CABIN / SEATS
By Marisa Garcia, Flight Chic
24 April 2015 | 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.
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 »
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
25 March 2015 | 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 »
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
6 March 2015 | 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.
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 »
By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir
9 February 2015 | 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.
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 »
By Kai-Chin Shih, >talkairlines
3 February 2015 | 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 »
16 December 2014 | 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 10 product and service innovations we have selected this year reflect how airlines are becoming bolder in the design of new products and services as more airlines are embrading hospitality, design and technology as ways to differentiate the passenger experience.
THE AIRLINETRENDS.COM TOP 10 FOR 2014
1. China Airlines to feature ‘Sky Lounge’ and ‘Family Couch’ on new B777-300ERs
Taiwan’s flag carrier China Airlines is transforming its products and services with the airline’s new Boeing 777-300ER becoming the airline’s flagship aircraft to showcase innovations such as a ‘Sky Lounge’ in Business and ‘Family Couches’ in Economy. Read article »
2. Aer Lingus’ new Business Class ticks many passenger experience ‘boxes’
Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus’ new Business Class cabin in our opinion ticks many boxes of what the Business Class experience should look like in the coming years, as the airline has come up with a very well thought-out combination of product and service design. Read article »
3. Beyond First Class: Etihad’s new A380 features 3-room ‘The Residence’ suite
Etihad has unveiled the world’s first private multi-room cabin on a commercial passenger aircraft. Called ‘The Residence’, the ‘über premium’ space will feature a living room, double bedroom, and a separate ensuite shower room, while passengers will be served by a dedicated butler. Read article »
4. Smart design: Fixed headrest support on Etihad’s new Economy seats
Hidden inside the press storm caused by Etihad’s luxurious new A380 comes a smart design innovation of the airline’s new Economy seats. Etihad’s so-called ‘Economy Smart Seats’ feature a ‘fixed wing’ headrest, designed to provide a firm surface for passengers to lean on while sleeping. Read article »
5. Qantas new A330 Business Suite to offer ‘gate-to-gate’ recline
With the aim to provide frequent flyers in Business Class with the maximum amount of sleep, Qantas is introducing Business Class seats on its A330s that let passengers recline from the moment they board until touchdown at their destination. Read article » Read full article »
Images courtesy Australian Business Traveller
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
9 December 2014 | In the past years airlines around the world have been busy installing seats in Business Class that can be turned into fully flat beds, making ‘full flat’ the industry standard. In an effort to further differentiate their premium product, airlines are increasingly coming up with creative ways to improve the ‘softer’ service elements of the inflight experience. Examples include Virgin Atlantic’s Snooze Zone, Delta’s partnership with Westin and Aer Lingus’ new Business Class which offers passengers a well thought-out combination of product and service innovations.
In an effort to provide frequent flyers in Business Class with the maximum amount of sleep, Qantas is introducing Business Class seats on its A330s that let passengers recline from the moment they board until touchdown at their destination. The innovation, for which Qantas is awaiting regulatory approval, could let passengers get more than seven hours of shuteye on an Australia to Southeast Asia trip.
As aircraft seats are traditionally locked upright during take-off and landing, when most accidents happen, the innovation would allow Qantas to offer the world’s first seats that let passengers recline in their seat from take-off through to landing.
Key to the break-through product’s safety is an over-the-shoulder belt — much like a car seatbelt — that connects with the usual around-the-waist belt to provide extra restraint during takeoff and landing.
The seats won’t be able to recline less than 25 degrees from the horizontal on international flights and 21 degrees domestically. That’s sufficient to allow the shoulder belt to work, withstanding the 16G forces that can be exerted in a survivable accident. The berths can be switched to fully-flat mode once the plane is in level flight. Read full article »
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
5 December 2014 | In order to make as much as possible of the limited ‘real estate’ onboard their aircraft, airlines such as British Airways (‘Club Kitchen’), American Airlines (‘Lobby Bar’), Japan Airlines’ (‘Sky Gallery’) and China Airlines (‘Sky Lounge’) have been reimagining how the galley area of the premium cabin could become the domain of passengers as well after regular service is over.
Virgin Atlantic ‘Wander Wall’
On a similar note, Virgin Atlantic – which is also known for its signature Upper Class onboard bar (one of the very few airlines to actually install a bar on aircraft that are not an A380) – has come up with an inventive concept on its new B787 Dreamliner that is called the ‘Wander Wall’.
While the sit-up bar is for Business Class passengers only, those in Premium Economy on the airline’s B787 are encouraged to stretch their legs and come over to the ‘Wander Wall’ and mingle with other passengers and crew.
The ‘Wander Wall’ is located in the front galley, just behind the Upper Class bar, and is a bulkhead area where Premium Economy fliers can “wander to” and help themselves to snacks, drinks and newspapers. “It creates a space where customers can get out of their seats and stretch their legs,” CEO Craig Kreeger told USA Today. “It gives them a destination, someplace they can walk to that’s not the bathroom.”
Developed to reflect the design of the Upper Class bar, the social space offers a mini fridge, water fountain and a self-serve area where passengers can help themselves to snacks and refreshments.
Reuben Arnold, director of brand and customer experience told Business Traveller: “The Wonderwall [in the galley] is a great place to stretch your legs and socialise. On day flights there will be snacks and drinks here, there is a fridge and a water fountain; on evening flights, there will be things like chamomile tea and hot chocolate with marshmallows. It gives a reason for people to want to go there and leave their seat.”
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
11 November 2014 | Airlines around the world are working hard to keep up with the cabin interior upgrade 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, ideally taking a holistic approach to design a branded passenger experience.
Irish ‘value carrier’ Aer Lingus recently announced details of its new 32-seat Business Class cabin, which in our opinion ticks many boxes of what the Business Class experience should look like in the coming years, as the airline has come up with a very well thought-out combination of product and service innovations. Or as Irish newspaper The Independent put it: “Is Aer Lingus’s hot new cabin a business ‘class’, ‘service’ or ‘experience’?”
Examples include pre-flight dinner in the airline’s JFK and Boston lounges for passengers who want to maximize their sleep onboard, free wifi and ample stowage space for personal devices, the provision of dinner on demand onboard, tapping into Aer Lingus Irish heritage with items such as locally sourced food and the amenity kit cosmetics, and providing pre-flight clearance of US customs and immigration on flights leaving Dublin and Shannon.
Sleep, work, dine, relax
The seats, manufactured by fellow Irish company Thompson Aero, have been customized by Factorydesign who are also responsible for the new Thompson Vantage-based ‘Mint’ Business Class on JetBlue’s new subfleet of transcontinental A321s.
Aer Lingus new Business Class seat transforms into a fully-flat 6’6” (2 metres) bed, which is one of the longest in the industry, with a seat width of 22”. The staggered layout offers direct aisle access to 90 percent of Business Class passengers except those with a window seat in the first row. Irish supplier Botany Weaving has provided the fabrics for the Business Class cabin such as seat covers, carpets and curtains, with the fibres designed to reflect Ireland’s weaving heritage. A video of the new Aer Lingus Business Class cabin here.
Aer Lingus will introduce its new Business Class on its seven A330 aircraft from March 2015, and what makes the airline’s new premium passenger experience of interest is that Aer Lingus aimed to come up with product and services that design for multiple uses of one space based on a passenger’s needs, depending on whether they wish to sleep, work, dine or relax. Read full article »
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
10 October 2014 | With mood lighting now being a standard feature on new aircraft, several airlines have also begun retrofitting mood lighting in their older cabins. Furthermore, besides the ‘generic’ approach towards mood lighting – that is, recreating sunset on evening flights and sunrise in the morning – a few airlines have taken a cue from Virgin America’s iconic red and purple cabin lighting – which has been described by some passengers as feeling like entering a flying nightclub – to come up with their signature cabin lighting.
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.”
A great example of this approach is Icelandair. In early April of this year, Icelandair – the airline that positions itself as the ideal stopover carrier between Europe and North-America – completed the first aircraft installation of EMTEQ’s full-spectrum mood lighting system onto a B757.
Icelandair plans to instal the system, which is capable of delivering highly customizable scenes with dynamic colors and intensity levels, on 18 B757s.
Commenting on the new mood lighting, Helgi Már Björgvinsson, Icelandair’s SVP for Marketing and Sales, said “Less maintenance and lower fuel consumption was an important case for the upgrade, as well as the desire to create a unique passenger experience and to utilize the lighting for branding purposes.” Read full article »
By Kai-Chin Shih, >talkairlines
23 September 2014 | As ancillary revenues have become a major revenue source for airlines – if not the lifeline for many – airlines are thinking of more ways to derive revenue from all phases of the customer journey. For example, airlines are looking to harness the power of retailing through their in-seat IFEC systems, be it that things are still in a very early stage.
For example, very few airlines today allow passengers to order duty free onboard via the inseat or wireless IFE system. Virgin America and Japan Airlines are among the exceptions, while passengers on Lufthansa’s A321s can now order duty free items inflight via the wireless IFE portal for delivery to their address of choice.
Meanwhile, Shanghai-based China Eastern – China’s second-largest carrier by passenger numbers – is stepping up its efforts to become a global player. The Skyteam-member has just launched a new brand image and livery and will receive its first B777-300 (77W) this month which will be the airline’s new flagship aircraft. For a full report on China Eastern’s new B777-300 see this article on >talkairlines.
Yet, the innovative bits of China Eastern’s new B77W are not the seats (video of the cabin interior here). The airline has come up with some interesting interesting concepts in an effort to increase inflight duty free sales.
Realizing that the existing print duty free catalogues can no longer satisfy traveller’s purchasing needs, China Eastern decided to create a more diverse, abundant and straightforward shopping system, dubbed the new in-flight mall.
As China Eastern will offer Wi-Fi on its new B77W, the airline collaborated with credit card company China UnionPay and Chinese third-party payment processor Yeepay to come up with an ‘Air-Ground Wireless Transaction Platform’ which allows for real-time processing of onboard payments and solves the transaction risks associated with in-flight duty free. Read full article »
This article originally appeared on TheDesignAir
By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir
2 September 2014 | So it isn’t often we think ourselves as that awkward L-shaped brick from classic computer game Tetris, but fundamentally that’s how aircraft seat designers see us. Unfortunately-shaped wedges that have to fit neatly into a rectangular shape.
In a constant fight to give airline passengers more space, more comfort and a better quality experience, the war of the seat configuration continues. British Airways’ latest patent application shows that perhaps the ideal future of front of the plane comfort isn’t as clearly cut as we once thought.
Originally, in 1999 British Airways brought the flat bed concept to the skies with it’s Club World seat. Seen as a quantum leap in Business Class comfort, with space only considered for the super wealthy, who could afford First Class opulence. Since then many carriers have offered similar comfort, but the forward and backward concept took into consideration the ergonomics of the body, offering more space to the wider upper body. This was done by creating interconnecting forward-backward seats that operated as a singular unit, reducing seat costs and increasing space where it was needed – around the shoulders.
The original club world seat was then fairly quickly redesigned, to what we see on BA’s fleet today. The modern seats offer more privacy, more space, and more technological advancement. But the seat concept is sound, even the older seats can still be found on BA’s subsidiary OpenSkies 757 fleet now titled ‘Biz Bed’.
The forward backward concept was new, and whilst open to initial scepticism, proved a success, and was quickly admired by business travellers, who enjoyed the extra comfort, for little extra price, due to the LOPA (the seat’s real estate on the plane) being hardly compromised compared to the big bucket recliners that the rest of the industry enjoyed. Read full article »
Special thanks to Kai-Chin Shih at >talkairlines for providing input for this article.
2 September 2014 | As part of its ‘Next Generation Plan’ Taiwan’s flag carrier China Airlines is transforming its products and services with the airline’s new Boeing 777-300ER (which will enter service this month) becoming the airline’s flagship aircraft to showcase the upgrades it has come up with in partnership with well-known Taiwanese architect Ray Chen. Besides using the texture of persimmon tree grain to decorate the partition walls of the cabins and the parts of the Business Class seats, two eye-catching innovations include a ‘Sky Lounge’ in Business and ‘Family Couches’ in Economy.
Galley as social area
Airlines operating the A380 superjumbo – such as Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways and Korean Air – have been using the relatively large amount of cabin space on this flagship aircraft to feature social areas such as onboard bars and lounges in their premium cabins. The A380 provides 50 percent more floor space compared with the B747, but airlines on average install only 35 percent more seats.
On the B777-300ER – which is replacing the B747-400 as a flagship aircraft – airlines such as British Airways (‘Club Kitchen’), American Airlines (‘Lobby Bar’) and Japan Airlines’ (‘Sky Gallery’) have been reimagining how the galley located in the premium cabin could become the domain of passengers as well, after regular service is over.
The latest example of how the galley in the premium cabin can be turned into a social area (on non-US flights where it is prohibited for passengers to stand or group together on board) comes from Taiwan-based China Airlines, which will feature a ‘Sky Lounge’ in the Business Class on its upcoming fleet of B777-300ERs.
Designed by well-known Taiwanese architect Ray Chen – who has been responsible for the design of the flagship store of book chain Eslite in Taipei – the new design of China Airlines’ Business Class cabin aims to give customers a feeling of relaxing in their personal reading space. The texture of persimmon tree grain has been used to decorate the partition walls of the cabin, and the Business seats feature stand-alone reading lamps.
The ‘Sky Lounge’ galley located in the middle of the Business Class cabin of China Airlines B777 (seatmap here) doubles as a self-serve bar and social area. During the flight, passengers can choose to walk up to the lounge to enjoy food and drinks while chatting with other passengers. Read full article »
This article originally appeared on >talkairlines
By Kai-Chin Shih | >talkairlines
22 June 2014 | China Airlines has finally released details on its Boeing 777-300ER Economy Class, which will include normal Economy Class seats and the new Family Couch. Family Couch is a version of Air New Zealand’s (ANZ) revolutionary Skycouch. ANZ licensed the seating type to China Airlines earlier this year, making China Airlines the first airline other than ANZ to install the seats.
Family Couch is a row of three Economy Class seats that together adapt to create a flat flexible space to stretch out and relax in. Passengers can raise the footrests and armrests 90 degrees during inflight and enjoy a comfortable sleep. The experience can be further enhanced with the mattresses, pillows, and blankets provided by the cabin crew.
Specially designed seat-belts, to be attached to the passenger’s seat and the front seat-back (which is the reason why Family Couch won’t appear in the first row) are also handed out by the cabin crew, indicating that unless one buys Family Couch ticket, he/she can’t enjoy the bed-seat. When all the footrests and armrests are raised up, the total area of the seat set will be 64cm wide and 140cm long.
This new type of seat will be installed in the ten rows after the first row of Economy Class. However, they will only be limited to the far right section. A three-person ticket for Family Couch can be up to 60 percent cheaper than the fare of three Business Class seats.
Both the Family Couch seats and the normal Economy Class seats are manufactured by Zodiac Aerospace. The seats are slimmer than China Airlines’ current Economy Class seats and can allow passengers to recline up to 118 degrees, compared to the current 106 degrees and seat pitch is 32 inches. Each seat comes with a 11.1-inch high definition personal screen which uses Panasonic’s new eX3 system.
Read full article »
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
18 June 2014 | Following earlier initiatives by major competitors Lufthansa (168 seats on its A320s) and Air France (178 seats on A320s) to install more slimline seats (from Recaro) on their short-haul aircraft in order to become more competitive with low-cost rivals such as Easyjet (180 seats on A320), British Airways has just unveiled its new short-haul interiors.
On the BA’s existing A320 fleet of more than 40 aircraft, there are various different seats and configurations and at a recent shareholder presentation by BA owner IAG, it revealed that it aims to increase capacity across BA’s Airbus fleet by 6 per cent.
BA executive chairman Keith Williams said: “The short-haul landscape has changed enormously in recent years. To stay competitive and keep offering customers choice, great fares and great service, we are giving our cabins a radical makeover.”
Leather headrests, tablet holder
The new charcoal grey leather seats (manufactured by B/E Aerospace) are slimmer and ergonomically designed to allow BA to squeeze in extra seats for its economy cabins, Euro Traveller. This, says the airline, will allow it to offer more low fares. The new Euro Traveller chairs will have backs designed give more knee space for the customer behind and new eye-level seatback tablet-holders, which are rapidly becoming a standard feature on the latest generation of Economy seats. Read full article »