CABIN / SEATS

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

United_Polaris_Lounge to Landing_680x371

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 »

Economy Sofa design uses detachable headrests to turn row of seats into bed

SAA_Geven Piuma Sofa_680x313

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

At last week’s Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg many of the innovations on display centered around passenger experience themes such as connected and empowered passengers, IFE&C as open platforms, further optimized Economy seat designs, mood lighting on steroids, and immersive Business Class seats.

Good overviews of the specific innovations featured at the Expo can be found here (FlightGlobal), here (APEX), here (RGN), and here (Future Travel Experience).

We’d like to single out one smart design concept that is an indication of how the industry continues to take existing innovations to the next level. Case in point: Geven’s Piuma Sofa seat, which will make its debut onboard an airline’s A330 later this year.

SkyCouch
Back in 2010, Air New Zealand surprised the airline industry with its innovative SkyCouch, a row of three standard economy seats that can be changed into a single, horizontal space by removing arm rests. The seats have large flip-up cushions that fill the space between the end of the seat and the next row of seats.

Two other airlines – China Airlines (Family Couch) and Brazil’s Azul (SkySofa) – have licensed Air New Zealand’s SkyCouch design so far, while Air Astana came up with its own ‘Sleeper Class’ service.

Economy Sofa
At this year’s AIX, Italian seat manufacturer Geven unveiled a working prototype of a further evolution of the ‘SkyCouch’ design, the Piuma Sofa.

The Piuma Sofa enables rows of seats to be rapidly converted by detaching the headrests and attaching them to the seat base to widen the space and create a flat area suitable for sleeping on. A mattrass cover can be placed on top of all seatbases to improve comfort. Geven says it takes less than 30 seconds to convert three or four seats into a ‘sleeper sofa’ and the headrests are released by the cabin crew using a physical key. Read full article »

Ryanair goes further upmarket with Business-only 737 charter service

Ryanair_737_Corporate Jet_680x363

In the past 20 months, Ryanair has been busy upgrading its products and services, stepping up its digital innovation activities, as well as opening routes to main airport hubs in an effort to appeal more to business travellers.

Now, in a surprise move, Ryanair has taken its drive upmarket to a whole new level by launching a corporate jet service, using a customized Boeing 737-700 which is available for corporate or group hire.

The B737-700 features 60 reclining leather Business Class-style configured in 15 rows in a 2-2 with a 48-inch seat pitch and include “fine dining catering facilities.” The Business-only 737 will be staffed by Ryanair pilots and cabin crew and has a range of up to six hours, making it “ideal for private corporate, sports team or group travel”, Ryanair said. Ryanair’s standard B737-800 aircraft feature 189 seats in a 3-3 layout.

The Irish low cost airline says it has been attracting more business people since overhauling its model in the wake of two profit warnings in 2013. As it already caters for around 25 million business travellers per year and has now set up a dedicated corporate jet team at its home base in Dublin.

A spokesman said the plane can be hired by the hour, with the “competitive” rate depending on the arrival and departure airports. According to The Guardian, a 60 seater private jet from London to Geneva would cost about £33,000 – or £550 a head – for a return trip.

Carol Cork, sales and marketing director at private jet hire firm PrivateFly, told The Guardian that Ryanair had got the timing right, with the Euro football championship in the summer coming up. Asked if Ryanair would accept bookings from stag and hen parties, a spokesperson said the carrier was “happy to provide quotes for any groups.”

While, Ryanair is the first low-cost carrier to launch a corporate jet charter, airlines such as Korean Air (16 or 28-seat 737 Business Jet), Emirates (19-seat A319 Executive Jet) and Qatar Airways (40-seat A319 Premium One) offer similar charter services using a Boeing 737 or an A320 family aircraft, although these feature a more ‘uber-premium’ cabin.

Our newsletter is read by aviation professionals from:sign up now »

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

Panasonic Waterfront Seat_d680x377

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.

Panasonic Waterfront Seat_b680x191

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

SWISS_B773_galley_entry_snack_680x269

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

JetBlue_Connected In-Seat Experience_680x380
CLICK HERE FOR LARGE VERSION

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 »

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

Boeing_Next-Gen Lighting_b680x316
CLICK HERE FOR MORE IMAGES

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

10 Interesting PAXEX innovations of 2015_b680x270

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 »

Our newsletter is read by aviation professionals from:sign up now »

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

Finnair_A350_innovative features_c680x277

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

AZUL A330 innovative features_a680x400

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

Hawaiian_A330 Business Class_c680x400

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 »

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

United_domestic First_connected pax_b680x383

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

Etihad_Zodiac_A380 Entry Lobby_b680x308

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

Best of AIX2015_680x400

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

SAS_newBusinessClass_Hastens_a680x264

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 »