CABIN / SEATS

Philippine Airlines introduces ‘layered’ Business Class seat on its A330s

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

As Business Class seats that can be turned into full-flat beds have become the industry standard in recent years, airlines have been facing the challenge to determine the best seat layout in order to optimize the valuable real estate onboard.

This has led seat manufacturers to come up with several inventive designs, such as herringbone, staggered, V-shaped and backward/forward-facing configurations [image].

Layered design
French seat manufacturer Sogerma has figured out that it can decrease the default pitch in a full-flat Business Class seat by about 4 inches by including a slight overlap in the foot wells for the two customers in the paired seats on its V-shaped Equinox product line, calling the seat Equinox 3D.

Both are fully flat but the seat on the right is raised above the seat on the left. When moving to the bed position, the window seat moves up to armrest level while the aisle seat moves down to just above the floor.  This design is said to also allow for easy access for the window-side passenger.

Or as aviation journalist Jason Rabinowitz (aka AirlineFlyer) put it when testing the seat at this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg: “The seat pair is angled in toward each other, which is nothing new. What is new, however, is that the two seats transform into a layered lie-flat bed. In essence, the feet of one passenger end up resting on a platform on top of the adjacent passenger. This saves a bit of width per seat without compromising comfort, but it sure does look strange. I tried the seat and found it to be comfortable, so this will be one to keep an eye out for in the future.”

Philippine Airlines
Philippine Airlines (PAL) is the launch customer of the Equinox 3D seat (images here and here) when it took delivery of its new Airbus A330-300 last month.

PAL’s A330s accommodate 368 passengers — 18 in Business, 27 in Premium Economy and 323 in Economy, and the airline will operate the aircraft on medium-haul routes between Manila and Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo, Sydney, Melbourne, and Honolulu. Read full article

Smart design: Fixed headrest support on Etihad’s new Economy seats

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At airlinetrends.com we love smart design innovations, especially in the space-constrained Economy cabin. Think Air New Zealand’s innovative Skycouch (which will also be installed on China Airlines’ upcoming B77-300ERs), as well as the airline’s cleverly designed headrest pillows.

Economy Smart Seats
Lost a bit in the press blitz around Etihad’s new über-premium A380 comes a smart design innovation of the airline’s new Economy seats. The so-called ‘Economy Smart Seats’ (video here) feature a ‘fixed wing’ headrest, designed to provide a firm surface for passengers to lean on while sleeping.

The new Economy seats will first appear on Etihad’s A380 and Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. On the A380, the economy seats will be nearly 19 inches wide and arranged in a 3-4-3 fashion with a 31-32 inch pitch. On Etihad’s Boeing 787 the seats will be configured 3-3-3 with a seat width of 17.2 inches and seat pitch ranging from 31 to 33 inches. Each Economy Smart Seat reclines 6 inches and has adjustable lumbar support.

Etihad Design Consortium
Etihad’s new interiors are the work of the so-called Etihad Design Consortium, which consists of British agencies Acumen Design Associates, Factorydesign and Honour Branding. Acumen has been  responsible for seating for First Class, Business, and Economy, while Factorydesign was assigned passenger experience and interiors elements such as galleys, lavatories and passenger destination zones. Honour Branding was responsible for the coordination of the project and advising Etihad on the innovation process. Read full article

Beyond First Class: Etihad’s new A380 to feature 3-room ‘The Residence’ suite

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This article originally appeared on TheDesignAir

By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

Etihad Airways has unveiled the world’s first private multi-room cabin on a commercial passenger aircraft. Called ‘The Residence’, the ‘uber premium’ space will feature a living room, double bedroom, separate ensuite shower room, and for the first time in the airline industry, a dedicated, trained butler.

Measuring an unparalleled 125 square feet in total area, The Residence will be located on the forward upper deck of the Abu Dhabi-based carrier’s new fleet of Airbus A380s and will be available for single or double occupancy. Yes. That’s 125 square feet of your own private space, and if that wasn’t enough, you still have access to the First Class offerings including the brand new onboard lounge.

Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer, said: “The Residence will set Etihad Airways apart from the rest of the industry and allow us to provide the complete range of world-class products and services to cater for the individual tastes of every VIP traveller.

“This is the culmination of five years of intensive effort and research into how Etihad Airways can provide an unparalleled VIP experience. Without doubt, we are ushering in a new era of luxury travel in commercial aviation.”

Living room, master bedroom, shower
The living room in The Residence is furnished with a two-seat reclining sofa upholstered in Poltrona Frau leather, dual marquetry dining tables and a chilled mini-bar. A touchscreen control unit operates the retractable ottoman, the ambient and mood lighting, window shading, adjusts seat position and firmness, and activates the in-seat massage functions.

A door and passageway separate the living room from the master bedroom and the ensuite shower room. The bedroom features a Poltrona Frau upholstered 82 inch long double bed with custom-made mattress, bedside unit, wardrobe, and under-bed stowage for hand luggage (video here). Read full article

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Four Seasons’ uber-premium Boeing 757 takes passengers on round-the-world cruise

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

One of our favourite topics (and recommendation to our airline clients) is that the airline industry should be looking much closer to the hospitality industry for best practices on how to improve the passenger experience.

Airlines that have applied some ‘tricks’ from the hotel sector include Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines who welcome passengers in their premium classes with hand-written “Welcome Onboard” cards, while Etihad, Virgin Australia and Virgin America are among the few airlines that refer to their passengers as guests. American Airlines now refers to its premium cabin as a ‘hotel in the sky’, while Delta has partnered with Westin Hotels to let passengers sleep comfortable on Westin’s ‘Heavenly’ range of bedding.

On the ground, a handful hotels have opened their own lounges at airports, be it that for the moment these initiatives can be found at small airports only. For example, Four Seasons Resorts recently opened an airport lounge at Honolulu International Airport to welcome Four Seasons guests enroute to the island of Lanai.

Four Seasons ‘air cruise’
Now Four Seasons is looking to elevate its hospitality brand up in the air. The premium hotel group has unveiled its Four Seasons-branded Boeing 757 which will carry guests on its around-the-world ‘air cruises’.

Four Seasons, which operates 92 hotels and private residences around the world, first began offering its around-the-world trip in 2012 using a non-branded jet that carried 78 travelers. According to Susan Helstab, Four Seasons’ EVP Marketing, “The branded jet was developed to fulfill the wealthy’s wish to explore the world in utmost comfort. Taking our legendary service to the skies is a natural extension of what we’ve been doing in our hotels for more than 50 years.”

Or as Bloomberg summarizes it nicely: “First came the Orient Express train. Then the Queen Mary ocean liner. Now the Four Seasons jet?”
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Most interesting seating innovations from the 2014 Hamburg Aircraft Interiors Expo

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This article originally appeared on Airchive | Images courtesy of Jason Rabinowitz.

By Jason Rabinowitz, AirlineFlyer

Imagine a place where every single aspect of an airplane’s inside was on display and up for sale: From seats to fasteners, plastic mouldings to satellite arrays. Put it all in Hamburg, Germany, spread it out over seven halls, and call it Aircraft Interiors Expo 2014.

Industry firms large and small (and tiny) all brought their newest, latest, and greatest to this year’s show, hoping to capture the interest of airlines in this multi-billion dollar industry. Throughout the show, there were a few main recurring themes that have been the constant theme in the industry for a few years now. As Data Research Manager for Routehappy.com, it was my job to find the most interesting trends.

More seats in economy, less space, few but important innovations
Flying economy in the modern age has gotten to the point where 32″ pitch is a luxury, and 30″ pitch is the new norm. Slimline seats are the new cool, and airlines are gobbling these up faster than vendors can manufacture them. Reduced seat pitch, width, and cushioning are coming to an airplane near you, but it isn’t all bad.

ACRO
Seat manufacturer ACRO has managed to develop a seat with so much space carved out of it around the knees that a configuration of 29″ inches feels more like 32″ to the passenger. That may not sound like much, but it is the difference between being horribly uncomfortable and content for a short flight. The seats come with a positively tiny but super strong tray table which is barely wide enough to support an iPad. ACRO will start delivering these seats to Spirit Airlines for five retrofitted Airbus A319s and new A320 and A321 deliveries in 2015.

Recaro
One of the largest seat manufactures, Recaro, showed us that even the smallest of changes to their seats can have a large impact. We’ve all seen the photo showing various “innovative” ways passengers set up their own entertainment devices in economy, but Recaro has come up with a simple, yet ingenious solution to the problem.
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Business Class seats on South African Airways’ new A320s feature small shelf to stow a tablet device

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Airlines around the world are responding to the large number of passengers carrying smartphones, notebooks, tablets and e-readers by equipping seats with power sockets and USB ports. A number of airlines and interior suppliers are also looking how to integrate passengers’ own devices with the design of the seat.

For example, Japan Airlines’ new Economy seats (manufactured by ZIM Flugsitz), which made their debut on the airline’s B777-300s in January 2013, have been designed with a a conveniently placed smartphone holder which is also located near the USB port. For more examples on how airlines are coming up with smart seat-PED integration designs, see our ‘Bring Your Own Device’ article [pdf] in Onboard Hospitality Magazine.

South African Airways fleet renewal
South African Airways (SAA) has recently unveiled the interior of its new A320 aircraft, which have been designed by aircraft interior designers Priestmangoode and feature seats from seat manufacturer Geven. The new A320s, configured in a 24 Business and 114 Economy setting, boast a modern, sleek South African-themed interior, which will also form the basis of SAA’s future widebody aircraft designs.

A full story on SAA’s new A320s can be found in the March edition of the excellent Aircraft Interiors International magazine.

Integrate your own device
The Geven Comoda seats in SAA’s A320 Business Class have an innovative feature: The back shell has a small shelf to stow a tablet device, with a USB power point that keeps the device powered during the flight, and power plugs in the centre console for power.

Aircraft Interiors International reports that the Geven Comoda business seat has been customized for SAA, with the removable IFE setup saving project time and airline costs, as it cuts down on software issues, cabling and maintenance. Read full article

Novel Economy seat of just 4 kg to make its debut inflight

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Air New Zealand’s innovative SkyCouch aside, Economy seat development is predominantly aimed at making the seats slimmer and lighter by using new materials and by coming up with smart design improvements. Besides weighing less, slimline seats also allow airlines to increase capacity without significantly affecting passenger comfort.

Meanwhile, ultra low-cost carriers such as Ryanair, Spirit and Allegiant have introduced non-reclinable seats (euphemistically called ‘pre-reclined’) on their narrowbody aircraft. For example, Ryanair aircraft feature non-reclining seats, no seat-back pockets, safety cards stuck on the back of the seats, and life jackets stowed overhead rather than under the seat.

Lighest Economy seat
Combining the use of new materials with a novel design, French start-up seat manufacturer Expliseat at last year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg launched its super-lightweight Titanium seat.

The fixed-back seat – which has been ‘pre-reclined’ by 18 degrees – weighs only 4 kilograms and features a newly designed titanium and composite tube structure, which can be covered either with textile or leather materials. Despite being just two-inches thick, the seat’s “technical textile” is able to absorb shocks from the knees and fists of fellow passengers behind. Furthermore, the number of parts in the seat has been reduced to 30, down from 500 for a conventional seat.

The seat’s tubular structure is made from a combination of carbonfibre and titanium – a material Saada says manufacturers have shied away from on account of its high cost, Expliseat CEO Benjamin Saada told the APEX blog. However, despite being “at the top of the price range”, Saada says the resulting fuel savings of the seat are “so huge” that airlines will recover the high initial outlay within five years.
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Qatar Airways to launch Business Class-only service to London Heathrow

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By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

Qatar Airways has announced the launch of a new daily all-premium Business Class service from its hub in Doha to London Heathrow. Mirroring the Business-only product currently run by British Airways from London City Airport to New York JFK, the new service will be the first of its kind in the Middle East and will commence on 15 May 2014.

Qatar Airways will fit an A319 aircraft with an all Business Class, single aisle, 2–2 seating configuration offering 40 seats – slightly larger than the 32 seats on BA’s A318 that operates the LCY – JFK route.

Full-flat bed, big-screen IFE, connectivity
The full-flat seat – similar to the one found in Lufthansa’s new 747-800 cabin, or Delta’s new transcontinental Delta premium product – is configured as pairs of seats, slightly angled away from the aisle, meaning a modicum more privacy, but really only ideal for those travelling in pairs.

A nice touch on the narrowbody A319 is the provision of a big-screen entertainment system with more than 900 movies, TV shows, and video games to choose from, as well as the ability to SMS from the air to those on the ground, enabling people to keep in touch.

Passengers on the Business-only jet also have access to Qatar’s Premium lounge in London Heathrow’s T4 and the airline’s Premium Terminal in Doha.

Qatar Airways currently operates five daily flights to London Heathrow and the additional sixth all Business Class daily service means the airline will step up the frequency on the Doha – London Heathrow route from 35 to 42 weekly services.
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Four airlines to receive their first A380 superjumbo in 2014

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

As more airlines are bidding farewell to the last 747 in their fleet and opt for the 777-300ER or the A380 as their flagship product instead, this year will see four more airlines welcoming their first superjumbo.

The A380 provides 50 percent more floor space compared with the Boeing 747, but airlines on average install only 35 percent more seats, using the extra space for roomier cabins and customized areas. Well-documented examples of ‘A380 extravaganza’ include the onboard First Class shower on Emirates’ A380 and the Absolut Vodka-branded lounge and inflight duty free store on Korean Air’s A380.

10 airlines currently operate an A380
As of end of January 2014, 16 airlines have ordered 304 aircraft of the passenger version of the superjumbo. Currently 123 A380s are in operation worldwide (graph here) and 10 airlines have taken delivery of an A380 so far: Singapore Airlines (2007), Qantas, Emirates (2008), Air France (2009), Lufthansa (2010), Korean Air, China Southern (2011), THAI Airways, Malaysia Airlines (2012), and British Airways (2013). With a total order of 140 A380s, of which 44 have been delivered, Emirates accounts for nearly half of the orders.

This year, four more airlines will receive their first A380, including three carriers who regularly show up in the various ‘best airlines in the world’ rankings: Qatar Airways, Etihad, Asiana, plus Japanese hybrid low-cost carrier Skymark. These airlines will be followed by the final round of first A380 deliveries to Transaero in 2015, while orders at Hong Kong Airlines (2015) and Virgin Atlantic (2018) seem questionable. At the same time, Turkish Airlines reportedly will add four A380s to its fleet this summer for operation on slot-constrained routes to China.

Asiana
Becoming the eleventh carrier to add the A380 to its fleet (just before Qatar Airways), Korea’s Asiana Airlines will introduce its first superjumbo in June this year on regional routes, before deploying the aircraft on the Seoul – LAX route in July or August. Asiana will take delivery of a total of six A380s — two in June of this year, two next year, and two in 2017.

Asiana’s A380 will be configured with 12 ‘OZ First Suites’ and 66 staggered ‘Smartium’ Business seats on the upper deck and 417 economy seats (106 on the upper deck and 311 on the lower deck), carrying a total of 495 passengers.
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The best cabin interior launches of premium airlines and hybrid LCCs in 2013

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Passenger expectations continue to be raised by the cabin interior upgrade programs launched by airlines around the world, which sees them introducing more innovative or luxurious products and services, be it private suites in First Class, full-flat beds in Business, or the latest in in-flight entertainment and connectivity. Initially the upgraded product (and/or service) differentiates the airline from its competitors (as airline upgrade programs are out of sync with eachother), who then over the course of several years start matching – and often leapfrogging – the new standard, thereby initiating another ‘creative destruction’ cycle.

Shorter product cycles
Meanwhile, just like in other industries, these product cycles have become shorter. Witness the ‘fast fashion’ revolution created by H&M and Zara in the clothing industry. As Air New Zealand’s general manager international Ed Sims observed when the airline introduced its redesigned cabins a few years ago: “There was a time when airlines in our position could imagine six to seven years between product refurbishments, these days customers are so impatient for new developments that we think, realistically, that product cycles should be closer to three to fours years.”

New materials
At the same time, airlines have more ways than ever to differentiate their cabins as the cabin interior industry has made huge advances in the development of materials that look stunning and pass all regulations, although there still is a more formidable task left though of convincing top management to bring more ‘wow’ into the cabin.

Cabin interior launches in 2013
Written by the experts at TheDesignair, we have selected three of the best examples of how premium airlines have continued to raise the bar this year, with the likes of Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Emirates setting new standards in Business and First. At the same time, (hybrid) low-cost carriers are launching their own ‘smart’ Business Class cabins as part of their efforts to target the lucrative business traveller segment.

LUXURY AIRLINES RAISING THE BAR

1. Singapore Airlines further upgrades its cabins

Investing nearly USD150 million in a cross-cabin refresh, Singapore Airlines has unveiled its new First, Business and Economy class seats, as well as Panasonic latest eX3 IFE system. The new design in September made its debut on the airline’s new B777-300ERs flying the competitive Singapore-London route, and will also be rolled out on Singapore Airlines’ upcoming A350s. Read article »

2. Cathay Pacific revamps First Class with some nice touches

Cathay Pacific is ensuring its cabin products stay at the forefront of people’s minds. As the airline’s First Class suite wasn’t in need of a full redesign, the airline partnered with Foster + Partners, the same architectural company that designed Cathay’s ‘The Wing‘ lounge, to look at the suite and see how it could be refreshed. Read article »

3. Emirates new ‘Executive A319’ features private jet lounge and First Class suites

For travellers seeking a step up from First Class, Emirates’ new private jet service aims to raise the bar. Dubbed ‘Emirates Executive‘, the airline has transformed an Airbus A319 into a private jet that features a lounge with chairs, sofa and a table, 10 private First Class suites, and a shower – once only available on its A380s. Read article »

LOW-COST CARRIERS UPGRADING

4. JetBlue unveils new ‘transcontinental’ A321 interior featuring private suites

JetBlue in 2014 will launch a new transcontinental service between New York JFK, LA and San Francisco, featuring the airline’s new ‘Mint’ Business Class, which is described as “a stylish service minus all of the stuffiness often associated with the traditional front-of-the-cabin experience.” Read article »

5. Japan’s Skymark goes Premium Economy-only on new A330s

Hybrid low-cost carrier Skymark, Japan’s third largest airline, aims to differentiate itself in the high yield domestic market from full service airlines ANA and JAL and LCCs such as Jetstar Japan and Peach with a Premium Economy-only A330 featuring 271 seats with legrests and a 38 inch pitch. Read article »

6. Low-cost carrier FlyDubai goes chic with new Business Class cabin

Dubai-based ‘no-frills chic’ carrier FlyDubai has added a separate Business Class with wider seats and more legroom to its cabin. The airline’s fleet of 737-800s already features Boeing’s new Sky Interior and a high-definition inflight entertainment system. Read article »

Japan’s Skymark goes Premium Economy-only on new A330s

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By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

Hybrid low-cost carrier Skymark - Japan’s third largest airline – turned heads in early 2011 when it announced an order for six A380 superjumbo’s which will feature only 394 seats in a premium two-class configuration: 114 angled lie-flat Business seatss on the upper deck and 280 ‘shell-style’ Premium Economy seats on the lower deck. Skymark will take delivery of its first A380 in August 2014 and plans to fly between Tokyo and New York as the first destination, possibly followed by London and Frankfurt.

Premium Economy-only A330
As part of Skymark’s ambitious expansion plan, the Tokyo Haneda-based airline also executed leases for seven A330-300 aircraft in July 2012, with delivery scheduled from early 2014 through 2015.

Skymark’s new A330s are outfitted in a 271-seat single-class Premium Economyy configuration with a 38-inch seat pitch and 19.3-inch seat width, called ‘Green Seats’ (after the more spacious seats offered in the ‘Green Car’ on Japan’s high-speed rail), which are comparable to the domestic ‘Class J’ product of Japan Airlines.

Skymark will deploy its Premium Economy-only A330 widebodies on key domestic trunk routes from Tokyo to Fukuoka and Sapporo to win market share among business travellers. The first route is due to be Tokyo Haneda-Fukuoka at the end of March 2014, which is Skymark’s busiest route based on available seats, and Japan’s second and the world’s third busiest air route.

Cabin interior
In mid-December, Skymark reveiled its new A330-300 interior at Airbus in Toulouse and we caught up with Daniel Baron, founder of  Tokyo-based design agency LIFT Strategic Design who have been responsible for cabin styling and seat trim and finish, consulting on layout, seats and galleys. LIFT Design is also working with Skymark on the A380 cabin and seat design.

Skymark’s all-Premium Economy product features a 2 x 3 x 2 seating arrangement (compared with a regular 2 x 4 x 2 configuration for Economy on the A330). Each seat has 38 inches of legroom, which is long-haul standard for premium economy, and the 271 seats also feature leg rests – not just the front row like Cathay Pacific offers – meaning passenger’s legs are supported for the few hours they are onboard. There will be no inflight entertainment, but the airline says it is looking into inflight connectivity.

The cabin has been designed to represent a “casual urban cafe with the embracing freshness of a forest in Spring”. Whilst we can’t fully understand what that is supposed to impart, the finished product is airy, refreshing and light. A light fresh green is predominant here, matched with neutral putty finishes, providing a calm and serene environment. We like the trims of birch wooden veneer, found on the on the seat tables and golden walnut veneer in the lavatory flooring.
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Russia’s Transaero goes ‘uber-premium’ with new medium-haul Boeing 737s

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By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

We are slightly taken aback by Transaero’s latest announcement regarding the cabin offerings on their six new 737-800 aircraft. Transaero, a Russian carrier that was fairly unheard of until a few years ago, was recently awarded by SkyTrax as ‘Most Improved Airline In the World’ and by the looks of things, quite rightly so.

In what we believe is the only carrier in the world to offer a true three-class 737. Transaero has managed to fit in a First Class, Business Class and Economy Class cabin in an airframe that low-cost carriers can fit just 189 people. So Economy is going to be a tight fit, right? Not at all! The airline is boasting 34″ seat pitch on the aircraft, equivalent to that found on Oman Air’s long haul fleet, and one of the best pitches in the air. The 152-seat aircraft will be delivered in their 2013/2014 winter schedule and will be operated on flights between Moscow and London, Paris, Tel Aviv, Pathos (Cyprus), Astana and Almaty.

Imperial Class
Transaero’s ‘Imperial Class’ is a true First Class product and interesting to see on a 737 fleet, as the aircraft realistically can only fly a 6-hour flight at its upper limit as a financially viable proposition. So to see deeply-coloured fully-flat beds is a luxury for a short/mid-haul flight, but still welcome to see. Along with the flat-bed seats and in-flight wifi from Row44, passengers are served by personal VIP service managers and are provided with VIP or Business Lounges at airports and a round-the-clock communications line.

In an intimate cabin of just 4 seats (in a 2 x 2 arrangement), passengers can expect high-level gastronomic specialties by the famous Café Pushkin on routes from Moscow and on some international routes to Moscow, an extensive wine card and exclusive tableware by the Imperial Porcelain factory, making you feel like you’ve been transported into a Tsar’s palace. Competing with mainline international carriers for premium passengers there is a free personal chauffeur service available.
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New materials allow forward-looking airlines to differentiate their cabin interiors

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This article earlier appeared on Future Travel Experience 

By Daniel Baron, Managing Director, LIFT Strategic Design

The aircraft cabin is a universe apart. It is an exotic concoction of wildly expensive hardware, with long development lead times and complex safety requirements, plus ‘soft’ customer experience elements that must be quickly modified to meet changing market demand and/or financial realities. The product is delivered by staff who may have varying levels of polish or enthusiasm.

And, the whole affair is influenced by many different groups both inside and outside the airline: top management, marketing, engineering, finance, operations, unions, airport operators, the government regulatory authority and lobbyists. And, in the social media age, the airline’s image is largely owned and shaped by the public. The “ands” go on and on.

With so many variables influencing brand perception, airlines need to be laser-focused on communicating their brand at every touchpoint, delivering crystal clear differentiation with ruthless consistency.

New materials
Inside the cabin, recently developed and certified materials are allowing airlines to incorporate innovative visual or tactile qualities in fabrics, carpets, curtains (see image above, a collaboration between LIFT and Botany Weaving for micro pleat curtains), seat shells, decorative laminates on walls and partitions and non-textile flooring, plus vastly improved lighting.

Airlines have more ways than ever to better communicate their brand attributes. For example, fabrics whose appearance changes depending on angle of view, seat shells with a silk-like texture, and new thermoplastic materials (KYDEX® sheet shown above), a wood or stone look on lavatory flooring, translucent plastics and mood lighting. Sometimes even the not-very-sexy seatbelt can, in just the right colour, communicate a particular quality or attitude of the brand.

The cabin interior industry has made huge advances in the development of materials that look stunning, can be installed and maintained without breaking the bank, and pass all regulatory requirements. This is truly no small feat. And yet many passengers, particularly in the US, might say “they all look the same to me.”
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JetBlue’s new transcontinental A321s to feature private suites and a ‘snack station’

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By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

In order to attract premium yields from business travelers, competition on transcontinental routes between New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco is fierce with all major national carriers on the route trying to find their point of difference and fight for the heavy traffic between the three hubs.

New York-based JetBlue is also joining this transcontinental ‘arms race’ with dedicated sub-fleet of 11 brand new A321s. After a sneak peek of the airline’s new A321 cabin a few weeks back when they launched a first video, the airline has shared more details of its new transcontinental premium product, called Mint.

Starting at a mind-bending USD499 one way, JetBlue has managed to surpass our expectations yet again with the fare being yet another reason to fly with the airline. Said JetBlue Chief Executive Dave Barger in a statement: “Mint is stylish service minus all of the stuffiness often associated with the traditional front-of-the-cabin experience. JetBlue is truly all about serving the underserved, the customer who wants to enjoy first-rate service at an exceptional and affordable fare.”

The Mint seat
JetBlue has invested in both Business and Economy, with the coach section featuring slim-line seats, larger touch-screen TVs, as well as an extra legroom section. The big showpiece though is the ‘Mint’ Business Class product, a first for what is fundamentally a low-cost carrier. The Mint cabin features 16 fully lie-flat beds up to 6′ 8″ (203cm) long with rows 1 and 3 featuring a 2 x 2 seating and rows 2 and 4 having a more private 1 x 1 seating configuration with closing doors.

The private sliding door idea is a nice little touch, especially on the single solitary seats as it makes the 2nd and 4th rows much more appealing and sort after as a solitary traveller, although we feel the sliding doors are more a sales gimmick that practical elements a traveller really actually requires on a 5-6 hour flight.
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Beyond full-flat beds and slim-line seats » How airlines can differentiate the passenger experience ‘up in the air’

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Download this article as pdf »

This article is based on presentations that airlinetrends.com gave earlier this year at the 2013 Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg and the recent FTE 2013 ‘Up In The Air’ conference in Las Vegas. 

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Airlines around the world are working hard to keep up with the cabin interior upgrade arms race by introducing bigger and better premium seats in Business and First, and smarter and lighter designs in Economy. Furthermore, the latest cabins are roomier, have improved air quality and feature mood lighting.

At the same time airlines are coming up with creative ways to improve the ‘softer’ elements of the inflight experience, such as  delivering a more personal service, providing passengers with real-time information, creating ‘virtual classes’, etcetera. Here are five ways how airlines can improve the hospitality part of the inflight experience.

1. Personal service 

In the past year, airlines such as Emirates, British Airways, Iberia, KLM and EVA Air have equipped their pursers with tablets. This allows the cabin crew to see which previous trips a passenger has taken with the carrier before and based on this, know their food, wine and seating preferences, and any issues a customer had during their previous travels. This enables crew to offer a more personal and relevant service to frequent flyers.

Obviously, the next step is to connect the crew tablets to the Internet as the availability of aircraft with onboard wifi grows. This will close the customer service loop for airlines, as they will be able to connect with crew and passengers up in the air. For example, iPads used by pursers onboard British Airways’ Business Class-only service between London City Airport and New York’s JFK receive live updates throughout the flight, thanks to the aircraft’s inflight connectivity provided by OnAir. It should be a matter of time before airlines such as Emirates – which already offers connectivity on the majority of its fleet and has equipped its pursers with HP Elitepad devices – will follow.

2. Real-time information

Within the next five to six years it can be fully expected for real-time customer service to be an industry standard. With the rise of passenger smartphone use, in-flight connectivity and airlines’ commitment to mobile technologies and social media, soon customers will be able to evaluate every aspect of their experience in real-time, thus enabling issues to be corrected on the spot.

For example, Delta passengers on domestic flights can use Delta’s smartphone app to track their checked baggage with the bag tag number that they received at the time of baggage check-in. Since Delta has equipped all its domestic aircraft with GoGo’s in-flight Internet passengers can check whether their bag has made it on their flight while being up in the air.
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