AIRPORT / GROUND

Qantas lets lounge visitors order their coffee via their smartphone

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Taking a cue from Starbucks’ mobile ordering service, as well as fellow down-under airline Air New Zealand’s coffee ordering service, Qantas recently introduced a new service at its lounges across Australia that invites lounge visitors to order their barista-made coffee via their smartphone.

In an effort to offer peace of mind to busy travellers who have navigated traffic and queues at security before having to line up again in the lounge to get a barista-made coffee, Qantas has partnered with Skip, a free app that helps customers “skip the queue” by ordering and paying for coffee and food.

In the Qantas Clubs alone, baristas brew over 1,000 cups of tea and coffee every day. In an average week the Sydney Qantas Club sees the biggest demand for coffee, with 6am to 7am being the peak demand time.

The mobile ordering service has been available since July 2016 and the Skip app can be used to order coffee at Qantas Clubs and Business Lounges at Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney domestic airports.

Qantas passengers using the Skip app can also select the time they want to collect their coffee and receive a text message when their order is ready. In addition, touchscreens have been installed around the lounges so those who aren’t Skip users can order before walking up to the bar.

According to Skip general manager Bill Bizos during the soft launch most people preferred downloading the app to using kiosks. Read full article »

Following Lufthansa, EVA Air to roll out Rimowa’s digital luggage tag

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By Future Travel Experience

EVA Air has become the first Asian airline to adopt the RIMOWA Electronic Tag, the first fully integrated mobility solution for luggage.

RIMOWA Electronic Tag, which is already used by Lufthansa, will be implemented system-wide by fellow Star Alliance carrier EVA Air from 1 December. The exclusive announcement was made at Future Travel Experience Asia EXPO 2016 at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. RIMOWA also hosted an after-show event at its Marina Bay Sands store to mark the occasion.

The RIMOWA Electronic Tag suitcase features an embedded digital bag tag, which can be updated by passengers using the airline’s app. Passengers can submit data from their smartphone with just one tap, via Bluetooth, to the RIMOWA Electronic Tag and the e-ink digital display is updated with exactly the same information that would appear on a paper bag tag.

Dieter Morszeck, President & CEO of RIMOWA, said: “We are proud to be working with such a strong and experienced partner as EVA Air. The launch of RIMOWA Electronic Tag in Asia represents another milestone on the road to digitalisation in the travel industry.”

While EVA Air joins Lufthansa as an early adopter of the pioneering RIMOWA Electronic Tag solution, a number of other airlines are currently trialling the solution ahead of potential implementations in the near to medium term.

Emirates partners with Costa Coffee, Moet & Chandon and Voss Water for in-lounge bars

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By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

Emirates has unveiled their newly renovated business class lounge in Dubai International Airport’s concourse 2 after two years of work. At a cost of USD 11m the newly renovated space includes three new dining and drinking experience areas.

The new offering is in addition to the seven other locations within the vast lounge with gourmet cuisine prepared by on-site chefs and a complimentary full bar service, which includes premium wine, spirits and champagne.

The new spaces are all prime examples of brand experiences that are opening in lounges around the world, such as Etihad and Six Senses, Qantas and Rockpool or Air France and Clarins. Emirates has recently partnered with Costa Coffee, Voss water and the long-lasting relationship with Moët Hennessy is now also reinforced in the lounge experiences as well as onboard.

‘Barista Experience’
In the new lounge Costa has brought a ‘Barista experience’ to the lounge around the clock, with flat whites, Italian coffee blends and signature pastries on offer to passengers needing a strong wake up mid-journey. Read full article »

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Sign of the Times: Digital art installations at Changi Airport aim to engage today’s connected travellers

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Connectivity and digitalization are revolutionizing the airline passenger experience, most notably by empowering passengers to manage their journey by providing them with real-time information and on-demand services.

Tapping into the mindset of today’s connected travellers, Singapore’s Changi Airport has developed interactive art installations at its terminals in an effort to “engage, excite and encourage visitors to explore Singapore in and beyond the airport.”

Motion Silhouette Wall
Located at Terminal 2’s Departure Transit Lounge, the Motion Silhouette Wall uses motion-sensing technology to respond to movements in real time. Animated backdrops of Singapore landmarks such as the National Stadium and patterns change as passengers in front of the wall move and interact with the animation.

Dots Portrait Wall
Located at the other side of the installation and using the same motion-sensing technology, is a Dot Portraits Wall where passengers can make a monochromatic portrait of themselves taken at different spots of Singapore, such as Gardens by the Bay and Merlion Park. The finished image then appears on the screen in a black and white flip-dot display.

Passengers can send these portraits by e-mail to themselves as a ‘memento’ or can be forward to friends and family. Read full article »

Pre-flight IFE: How entertainment apps and kiosks are reshaping the IFE landscape

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By Ryan Ghee, Future Travel Experience

In-flight entertainment (IFE) has long been an integral part of the air travel experience. A wide array of content delivered on a high-spec screen can help to make a long flight a far more enjoyable experience. On the other hand, spending hours on end with no access to entertainment can make for a laborious journey.

Increasingly, airlines that have avoided offering IFE in the past – mostly low-cost carriers (LCCs) and those operating short-haul networks – are starting to take advantage of technological developments to offer entertainment content in various forms. In fact, the landscape is changing so rapidly that travellers are starting to question why some airlines, regardless of their business model or the length of the flight, are failing to offer at least some form of digital entertainment.

Portable, scalable onboard networks – such as those adopted by the likes of XL Airways, Iberia Express, and Arkefly – and which allow passengers to stream content to their own devices in-flight, have quickly gained traction, but some airlines are taking a slightly different approach.

Canadian carrier Air Transat offers a pre-flight content download service, while Transavia also offers something similar, albeit with a different provider.

IFE content at the airport
However, for those who are not quite as organised and don’t manage to download any content before leaving home, other solutions have emerged. If you’re flying with SWISS from Geneva Airport, you can now – well, for the next three months at least – download content to your smartphone or tablet while waiting at the gate or in a lounge.

The new ‘SWISS e-media’ service allows passengers to access a variety of content via a dedicated Wi-Fi network. If you download the SWISS e-media app, you can also download content to watch in-flight. The service has been developed in partnership with SITA, which is also responsible for the installation of ‘EntertainMe’ kiosks at London Heathrow’s Terminal 5. Read full article »

United takes ‘Lounge to Landing’ design approach for new ‘Polaris’ Business Class

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By Marisa Garcia

United Airlines hopes to outshine competitors with a redefined international Business Class experience – called Polaris – named after the brightest star in our night sky.

United and London-based design firm PriestmanGoode have worked on the design and development of the Polaris service over the past three years, with the aim of re-branding and redefining United’s proposition to the profitable, high-revenue corporate client.

The entire experience is designed to reverse any impression passengers may have that United offers customers a run-of-the-mill product.

On the ground
The United Polaris ‘experience’ starts with dedicated Business Class lounges designed to harmonise with the passenger experience in the cabin.

Each exclusive Polaris lounge features a dining area serving both a buffet selection and a la carte meals, as well as a tended bar. The lounges follow a common design plan with the active areas near the entrance, followed by the bar and buffet, and ‘calmer’ zones further inside—including shower suites and daybed rest pods.

PriestmanGoode have also created a bespoke seat for the lounge – named the Quad chair – which mimics elements of the Polaris seat up in the air. This private seating concept in the lounge includes coat and bag storage, a pull-out table with integrated tablet holder, and AC/USB charging points for personal electronic devices.

The Polaris lounges will only be accessible to Business Class passengers, with no access granted to United Club members or even top-tier MileagePlus frequent flyers booked in Economy. The exclusivity of the lounge to the airline’s Business Class customers provides added value to the ticket, ensuring that those customers can be confident not to be disturbed by crowds of frequent flyers claiming their mileage perks. Read full article »

SAS offers frequent flyers a space to meet and work in downtown Stockholm

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) is taking an innovative approach towards the development of its lounges by offering different lounge concepts for different moments of use. Last year, the airline opened the first of a series of Café Lounges around Scandiavia: mini-lounges located near gate areas where premium passengers can wait or work in comfort.

Tapping into the big shift in how a growing number of people work today, SAS in partnership with No 18 Office & Lounge, to open a City Lounge for its frequent flyers in downtown Stockholm, Sweden.

City Lounge
The SAS City Lounge is located at Birger Jarlsgatan 18, right in the center of Stockholm’s business district. City Lounge includes both open plan work areas and private meeting rooms where passengers can work and network.

Diamond members of SAS Eurobonus loyalty program (plus guest) can access the creative meeting place for free a day before and after their trip with SAS, but also at other times for a fee of SK299 (EUR32, USD37) per person. The City Lounge, which is open 9-17 on weekdays, includes wifi, coffee, tea, and concierge services. No 18 also offers SAS Diamond members to schedule an appointment with a personal trainer at their gym.

“We continuously aim to improve our offer to our frequent flyers. Inspired by other membership clubs around the world, we have now opened SAS City Lounge to offer people who fly with us frequently, opportunities to meet, work effectively or simply relax in a comfortable environment, even in the center of Stockholm,” says Stephanie Smitt Lindberg, VP Customer Journey & Loyalty, SAS. Read full article »

Schiphol Airport and MADE.com open branded pop-up living rooms at the airport

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By Marisa Garcia

Schiphol has partnered with online furniture shop MADE.com and opened several branded waiting spaces, giving passengers comfy living room oases at the bustling H- and M-piers.

These piers host low-cost carriers serving the airport. The MADE partnership was a good opportunity for Schiphol to spruce up the more austere terminal area, pleasantly surprising passengers.

MADE also gets to reach shoppers who might like testing out its more affordable high-design furnishings.

With a head office in London and an office in Shanghai, China, MADE minimises its overheads by selling online, and groups orders of the same item together to gain efficiencies from repetitive production. It does not own its factories, instead building close working relationships with independent factories and designers.

Rather than pay for permanent retail spaces, MADE has opened several pop-up showrooms, featuring a changing selection furnishings where customers can take away fabric samples and create wish-lists. The company recently opened its fourth European showroom at Amsterdam’s Overtoom street.

Brand partnerships
“Schiphol is the perfect partner to create a innovative and unconventional shop area,” says Damien Poelhekke of MADE. “Both Schiphol MADE are pushing a limit, in a new learning environment. So we go together on a journey to discover the customer of the future.”

For Schiphol, the pop-up terminal showroom was an opportunity to trial an alternative retail space model, while giving passengers something unexpected which would enhance their travels. Read full article »

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Chinese airports introduce female-only and male-only security lanes

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Tackling the airport security bottleneck is one of the main priorities for airports and airlines around the world with technology playing a major role in initiatives such as IATA’s ‘Smart Security’ program and Air France-KLM’s inventive biometrics-based ‘Happy Flow’ project.

Low-tech approaches
However, as a broad rollout of these advanced solutions is still some time away, several airports have come up with creative ‘low-tech’ approaches in order to help passengers navigate security faster.

For example, back in 2008 the US Transport Security Adminstration (TSA) introduced a scheme that let travellers self-select their security lanes based on their familiarity with checkpoint procedures. Modeled on signage used at ski resorts to rate a slope’s difficulty, travellers could choose between ‘black diamond’, ‘blue’ and ‘green’ lanes. However, the system was terminated several years later.

A few years ago, Pittsburgh Airport tested an interesting idea called ‘Express Security Lane’ which was reserved for passengers travelling with only one carry-on bag, while Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport provides an online service, called SecurXpress, that allows passengers to be assigned a time slot to pass through security screening, rather than queuing up at a random time.

Female-only security lanes
Another way to segment passengers at the security check has recently been introduced by Beijing Capital International Airport, which in early February opened female-only security lanes in the run up to China’s Spring travel season.

The new service at Beijing Capital aims to help speed up security checks by 15 percent at the airport, which is one of the world’s busiest. Airport officials have analyzed that, while normal lanes process 120 to 130 people per hour, female-only lanes can process 20 more people per hour.

The reason for this is that in China female passengers can only be checked by female security officers. Civil Aviation Security Check Regulations specify that “Pat-down procedures should be completed by officers of the same sex; when the traveler is a woman, only female officers can carry out the check.” Read full article »

Airlines and airports let passengers pre-order food via mobile apps

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This article also appeared in the December/January 2016 edition of Onboard Hospitality Magazine.

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Consumer behavior is changing. Smartphones make it quick and hassle-free to order goods online, or flag a taxi via Uber. This always-on, on-demand economy has generated a sense of entitlement to fast, simple, and efficient experiences as it taps into consumers’ appetite for greater convenience, speed, and simplicity. For example, analysis from Uber shows the longer Uber has been in a city, the less willing to wait for a car everyone becomes.

In the food and beverage industry, ordering and paying for food and beverages via tablet devices has become the new normal at casual dining chains such as Applebees and Chili’s across the USA, while airport restaurateur OTG has installed thousands of food-ordering iPads at half a dozen U.S. airports.

And a growing number of airlines – including Virgin America, Air New Zealand, Norwegian, Azul and Finnair – allow passengers to order meals, snacks and drinks via the IFE system in between regular meal services, while passengers onboard leisure carrier TUI Netherlands can order drinks and duty free via their own smartphone.

Skipping the queue
Saving consumers even more time, Starbucks this fall rolled out an order-ahead mobile application across all of its 7,000 stores in the USA, as well as across 150 Starbucks locations in London. As soon as people have ordered, the app gives them an approximate pickup time, and Starbucks estimates customers can save between 10 and 15 minutes using this option. A similar service is being tested by fast food chains McDonalds and Wendy’s.

At multiple airports in the USA, passenger can pre-order meals from airport restaurants, using mobile apps such as Grab, AirGrub and HMS Hosts’ B4 You Board, which saves them having to queue up for food and drinks, and provides some peace of mind for those who are running late for their flight.

Passengers using these pre-order apps select an airport restaurant, place an order, pay and schedule a time to pick up their meal. When they arrive at the restaurant in the departure hall the freshly made meal is waiting to be collected. Orders can be placed days in advance, or even when passengers are queuing at the security checkpoint. Read full article »

10 interesting airline passenger experience innovations launched in 2015

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At airlinetrends.com we continuously monitor the global aviation industry for product and service innovations launched by airlines in response to cultural, technological, and economic changes that influence airline customers’ needs and expectations.

The top product and service innovations we have selected to be among the most innovative concepts that have been launched this year reflect how airlines are becoming more creative in the design of new products and services as more airlines are embrading hospitality, design and technology as ways to differentiate the passenger experience.

Many of the examples on our list contain a major digital component, as the rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets, the option to be connected anywhere and anytime, and the self-service mindset of connected travellers, has created a huge momentum for airlines to come up with innovative products and services.

THE AIRLINETRENDS.COM TOP 10 INNOVATIONS FOR 2015

1. Netflix and Amazon inflight streaming deals are further proof of an IFEC revolution

By enabling passengers to stream content from Netflix and Amazon Prime onboard respectively Virgin America and JetBlue, satellite company ViaSat is also putting pressure on the current IFE content supply chain. ViaSat’s Don Buchman explained: “There was evolution happening and now it’s revolution. It’s similar to how the iPhone changed the mobile market. Amazon and Netflix are not traditional IFE players, but things are changing.” Read article »

2. Ryanair wants to become the ‘Amazon of travel’

Ryanair said it wants to become the ‘Amazon for travel’, with its new website to leverage personal data to offer customers hotel bookings and TripAdvisor-style reviews. Says Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary, “We now have an opportunity with the new website to build Ryanair.com not just as the airline’s website but as a kind of Amazon for travel in Europe.” Read article »

3. KLM’s Happy Flow shows the future of the airport passenger process

KLM’s ‘Happy Flow’ aims to revolutionize the airport process and uses facial recognition technology as the basis of a single passenger token, removing the need for passengers to present their passport and boarding pass at multiple stages of the airport journey. Read article »

4. Finnair’s new A350 features a host of innovative passenger experience elements

Finnair has been the first European airline to take delivery of the A350 and has come up with a series of innovative features, such as a ‘Space Alive’ mood lighting concept, a ladies-only lavatory and free wifi in Business, duty free pre-ordering via the inflight portal and an IFE-based visual ‘flight stages’ timeline. Read article »

5. Brazilian ‘value carrier’ Azul goes long-haul with full-flat Business beds, SkySofas, walk-up bar and IFE-based ordering

Brazil’s Azul, which can be regarded as the Brazilian equivalent of JetBlue, recently launched its new A330 cabin, which includes a fully fledged Business Class cabin, Sky Sofas in Economy, a walk-up bar, and the option to order F&B via the in-seat IFE system. Read article »

6. TUI lets passengers order F&B and duty free inflight via their own devices

Netherlands-based leisure carrier Arke (part of the TUI Group) has launched a trial in which passengers can use their own devices to order beverages, snacks and duty free items. Cabin crew receive the orders made by passengers on their tablet devices. Read article »

7. Transavia lets passengers download IFE content to their own devices pre-flight

Transavia allows passengers to download movies and TV programmes to their own electronic devices before their flight. As soon as the passenger boards the aircraft, the pre-downloaded content is activated and it is then automatically deleted at the end of the journey. Read article »

8. Pre-ordering of food and beverages is getting more popular with airlines and airports

In today’s always-on, on-demand economy the notion of pre-ordering food and beverages has evolved from a rather dull thing to do towards a smart move that is about convenience and getting the things you way you want. Examples from forward-looking airlines and airport F&B outlets. Read article »

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

China Eastern has launched an airline-specific version of Microsoft’s ‘XiaoIce’ – an intelligent personal assistant – which on Wi-Fi equipped aircraft allows passengers to socialize with other passengers, contact the crew (who are equipped with tablets) and send post-arrival pick-up reminders to people on the ground. Read article »

10. Air New Zealand lounge guests can order their favourite coffee via their smartphone

Taking a cue from Starbuck’s , Air New Zealand now lets flyers order barista-made coffee via its smartphone app the minute they walk into one of the airline’s Koru Clubs around New Zealand. Read article »

Japanese LCC Peach goes low-cost with cardboard check-in kiosks

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By Ryan Ghee, Future Travel Experience

Japanese low-cost carrier Peach has unveiled its inventive new self-service check-in kiosks, which are the first airline kiosks made largely of cardboard.

Cardboard has been used for the exterior of the kiosks, making it easier for the carrier to update branding and advertising imagery, and reducing the overall manufacturing and transportation costs.

Cardboard and touch-screen displays
Peach worked with Yaneura Design on the design of the new kiosks, which are taller than the previous generation of kiosks to help them stand out in the terminal. At 32 inches, the touch-screen display is 17 inches larger than the 15-inch screen found on conventional kiosks.

The large screen can be divided into two [image], allowing the carrier to display advertising or promotional content alongside the step-by-step self-service check-in instructions. The top half of the screen can also be used to prompt passengers waiting in line to have their passport ready, to help speed up the check-in process.

To make the experience as intuitive as possible for passengers, the kiosks automatically select the language that was used at the time of booking.

80 percent cost reduction
According to the airline, when compared to the cost of manufacturing traditional check-in machines of the same size, the new check-in kiosks can be delivered at approximately 20 percent of the cost.

Five of the new kiosks have been installed in Osaka Kansai Airport’s low-cost Terminal 2.

Emirates introduces wireless charging of electronic devices in its lounges

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Catering to frequent travellers who are suffering from so-called ‘battery anxiety’, Emirates has installed 30 wireless ‘inductive charging’ trays in its First Class and Business Class lounges in Concourses A, B and C at Dubai International Airport. The trays allow customers to wirelessly charge up their smartphones simply by placing them on top of the tray.

The carrier said it placed the trays — which use the Qi wireless charging standard and are compatible with Android, Blackberry and, with a cable, iPhone devices — in “highly visible” locations. Each tray can charge two devices simultaneously.

Commenting on the new services, Mohammed Mattar, Emirates’ divisional SVP of airport services, said: “Mobile devices are an intrinsic part of our lives, and at Emirates we see free wifi and wireless charging on the go, as becoming the norm in the future travel experience.

IKEA, Starbucks
In the past few years, wireless charging of personal devices has becoming more mainstream. For example, battery brand Duracel now offers a ‘MyGrid’ charging pad (In Duracell’s words: ‘drop & go charging’) for around USD 40, while IKEA has launched a furniture range that has wireless charging technology integrated into the surface.

Starbucks is also rolling out wireless charging pads at its coffeehouses in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas.

Delta lounge, Toronto Pearson Airport, SSP
Emirates introduction of the wireless charging pads follows several airlines and airports that have also jumped on this novel technology.

For example, Delta has installed Duracell’s wireless Powermats in the seating areas of its domestic SkyClub lounges. The wireless charging pads are designed for lower power charging devices such as cell phones, smart phones and e-readers. Adapters for a variety of different devices are available from Delta staff in the lounge. Read full article »

Delta’s ‘Early Valet’ service preloads passengers’ hand- luggage to speed up boarding

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

The process of boarding an aircraft is inefficient, as passengers entering the aircraft have to wait for other passengers who are busy placing their luggage in the overhead bins. They then quickly having to cram their own luggage into bins that are increasingly full, as many passengers try to take as much carry-on baggage with them into the cabin in order to avoid paying checked luggage fees.

In an effort to take some of the stress out of the boarding process and reduce expensive delays before take-off, many airlines have been looking for alternative procedures to optimize boarding, especially since a faster boarding process also speeds up aircraft turnaround times, reducing the time that aircraft needs to spend on the ground.

Pre-loading carry-on bags
Now Delta Air Lines is trying something new: This summer travel season, the airline plans to preload carry-on bags into the overhead bins on some flights.

The new system is called ‘Early Valet’ and will offer passengers on busy US routes the chance to have a steward take their luggage from them at the gate and place it in the compartment above their assigned seat.

Agents will ask customers seated in the gate area if they’d like to participate, Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant told NBC. “Their bag will be specially tagged, similar to what you’d see at a hotel for room delivery,” said Durrant, “and then taken down onto the aircraft before boarding and placed above a customer’s seat based on their seat assignment.” Read full article »

Delta lets passengers on domestic routes track checked bags in real-time and guarantees a 20-minute delivery

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Back in 1973, Domino’s Pizza introduced a guarantee that customers would receive their pizzas within 30 minutes of placing an order or they would receive the pizzas free. Over the years, Domino’s reduced this service guarantee to the slogan “You Got 30 Minutes,” alluding to the earlier pledge but stopping short of promising delivery in half an hour. Instead, the company introduced the Domino’s Pizza Tracker, an app and Web-based widget that lets customers check on the pizza they have ordered at every stage, providing real-time information that relieves anxiety.

Delta ‘Track My Bags’
Taking a cue from the pizza delivery business, Delta in 2011 became the first airline to make the baggage process more transparent for passengers by launching its ‘Track Checked Bags’ service.

Since bag tags are scanned during each part of the journey by airlines, Delta’s service lets passengers track their baggage in real-time as it makes its way through the Delta system, providing them with some peace of mind when they learn their luggage has been loaded onto their flight.

Available for domestic flights, Delta passengers can go online to track their checked baggage with the bag tag number they received at the time of baggage check-in. Passengers can use the ‘Track My Bag’ functionality on the Delta mobile app to scan their baggage tag with their smartphone camera.

And, as Delta has equipped its entire domestic fleet with GoGo’s in-flight Internet, passengers can even check up in the air whether their bag has made it on their flight using the free access to delta.com and the mobile app.

Surprisingly, Delta’s ‘Track My Bags’ service hasn’t been introduced by any other airline so far, who are clearly less willing to share this kind of data with passengers. The fast developments in digital luggage tags (a.k.a. ‘The Connected Bag’) will no doubt change this status quo though. Read full article »