantic. The aviation industry has rallied behind development of drop-in replacement jet fuel derived from plants, such as camelina and jathropa: Inedible green scrubs that provide high energy content, which can be grown on marginal land not being used for food crops. Boeing is also looking into developing fuels produced from algae.
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KLM and Schiphol Airport use social network for innovation contest

KLM_CreativeChallenge_680x200

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, and Dutch social-networking site Hyves have launched a competition, called ‘Creative Challenge’. Hyves is  the largest online community in the Netherlands with over 9 million members.

The contest challenges young people (aged 15 to 25) in the Netherlands to present their visions of the future of the airline industry. Participants can write, design or make a video about their idea and post it on Hyves, where other ‘Hyvers’ can vote for it. The competition has been announced on October 26 and at last count over 700 ‘Hyvers’ have become a ‘friend’ of the contest. The ‘Creative Challenge’ is also advertised on passenger information screens at Schiphol Airport.
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KLM offers free personalized luggage tags, this time in North America

KLM_tag_680x200

Picture courtesy of Boarding Area 

KLM  (Royal Dutch Airlines) is inviting consumers in the U.S, Canada and Mexico to create their own personalized baggage label online, using a favourite holiday snapshot, company logo, creative design, or one of KLM’s preselected images. Anyone who subscribes to KLM’s email newsletter is provided with two free personalized luggage tags. After ordering their labels, participants can also join the airline’s ‘Picture yourself on KLM’ contest where they can win two tickets to any destination that KLM flies to.

In KLM’s own words: “Throw away those boring luggage tags and give your baggage a new look by designing your own, unique tag. You can use a photo of your family, your favorite destination, or, to make it easier, you can choose from one of the images pre-selected by KLM. Two tags will be made with your design to ensure you can easily recognize your bags among thousands of others.” Read full article »

Air France-KLM pilots emission-free airport vehicle

AirPod_AF-KL_a680x200

Motor Development International (MDI), which is run by a former aeronautics and Formula 1 engineer, has developed a zero-emission vehicle that runs on compressed air and is called the Airpod. The fiberglass-and-foam bodied AirPod can carry three people and is about 2 meters (6 feet) long and weighs roughly 220 kilos (450 pounds). The AirPod has a very small turning circle and is driven with one hand using a joystick system. Its air tank holds 175 liters of compressed air, which can be filled to 350 bar (5,076 psi) in as little as 90 seconds. That’s enough to give the AirPod a range of over 200 km (135 miles) and a top speed of almost 70 km an hour (43 mph).

The vehicles will be tested by Air France-KLM at Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris and Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. The carriers will use seven of the vehicles to transport passengers and light cargo at the airports. The AirPods slated for airport duty will be the first operational version of the concept in use. Two AirPods will perform tests for a minimum period of three months in the premises of KLM Egineering & Maintenance. One AirPod is adapted to transport parts and maintenance equipment and the other the transport of persons. The purpose of the use of AirPod is to reduce CO2 emissions on a portion of the distribution chain for which KLM is currently using traditional cars and trucks that run on diesel. Air France Industries is still waiting for the official document of approval to begin testing the AirPod.