CABIN / SEATS

Panasonic’s Waterfront concept suite lets passengers customize their inflight experience with their smartphone

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

In a time when the personal device (smartphone, tablet) is becoming the digital controller of just about every surrounding device (think Sonos, Google Chromecast, or Philips Hue), Panasonic’s new Waterfront concept seat – unveiled at last month’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas – demonstrates ‘the art of possible’ when the personal devices gets integrated with the aircraft seat.

The Waterfront seat is the result of a partnership between Panasonic, B/E Aerospace, Formation Design Group and TEAGUE and follows last year’s JAZZ IFE/seat Economy concept.

Holistic experience
According to Panasonic, the objective with the new seat is to “take care of a passenger’s wellbeing in a more holistic way.” Using B/E Aerospace’s Super Diamond seat as platform, the Waterfront seat features a full privacy door, which “gives a First-Class feel within the confines of a Business Class footprint,” as RGN puts it.

Other features of the Waterfront include customizable LED lighting (the interface has been coupled to hundreds of individually controllable full spectrum LEDs across the entire seat) and climate controls that adjust the temperature in the suite. Passengers can recharge their devices using one of the AC and USB ports or just place it on a wireless inductive charging panel.

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Personal device as remote controller
The centerpiece of the Waterfront suite though is a 24-inch high-definition 4K touchscreen monitor placed in a seamless edge-to-edge glass structure, which can connect to a passenger’s smartphone app.

According to Australian Business Traveler passengers will be able to control the in-flight entertainment system AND the suite’s environment from their phone or from a supplied 7″ tablet.

The integration of the personal device and the Waterfront tech system is done via a technology called ‘light ID’, which has been developed by Panasonic and which uses a LED as the light source so that smartphones can read optical ID signals containing various kinds of information. According to Panasonic, the airline would provide the wireles controller application for passengers to download. Read full article »

SWISS adds a creative touch to the galley areas on its new B777-300ERs

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

SWISS just took delivery of its first new B777-300ER aircraft. One of the things we like about SWISS’ new flagship interior is the creative touch that the airline and design agency Priestmangoode have added to the galley areas.

Welcome Onboard
On most widebody aircraft, the first impressions passengers get when entering the aircraft at the so-called ‘door 2’ is the sight of an industrial-looking galley area. In an effort to create a more welcoming environment, a growing number of airlines are adding design touches to this door 2 area.

As aviation journalist Marisa Garcia from FlightChic puts it: “Of course, airlines still buy the generic and utilitarian galleys, but the trend is towards cabin monuments serving a second life as welcome zones or customer social areas, at least for wide-body aircraft. Beyond looking pretty, putting this functional space to work as an element of the passenger experience is smart design thinking.”

Recent examples include Finnair, which for its new A350s has come up with a clever (and economic) solution by installing galley screens that are lowered when passengers are boarding and which feature a striking photo of Finland’s nature.

On the other end, Etihad has gone all out with the creation of a ‘welcome lobby’ on its A380s, which features dark wood fretwork panels, screens and doors and recreates the feeling of entering a boutique hotel.

SWISS, meanwhile has added rollable screens that cover the working areas in the galley and the galley walls feature an illuminated welcome panel, as well as an illuminated world map in an oak wood finish. According to the airline it has treated the entrance to its new B777-300ER “like a reception with a welcoming entrance that that mirrors that in the reception of the SWISS lounges at Zurich airport.” Read full article »

JetBlue to install connected in-seat IFE ‘experience’ across A320 fleet

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By Ryan Ghee, Future Travel Experience

JetBlue has announced a major A320 cabin restyling, which will include the introduction of what it calls a “fully connected in-seat experience.” New 10-inch, high-definition, Internet-enabled in-flight entertainment (IFE) screens, more than 100 live television channels and in-seat power outlets and USB ports are among the key features.

Android-based ‘connected’ IFE
JetBlue becomes the first airline to sign up for the new streaming television IFE system from Thales – called STV+ – which is built on the Google Android platform. The carrier said in a release this opens “unlimited possibilities for custom app and widget development, live content streaming, audio-and-video-on-demand, and personal device pairing.” In addition, the IFE system offers access to content stored locally on the aircraft.

The new IFE experience represents a major upgrade to the existing standard-definition, 5.6-inch screens and 36 channels of live DirecTV that can currently be found on JetBlue’s A320s.

Passengers will also have gate-to-gate access to the Fly-Fi connectivity service, meaning they can browse the Web and even stream movies on Amazon Prime before and during take-off and after landing.

The cabin redesign will also incorporate a number of features introduced on the A321s in 2014, including the B/E Aerospace Pinnacle seats with moveable headrests and LED cabin lighting. The reconfigured A320s will feature 162 seats – 12 more than at present – but the carrier will maintain a 33-inch pitch. Airbus’ Space-Flex v2 galley and lavatory module will also be introduced on the A320 and A321 all-core aircraft. Read full article »

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Boeing’s next-gen mood lighting uses light projection to animate the aircraft cabin

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

With mood lighting now being a standard feature on new aircraft deliveries, several airlines have also started to retrofit LED lighting into their older cabins. Furthermore, besides taking a ‘generic’ approach towards mood lighting – that is, recreating sunset on evening flights and sunrise in the morning – airlines are also looking to extend their brand inside the cabin by developing signature lighting schemes.

Examples of airlines that have taken a forward-looking approach to mood-lighting include Icelandair and Finnair, who have developed custom Northern Lights scenes that pulls in shades of blue and green that dance through the cabin. Virgin America is known for its iconic purple and red mood lighting, while sister airline Virgin Atlantic has given its various mood lighting settings names like ‘rose champagne’, ‘purple haze’ and ‘amber warmth’.

Says Daniel Baron, founder of Tokyo-based design agency LIFT Strategic Design, “Airlines should use mood lighting as an integral part of the brand presentation, or as association with origin. As the systems become more sophisticated and available on more aircraft as line-fit items, more meaningful differentiation with the lighting, i.e., not just as a novelty, will become the norm.”

Next-generation mood lighting and projection
A new video from Boeing – who made mood lighting one of the prominent cabin features of its 787 Dreamliner and 737 Sky Interior – shows how cabin lighting is further evolving beyond mood lighting to include project technology and high-definition animations that bring the cabin to life.

“Airlines could use these lighting enhancements on the walls and bulkheads to display information about the destination or to project scenes that get passengers thinking about where they’re going,” said Mike Sinnett, Boeing’s VP of Product Development. “These ceiling projections could be scenes found in nature or helpful information for passengers projected on the walls and bulkheads,” he said. “The possibilities are endless about how this technology could be used.” 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 »

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

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Finnair has been the first European airline to take delivery of the A350-900 and the third carrier worldwide (after Qatar Airways and Vietnam Airlines). Finnair’s 297-seat aircraft is configured in three classes with 208 seats in Economy, 43 in Economy Comfort and 46 in Business. Following a month of ‘familiarization flighs’ to European destinations, Finnair’s first A350 will begin operating long-haul routes between Helsinki and Shanghai on November 21st.

There is a lot to like about Finnair’s (and its design agency dSign Vertti Kivi & Co) approach towards designing the A350 onboard experience, which features several innovative elements.

1. Welcome Onboard: Galley Screen
On most widebody aircraft passengers enter the cabin at the so-called door 2 and often their first impression is the sights of an industrial-looking galley area. Finnair has come up with a clever (and economic) solution by installing galley screens that are lowered when passengers are boarding and which feature a striking photo.

Marisa Garcia from FlightChic summarizes it nicely: “There is a very clever introduction of Finland’s lush green nature with a calm forest image in a galley screen, which I found was an attractive detail. It helps the cabin feel fresh, quieting the disturbing visual noise of galley equipment. It’s really a very simple thing, but Finnair took the time to consider it.”

2. Mood Lighting: Northern Lights
A remarkable feature of the cabin is the dynamic mood LED lighting. When passengers board the plane, they are greeted by the sight of clouds drifting across a blue sky throughout the cabin (video), while cool Nordic blue shades resembling the Northern lights will set the mood as the plane approaches Helsinki.

In all, there are 24 lighting schemes, and for example a warm orange glow can be created to suggest an Asian ambience on flights to the Far East. Says Juha Järvinen, Finnair’s Chief Commercial Officer, “Finnair’s new Airbus aircraft feature a cabin interior largely based on the Space Alive concept developed by dSign, where the main idea is to change the mood of the cabin space as the flight progresses.”

The mood lighting is also integrated with the in-seat IFE system. Jouni Oksanen, VP Digital at Finnair tells Hangar.no, “We’ve also added a timeline for dimming of the displays. This means that during the flight the screens will adapt to the time zones the aircraft passes. When it’s night outside, it will be night on the screens so it does not light up a whole bunch of bright displays that disturbs people who want to sleep.”

3. Business Class: Ladies’ Room
Female passengers in Business Class have access to a dedicated Ladies’ Room which is stocked with cosmetics and other supplies from Finnish brand Clean (images here and here). Australian Business Traveller reports that the ladies-only lavatory will be made available to “high-flying hommes” in the event that there’s a higher than usual proportion of men to women in business class, but as a rule it will be reserved for women. Read full article »

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

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By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

Brazil’s Azul, which can be regarded as the Brazilian equivalent of JetBlue, recently launched their new A330 cabins, which include Azul Xtra (a fully fledged Business Class cabin), Economy Xtra (including the infamous SkySofa product) and a standard Economy cabin.

Now flying to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale (Miami) from Sao Paulo’s Viracopos airport, Azul’s A330s will eventually be rolled out to potential new destinations such as New York and Madrid.

Designed with a short lead time by UK based design agency Tangerine, the cabins manage to encapsulate the Azul brand by adapting off the shelf products, and working with the manufacturers to change colour, finish and trim. As an added element of customisation, a walk up-bar has been introduced into one of the galleys to create a social space, and area to allow passengers to stretch their legs.

“Our focus for the project was to rapidly customise a catalogue version of Stelia’s Solstys business class seat and create a bar from a galley. Importantly we had to design and develop all of the colour, material & finish for the seating and cabin, to work on both the A330 retrofit and A350 line-fit aircraft.” said Martin Darbyshire, CEO of Tangerine.

Full-flat beds in Business
In Business Class, passengers are provided with all aisle access in a 1 x 2 x 1 seat configuration, with an identical hard product to those found on Etihad, Air Berlin, Iberia, Thai just to name a few. The seats convert into a full 79″ flat bed and offer a 16″ screen.

Considering Azul hadn’t offered a Business Class or long-haul product before, creating a new product from scratch could have been seen as a tricky task. “Working closely with Azuls’ brand team we were able to co-work and quickly define the right way to build on Azul’s colour palette, moving it into a more sophisticated positioning. Patterns were developed that connect to well-known icons of Brazil, such as the pattern of tiles from Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, used subtly to add a Brazilian zing to the cabin.” said Tangerine’s Derbyshire. Read full article »

Hawaiian Airlines goes boutique with new A330 Business Class

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By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

Watch out Fiji Airways, there is a new boutique airline vying for the attention of the Pacific. Hawaiian Airlines revealed their plans to install a brand new lie-flat business class product that matches international standards.

Entering the skies in 2016, the new ‘Premium Cabin’ product will offer 18 customers on each of their A330’s a new level of comfort. The 180-degree lie-flat seats were developed in partnership with Hawaiian Airlines by Optimares.

“We have designed an experience that will usher in a new era in premium service to Hawai’i, one that resulted from a thorough review of guest feedback and intensive research to develop a best-in-class product for our long haul aircraft,” said Mark Dunkerley, President and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines. “Together with our partners at Optimares and PaulWylde, we have created a truly bespoke design that delivers world-class comfort and style, while staying true to our island roots.”

The 3 rows of seats, configured in a ‘honeymoon favourite’ 2 x 2 x 2 layout will convert into 76″ long (6’4″) beds which will not only allow passengers travelling together to enjoy themselves, but with the clever inclusion of a retractable privacy screen, also offer passengers travelling alone, a modicum of privacy too.

Whilst not all passengers will benefit from all-aisle access, the seats are light-years ahead of Hawaiian’s current recliner-style seats and the space between each seat is ample enough to be able to step over your partner if situated in a window seat.

Unlike the awkward static screens found in some carriers, that making watching TV in bed virtually impossible, Hawaiian have opted for an advanced in-flight entertainment experience powered by the next generation of large-format tablets and equipped with a telescoping tablet arm that adjusts to optimize viewing angle and comfort. Read full article »

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United caters to today’s connected traveller with new domestic Business Class

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By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

Competition in domestic travel in the US is further heating up, with a new wave of interiors just launched by United. Starting with the A319 this week, the new interior will be rolled out on A319s, A320s, 737s and 757s throughout 2016.

The new interiors are custom created for the airline as it pushes hard to compete with more design-led airlines such as Delta, Virgin America and JetBlue. It is no surprise that United have decided to keep up with their competitors and in certain areas possibly even push ahead of the competition.

Tablet holders and storage
Developed with input from customers whom the airline invited to test seat prototypes, the brand new United seats by design firm PriestmanGoode have created features several elements to improve the customer experience, including all-leather seat covers, a patented-design tray table with tablet holder, articulating seat bottoms for greater comfort when reclining and an adjustable headrest; in-seat universal A/C power outlets for customers to charge their devices; increased in-seat storage, including two seatback pockets and side stowage for laptops and tablets; dedicated beverage holders; and real granite cocktail tables (no weight spared there).

At 21.1 inches wide, the new United First seat is wider than the current seat and will have numerous custom-design elements and premium finishes including the signature United-branded tag. Each aircraft will continue to have the same number of premium-cabin seats. Read full article »

Utilitarian aircraft galleys increasingly get a makeover

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By Marisa Garcia, FlightChic

Zodiac Aerospace is celebrating the delivery of its 50,000th aircraft galley, a unit shipped to Etihad Airways for its new ‘Reimagined’ A380 cabin, that embodies everything going right with cabin design in recent years.

Far from the utilitarian storage and food preparation area we see on most aircraft, this fine crafted unit for Etihad Airways would fit in the modern living room of a high-concept design home.

This gorgeous cabin monument reveals just how thorough the Etihad Design Consortium was when tailoring the Reimagined flying experience; eliminating all possible eye-sores and creating a sense of place that communicates more hospitality than aviation.

“We are very proud of being part of such a visionary concept like the one that has been realized for the Etihad A380 cabin”, said Olivier Zarrouati, CEO of Zodiac Aerospace. This particular galley program started in 2011 and the first aircraft was delivered in December 2014.

Of course, airlines still buy the generic and utilitarian galleys, but the trend is towards cabin monuments serving a second life as welcome zones or customer social areas, at least for wide-body and long-haul aircraft. Beyond looking pretty, putting this functional space to work as an element of the passenger experience is smart design thinking.

With the limited space available on aircraft, each component should complement the airline’s brand aesthetic.

AIX 2015 » Density and distraction drive new aircraft interiors trends

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By Marisa Garcia, Flight Chic

Rapidly evolving alternatives to traditional inflight entertainment systems, smarter seat designs and a redefined premium cabin were top themes at this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo 2015 in Hamburg, the aircraft cabin show of shows.

Airlines are eager to make the most of potential revenue space on their planes, while air travelers dread crowded cabins. To resolve this tension, airlines need to draw attention away from the pain of the cabin crunch—especially in Economy.

Technology now takes centre stage in Hamburg as inflight connectivity and entertainment offer passengers productivity, emotional comfort, or at least distraction. This technology is a major capital investment, but vendors are introducing solutions which make these IFE technologies more affordable—even a potential source of revenue and a way to optimize operations.

Connectivity
As airlines step-up the rollout of in-flight connectivity, Panasonic Avionics Corporation celebrated the 700th installation of its eXConnect in-flight Wi-Fi system at the show. The company provides a suite of options which combine in-seat entertainment with global coverage of Ku-band satellite broadband Wi-Fi and 3G services for internet, text and telephony through AeroMobile.

Panasonic also announced that Asia’s largest airline, China Southern, chose its hybrid eXO IFE solution for its narrowbody fleet of A320s and A321s. The eXO system lets airlines mix and match Full HD overhead video and in-seat audio, seat-back Audio-Video On Demand (AVOD), and wireless streaming to passenger devices. This flexibility lets airlines configure entertainment on the aircraft by sections, to suit their product strategy. It lowers costs, reduces weight, and allows easy upgrades when airlines chose to update cabins.

Wireless in-flight entertainment (wIFE) has proven successful where installing embedded in-flight entertainment is impractical. It can also complement existing embedded IFE systems.

Gate-to-gate usage of in-seat tablets
Lufthansa Systems’ BoardConnect solution offers a rich user interface for entertainment and connectivity directly streamed to passengers’ personal electronic devices. The company has developed an in-seat product which fits consumer tablets on a frame added to the seat-back.
Read full article »

SAS’ new A330 Business Class features Hästens bedding and a snack bar

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

As cabin interior upgrade cycles are becoming shorter, airlines around the world are working hard to keep up with this ‘arms race’ by introducing bigger and better premium seats, as well as smarter and lighter designs in Economy.

At the same time airlines are coming up with creative ways to improve the ‘softer’ service elements of the inflight experience. For example, as full-flat beds have now become the industry standard in Business Class, airlines are looking for ways to differentiate the premium passenger experience by ‘dreaming up’ service touches that improve the chance passengers can enjoy a good night of sleep onboard.

Examples include Virgin Atlantic’s Snooze Zone and Delta’s partnership with Westin Hotels. Qantas, meanwhile, has introduced what it calls ‘Business Suites’ on its A330s that let passengers recline from the moment they board until touchdown at their destination.

SAS A330 Business Class
Following years of restructuring in order to create a competitive cost platform, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has recently introduced its first refurbished A330 aircraft. Similar to Aer Lingus’ new A330 Business Class – which offers passengers a well thought-out combination of product and service innovations – SAS’ new premium cabin shows how carriers with a relatively limited long-haul network can respond to the passenger experience standards set by airlines from the Gulf and Asia.

SAS’ new business class cabin features Thomson’s Vantage XL seats – which have currently only been installed by one other airline, Qantas. Designed by UK-based FactoryDesign, the seats are a modern interpretation of Scandinavian design, including metallic edging, gold accents and electric blue in-seat lighting.

As Jonny Clark from TheDesignair puts it nicely: “With touch points of wooden veneer, dark charcoal fabrics with topstitching and electric blue details, the designers have gone for a mix of business elegance with contemporary cool.” Read full article »

Chinese LCC Spring Airlines trials faster boarding procedure using fruit signs

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

We have reported several times before how airlines target the rapidly growing middle classes in emerging markets in innovative ways. For example, in Brazil TAM sells tickets via kiosks located at low-end retail chains and at subway stations. The airline also allows customers to pay their ticket in multiple installments and provides ‘how to fly’ advice to first-time flyers.

In East Africa, airlines such as Kenya Airways and Uganda Airlines have partnered with ‘mobile money’ providers like M-PESA and Airtel Money to allow people without a bank account to purchase air tickets via their mobile phone, while in the Philippines, Phillipine Airlines lets customers without a credit card book their ticket online and then pay at a nearby 7 Eleven store.

First-time flyers
Another airline that has come up with creative ideas to accommodate the large group of first-time flyers is Chinese low-cost carrier Spring Airlines.

Spring Airlines has trialled a new boarding strategy by using fruit signs to guide passengers – especially those who travel by air for the first time – as seat numbers can be hard to find and can be confusing for those who have little experience in travelling by air.

During the Chinese New Year travel season Spring Airlines was expecting a large number of novice passengers and the airline used a visual solution to help passengers find their seats more quickly and and ease congestion in the aisles.

On February 11, passengers on flight 9C8881 between Shanghai and Shenzhen found 4 different fruit signs printed on their boarding passes which corresponded to the seats in four sections – rows 1-2 (blueberry), rows 3-12 (kiwi), rows 13-21 (apple) and rows 22-33 (tangerine). Read full article »

New Korean Air ‘Prestige Suite’ indicates a new seating trend in Business Class

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By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

Korean Air is the latest carrier to embrace the new B/E Aerospace Apex Business Class suite. Following both JAL and Oman Air, Korean Air has opted for these increasingly popular forward facing private suites, which all offer aisle access and increased privacy.

Just like Japan Airlines’ ‘Sleeper Suites’, Korean Air’s ‘Prestige Suites’ turn into 74 inch long beds. When not fully reclined, the seats are still a comfortable 21.6 inches wide and feature a 23 inch widescreen touchscreen TV with handheld controller too, so there is no need to reach to the screen.

In a bid to improve and align their business class cabin with international standards, the biggest improvement comes from the introduction of a fully flat bed, replacing the older lie-flat seats.

The new Suites will make their debut on a Korean Air A330-300 on the Guangzhou, Singapore and Hanoi routes. Korean Air has a further 38 aircraft on order – six A330-300s, twelve B777-300ERs, ten B747-8is and ten B787-9s – and all will be delivered equipped with these new seats.

The airline also announced they will be looking at introducing a brand new First Class product to compliment the new suites.

Privacy
The advantage of these seats is that passengers can either fly together or in complete privacy, in a similar set-up to British Airways’ long-standing Club World product. The centre seats align perfectly, whilst the window twin seats are staggered slightly, to ensure each passenger has access to the aisle. Read full article »

Air Astana introduces ‘Economy Sleeper Class’

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By Kai-Chin Shih, >talkairlines

Recently, several airlines have picked up the Air New Zealand Skycouch concept. While China Airlines introduced its ‘Family Couch’ and Azul introduced the ‘Sky Sofa’, Air Astana has become the latest carrier to introduce a similar yet slightly different product.

The Kazakh airline announced the new ‘Economy Sleeper Class’ in which each passenger will get to enjoy a row of three Economy Class seats, turn-down service, along with various privileges at the airport.

The Economy Sleeper Class is located in the first few rows of Economy Class. The area, similar to Premium Economy products on other carriers, is partitioned from the regular Economy Class allowing passengers to enjoy more privacy. During the flight, Business Class amenity kits will be provided to make traveling more comfortable.

Mattress, duvet, pillow
When it is time to rest, the cabin crew will bring mattress layers, luxurious duvets and pillow sets to transform seats into beds that allow passengers to reasonably stretch their legs and sleep.

Different from Skycouch-related products, which consist of three continuous seats that have raisable legrests to create a large resting area, Air Astana’s Economy Sleeper is simply a set of three regular Economy Class seats. As a result, it can only allow a maximum of one adult and one infant on each seat set. Yet, it can, just like the Skycouch products, be sold as individual Economy Class seats if necessary.

With the new Economy Sleeper, Air Astana is targeting families who want more space and passengers who are unable to book business class seats. The class, with Business Class amenity kits and partitions that separate it from Economy Class, is the first to blend the Skycouch and Premium Economy concepts. Read full article »