AIRPORT / GROUND
By Marisa Garcia
8 June 2016 | 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 »
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
4 June 2016 | 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.
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 »
By Marisa Garcia
16 May 2016 | 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.
“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 »
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
1 March 2016 | 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.
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 »
This article also appeared in the December/January 2016 edition of Onboard Hospitality Magazine.
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
15 January 2016 | 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 »
24 December 2015 | 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 »
By Ryan Ghee, Future Travel Experience
28 October 2015 | 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.
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
20 June 2015 | 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.
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 »
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
15 June 2015 | 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
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
5 May 2015 | 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 »
By Malgorzata Lach, smartaer.com
1 May 2015 | Obeying restrictions and rules put upon passengers by safety regulators and airlines is unavoidable in air travel. The nature of regulations can also vary, making it harder for the travelling public to get their travels organized. Furthermore, some of the limitations come up unexpectedly for inexperienced travellers and require immediate reaction.
In response, a few forward-looking airports in Northern Europe decided to turn things around and change those unanticipated situations into positive outcomes.
Overweight Baggage Dropp Point (Rygge Airport, Norway)
One rule that certainly affects the majority of the travelling public is the baggage weight limit. When dealing with an overweight bag issue, some passengers decide to stick to their plans and pay the additional charges in order to check in what they have packed, while others go through their suitcases and remove the stuff they need the least. In the worst case they will have to dump some of their belongings in a waste bin at the airport.
To ease the pain of leaving ones personal possessions behind, Fretex – a Norwegian chain of second hand stores that is run by the Salvation Army – came up with a creative solution. The charity organization partnered with Moss Rygge Airport, which is located 60 kilometres from Oslo, Norway, to install an ‘Overweight Baggage Drop Point’.
Consisting of a weighing scale and an used clothing container, the dedicated area allows travellers drop off their clothes to avoid extra charges and at the same time do something good by donating them to those in need. Video of how the charity service works here. Read full article »
Air France lets passengers waiting at the gate play a digital game for a chance to win an upgrade to Business
This case appears in the February 2015 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by airlinetrends.com and Simpliflying that identifies the latest innovative marketing campaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »
13 February 2015 | To raise awareness in the Asia Pacific region of the new cabins on its B777s, Air France has developed a mobile game called Cloud Slicer, which allows travellers to compete for an instant upgrade on their flights.
This game was first launched at Singapore Changi and Osaka Kansai airport in late 2014 when passengers were handed tablets and encouraged to play Cloud Slicer, where they had to swipe the screen to cut up clouds and compete for high scores.
More than 400 passengers in the boarding gates participated in the 15-minute game. Scores were displayed in real-time on three larger screens located at the boarding gates. 15 lucky top scorers in Singapore and six in Osaka were instantly upgraded to Business Class on their flight and received their new boarding passed from the pilot himself. Video of the event here.
From January 19 2015, the competition has been extended to a regional level. All Air France passengers flying from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia or Japan can download the game (iOS or Android) and compete against each other. The best scorers of the month in each country will have the chance to be upgraded on their next flight to Paris.
Three top scorers were picked on January 31st and another three will be selected on February 27th to win free upgrades on their upcoming flights. The contest is only open to ticket holders who will travel between February 15 and December 31, 2015 and is based on seat availability on the travel date.
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
23 January 2015 | While passengers travelling in Business and First and upper-tier members of frequent flyer programs can wait for their flight in the comfort of the airline lounge, Business Class passengers still have to wait with the ‘hoi polloi’ at the gate before boarding the aircraft via a fast lane (ideally). First Class passengers often have a transfer to the aircraft from the lounge in a private car, or are escorted onboard directly.
SAS ‘Café Lounge’
To improve waiting time at the gate for premium passengers, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has announced it will open a new Café Lounge concept at Trondheim and Tromsø regional airports in Norway this spring.
The SAS Café Lounges at the gate will complement existing SAS lounges at these airport and can be used by the airline’s ‘Plus Class’ passengers, Business Class passengers travelling with Star Alliance airlines and Gold and Diamond members of SAS’ EuroBonus loyalty program.
SAS says it aims to provide passengers with a dedicated, relaxing and working environment close to the departure gate and offer WiFi internet access, tea, coffee and pastries. They are designed so that business travellers can work right up until boarding the aircraft.
Says Eivind Roald, EVP Commercial at SAS, “Our most frequent flyers appreciate time saving services such as Fast Track, which is why we are now offering an additional service designed especially for them. Fast flows are important on our domestic market and customers can work effectively in our Café Lounges located close to the gate.”
The SAS Cafe Lounge at Trondheim airport is scheduled to open in April and the facility at Tromso airport in May. Later this year, the airline will open further SAS Cafe Lounges at other Scandinavian airports.
Read full article »
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
15 January 2015 | Ordering food and beverages via tablet devices is rapidly becoming the new normal at casual dining restaurants across the USA (e.g, chains such as Applebees and Chili’s), while airport restaurateur OTG has installed thousands of iPads at half a dozen U.S. airports.
Furthermore, forward-looking airlines such as Virgin America, Air New Zealand and Norwegian allow passengers to order meals, snacks and drinks via the IFE system. Allowing passengers to order via their own smartphone will be a logical next step.
And, following the success of its mobile payment app, Starbucks last October introduced its first order-ahead mobile application in Portland, Oregon, in a bid to speed up service and boost sales. The first stores in Portland allow iPhone users to order using the Starbucks app before they arrive. Customers typically will have to wait about five minutes for their drinks and food to be ready after placing an order through the app.
Air New Zealand lounges
Tapping into today’s ‘coffee culture’ Air New Zealand has been featuring barista’s who make freshly brewed coffee to passenger’s preferences in its ‘Koru’ lounges for some time. Lounge guest could order their favourite coffee by ticking a few boxes on a piece of paper, add their name and hand it over.
In a clever move, flyers now can order barista-made coffee via ANZ’s tablet or smartphone app the minute they walk into one of the airline’s Koru Clubs around New Zealand, including its international lounge at Auckland Airport. Read full article »
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
27 November 2014 | 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.
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 »