AIRLINE STAFF / CREW

Emirates crew use smartphones to take Business Class passengers’ F&B orders


images by PaddleYourOwnKanoo

Staff taking drink and meal orders using a digital device is a common thing in bars and restaurants around the world. Meanwhile, casual dining restaurant chains and airport F&B operators now let customers place their orders themselves, either via a tablet provided by the restaurant or via an app on their own smartphone.

Now the airline industry is taking its first steps in this digitally-enabled F&B service. Besides the handful or airlines – including Air New Zealand, Japan Airlines, FlyDubai and Virgin America – that allow passengers to place orders via the in-seat IFE system, Emirates has recently issued so-called ‘Meal Ordering Devices’ to all its flight attendants who work in Business Class.

Meal Ordering Device (MOD)
Cabin crew recruitment portal PaddleYourOwnKanoo reports that the MOD smartphones connect to a plug-and-play WiFi router which is separate from the onboard connectivity system that passengers use.

All the smartphones (Samsung Galaxy A7) are synced to communicate with one another for the duration of the flight, don’t have a SIM card, and have been blocked from running any applications apart from the bespoke Meal Ordering app.

“The orders are taken on a hand held device and are instantly reflected on a tablet in the galley. Each order is then prepared immediately making service faster, more efficient and more personal,” said Terry Daly, Divisional Senior Vice President, Service Delivery at Emirates.

As Australian Business Traveller rightly puts it: “With as many as 76 business class passengers on an Emirates A380, the technology is proving to be a significant time-saver in keeping those premium passengers feed and watered – as well as ensuring what they’re served is precisely what they ordered, without slip-ups.” Read full article »

SriLankan captures real-time passenger feedback data throughout the journey

SriLankan_feedback_a680x345

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

As part of a trend that sees airlines and airports welcome real-time feedback from passengers via digital channels other than social media, Sri Lanka’s national carrier, SriLankan Airlines has launched a comprehensive customer satisfaction platform which captures feedback from passengers throughout the journey, from booking to overall satisfaction measures after the return home.

The airline has set up various ways for customers to share their impressions of service quality at its Colombo Ticket Office service counters, on its website, at the check-in counters at Colombo Airport, inside its lounge at the airport – as well as on-board through a dedicated application on iPads issued to cabin service managers.

There is also a survey app incorporated into the airline’s IFE system, plus a feedback module incorporated in SriLankan’s mobile app. Once the journey has ended, customers also receive an email request to evaluate their journey. All surveys are available in five languages: English, Sinhala, Tamil, Chinese and Japanese.

The passenger feedback which was initially gathered through a paper-based system has evolved gradually and the airline has now developed a full-fledged system where they could amass the treasured thoughts of passengers via digital media. Feedback data combines a full set of passenger profiles such as name, gender, ethnicity, travel preferences and their service aspirations with flight information into a data warehouse which further enables SriLankan to create a rich set of analytics, identify trends and strengthen customer relationships.

“Today we are serving an informed, tech savvy, demanding customer. We understand the service expectation can be delivered by working smart. We recognise that technology can bring the speed and sophistication to serve today’s customer,” says Mr Chanaka Olagama, Head of Cabin Services, SriLankan Airlines.

Real-time alerts
To ensure prompt responsiveness to service interruptions and critical issues which affect passenger satisfaction, real time alerts for immediate service recovery or negative feedback from passengers are sent to the supervisor of each customer touch point via text messages.

Additionally, live dashboards display the overall mood of customers through color-coded cards which reflect passenger satisfaction ratings, based on feedback received. Read full article »

Air New Zealand to track unaccompanied minors via digital bracelet and mobile app

ANZ_UM wristband_680x423

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

The ubiquity of personal devices, the availability to be connected anywhere, and the self-service mindset of travellers, has created a momentum that sees many of today’s passenger experience innovations taking place in the digital realm.

For example, Air New Zealand – already noted for its adoption of digital technologies – recently announced it has created the new role of ‘Chief Digital Officer’, as part of a rethink of how the airline approached digital innovation.

The New Zealand Herald also reports that Air New Zealand has just unveiled a host of digital novelties aimed at removing customer pain points, and is working on the development and introduction of permanent digital bag tags, biometric scanners for luggage dropoff, electronic departure cards, and a tracking system for kids flying alone using digital wristbands.

Some of these digital services will be introduced at the end of the year, while others are being looked at as a possibility for the future.

Tracking unaccompanied minors
One eye-catching innovation are the digital wristbands for unaccompanied minors (kids who are flying without their parents). Taking a cue from Disney’s ‘Magic Band’, Air New Zealand is planning to introduce an electronic tracking system for the 28,000 unaccompanied minors it carries per year. The high-tech bracelets replace a paper system and aim to provide parents with more peace of mind, as they will be able to receive real-time information on where their child is during the journey.

How it works: According to the NZ Herald, unaccompanied minors will be offered a silicon wrist band in the colour of their choice which contains a chip that connects to a mobile application.

The app will allow Air New Zealand employees to easily identify the child and send intermittent text messages to parents and family of the child, notifying them where their child is in the flight process and how they are doing. Read full article »

China Eastern trials ‘intelligent personal assistant’ for in-flight service

CEA_XiaoIce_b680x342

By Kai-Chin Shih, >talkairlines

As airlines around the world are currently in the process of developing an digital inflight infrastructure (e.g, Internet connectivity, aircraft intranet, inflight portal) and the latest generation of in-seat IFE systems has adopted the Android platform, the next phase for airlines is to develop innovative applications that differentiaite to the passenger experience.

For example, on the IFE system of its new B787 Dreamliners, Air New Zealand and Panasonic have created a ‘digital crew call button’ app that lets passengers message the crew, as well as a dedicated digital button to order a glass of water and have it brought to their seat.

Similar functionality has now also been rolled out by China Eastern – China’s second largest carrier by passenger numbers. The airline is not using the seat back IFE system, though, but has partnered with Microsoft to develop an airline-specific version of Microsoft’s ‘XiaoIce’ (東航小冰) intelligent personal assistant.

Intelligent Personal Assistants
‘XiaoIce’ – which translated a ‘Little Ice’ – is an intelligent personal assistant (IPA) launched by Microsoft in 2014. IPAs are software programs that can complete tasks assigned by the user or provide answers to users’ questions.

Currently, the most widely known IPA is Apple’s Siri, which uses voice recognition to send messages, make calls and obtain answers to simple questions, such as those related to the weather and historical facts, on behalf of users.

Microsoft also has developed its own IPAs, respectively called Cortana and XiaoIce. While Cortana provides functions similar to that of Siri and can only be accessed through Windows-based devices, XiaoIce has been developed to be used on social media sites such as Sina Weibo, can be used virtually anywhere. XiaoIce learns from not only past conversations with the user but also those from all around China. With these resources, it can engage in very life-like conversations and has a bit of a funny character of its own. Read full article »

Turkish Airlines asks passengers for instant feedback at check-in counter

THY_feedback checkin_680x263

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Social media has provide passengers a powerful platform to voice their opinion on their travel experience. In a response, the airline industry is among the most pro-active sectors that monitor the online conversation.

Furthermore, 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, Singapore Changi
For example, KLM has launched a mobile app that allows the airline’s passengers to give real-time feedback on how they perceived their experience at the airport. After downloading the KLM Feedback app, passengers first choose the airport they are currently at 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.

Singapore’s Changi Airport has installed an instant feedback system at selected check-in desks, immigration counters, retail stores, dining outlets and washrooms. Passengers can rate frontline service staff or the level of cleanliness on a five-point scale using interactive touchscreens. They can also indicate what they like or dislike.

Turkish Airlines
Another recent example comes from Turkish Airlines, which last month implemented a customer satisfaction measurement system at its İstanbul hub in order to measure passenger perception of the check-in process at staffed desks in real-time.

The airline has placed survey devices – red and black-cased models to distinguish respectively Economy and Business Class service areas– on its check-in counters.

How it works
When the airport agent starts the check-in process, the survey device is activated and greets passengers by their surname. The welcome screen also shows the name of the serving agent and asks passengers to rate the service. Passengers can start the survey themselves by touching the sceen or alternatively a rating screen appears automatically when the check-in process is finished. Read full article »

KLM lets friends and family surprise their loved ones with a ‘seat cover’ greeting

KLM_Cover Greetings_a680x379

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

KLM is on a roll when it comes to surprising passengers with unexpected touches. In the past months, the airline has set up a dedicated ‘Lost & Found’ team at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport that aims to reunite lost items as soon as possible with their legitimate owner. The team uses all available information like seat number, phone numbers and public social media details to reunite passengers with their belongings a.s.a.p.

And last month KLM took its social media-based customer service to another level with a bold campaign called #HappyToHelp. During five days, a dedicated team scanned social media for any passenger facing travel woes throughout the world, and responded with real-time answers and support.

Cover Greetings
Showing the sheer diversity of stories of passengers travelling on the same aircraft on a given day, KLM’s latest effort is called ‘Cover Greetings’ and involved placing a personal message from loved ones staying at home to their boyfriend, girlfriend or relative on the headrest of their KLM aircraft seat.

The airline spotted people saying goodbye to their families at the departure gate, then whisked their relatives away to a place where they could decorate a seat cover with their own message. KLM together with AmsterdamSchipholAirport worked together to ensure that the personal message was placed on the right seat in the aircraft.

This made for an unexpected and touching moment for the passengers who boarded the plane as they saw a headrest cover made especially for them.

The moving video showing the cover greetings and passenger’s responses can be watched online and is also currently played on a large, centrally located, screen at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

Although the stunt took place on a single day, involving passengers from three different flights, the airline says it might develop ‘Cover Greetings’ into a permanent service.

Airlines encourage passengers to provide service feedback via apps and cards

Airline crew instant recognition_b680x282

This article earlier appeared in Onboard Hospitality Magazine.
Download as pdf »

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.
Read full article »

Korean Air’s personal grooming training now offers makeup lessons for men

Korean Air_male grooming_a680x319

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

While the metrosexual trend, featuring David Beckam as its icon, has been coined by Marian Salzman almost a decade ago and has been declared passé many times before, the South Koreans are having none of it. Being one of the most competitive and beauty-conscious countries in the world (plastic surgery is common practice), South Korea is also one of the most ‘attractive’ markets for male cosmetics, with make up for men being the latest craze.

According to Euromonitor, South Korea is the biggest market for male grooming products, accounting for 18 percent of the world’s male cosmetic market in 2011. Eyeliner and so-called BB cream (a foundation like tinted cream that is primer, protector, concealer and skin regulator all in one) are considered perfectly acceptable for male celebrities and for an increasing number of ordinary men.

Male grooming
CNN now reports that South Korea’s flag carrier, Korean Air, has also gotten onto the male cosmetics bandwagon. Last month, 74 new male recruits gathered at the Korean Air flight attendant training center in Seoul to learn all about skin care, makeup and grooming.

The so-called “image making for service men” made sure all the new staff were well versed in the application of sunscreen (to protect skin from premature aging), skin care (to ensure smooth, clean and blemish free faces) and the correct application of BB cream. In the past, Korean Air’s makeup classes have been available only for its female staff, and this marked the first time its male staff received such lessons.

The airline brought in makeup professionals for the occasion, which was geared towards the airline’s new ground staff. Flight attendants did not receive the makeup training. “We plan on continuing the image-enhancing education, including basic makeup training, in the future,” said Korean Air public relations representative Hyun-mook Cho.
Read full article »