CABIN / SEATS

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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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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Long-haul low-cost carrier Scoot takes a cue from AirAsia X with new quiet zone

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Singapore Airlines’ budget subsidiary Scoot is the latest airline to embrace a child-free zone, banning children from the front section of its Economy cabin. Launched at the end of August, the new product is called ScootinSilence and takes up rows 21-25, which are located immediately behind the ScootBiz cabin on the long-haul low-cost carrier’s fleet of B777-200ER aircraft.

The cabin has 41 of Scoot’s Super and Stretch extra-legroom seats  (35-inches – four more than economy) and has been declared off-limits to passengers under 12 years, a move which the airline hopes will create a quiet zone.

“ScootinSilence is the perfect option for guests seeking an exclusive cabin, extra legroom and confidence that under 12’s will be seated in another part of the aircraft” said Scoot CEO Campbell Wilson. “No offence to our young guests or those travelling with them”, he added, “you still have the rest of the aircraft to choose from.”

The price for a ScootinSilence seat is an additional SGD18 (USD14) on top of the regular economy fare. A ScootBiz seat costs from SGD99 (USD77) more than an economy seat.

AirAsia X, Malaysia Airlines
This is not the first time an airline has adopted a ban on children in a part of its cabin. In February 2013, rival long-haul low-cost carrier AirAsia X introduced a ‘Quiet Zone’ on its A330 aircraft, where Economy passengers can travel without being disturbed by kids or chatting passengers. Malaysia Airlines last year also introduced a child-free zone on the upper deck of its A380s in a gesture to businesss passengers travelling on full-fare Economy tickets. The airline also bans kids from its First Class cabins.

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

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By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

FlyDubai, the up and coming short and mid-haul carrier from Dubai, has recently given their competitors a run for their money. From early October on, the low-cost airline will be rolling out Business Class seating across their fleet with 3 rows of 2×2 seating to form the front of their planes.  The new ‘soft Italian leather’ seats, similar in offerings to most American First Class seats, will boast a 12.1 inch high-definition touch-screen TV, in seat power and a seat pitch of 42″, perfect for relaxing and browsing the 900 hours of entertainment options.

This isn’t just about the seat, as the pseudo-low-cost carrier will also offer all the traditional benefits, including priority check in, lounges and full 3-course meals on flights over 90 minutes. They also announced that later this year, passengers will be able to relax in FlyDubai’s Business Class lounge ahead of their flight and will have access to priority baggage collection upon arrival at their destination.

Commenting on the launch of the airline’s Business Class services, Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO of FlyDubai, stated, “We are very pleased to announce the evolution of our passenger offering as we continue to meet the travel needs of our customers. The introduction of Business Class will provide greater choice for our passengers, who will have access to faster check-in services, comfortable and spacious seating and can enjoy a variety of internationally -inspired menus during their journey.”

The airline has just received its first Business Class equipped aircraft and the first route where FlyDubai will deploy its new Business Class will be between Dubai and Kiev on October 8, followed by Male, Istanbul, Mineralyne Vody and Bucharest later this year.
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Emirates new ‘Executive A319’ features private jet lounge and First Class suites

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By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

Emirates has always been a luxurious airline, and their First Class is amongst one of the best in the skies, so no surprise that they have decided to include the award winning First Class suite in their new executive jet. Many airlines have taken to providing an executive jet service, from Qatar Airways to Lufthansa, but none have really considered offering something to this level of luxury. Your own private A319 jet will take you wherever you and 18 of your associates want to go.

Dubbed ‘Emirates Executive‘ the new service is the epitome of luxury, and no doubt will have a hefty price tag associated with it, but that price tag includes 10 private First Class suites, a lounge with chairs and a sofa, table and all the executive mod cons you would require, and to top it off, a shower, once only available on the super-giant A380s.

We have always looked at executive jets as a little less luxurious than first class suites, lacking in the privacy or exclusive touches such as personal TVs, AVOD, bedding etc, and finally it seems that the airline has learned that exclusive jets should mean the same, (or if not more) level of quality in the product as their first class suites and this aircraft layout seems to work perfectly. We love the fact the branding of the aircraft is subdued, with just the Emirates logo appearing by the door, and the rest of the airframe with a simple white exterior [video here].

The ten Private Suites are each equipped with sliding privacy doors, fully-flat bed seats, visitor’s seat, personal mini-bar and a 32” screen displaying our award-winning ICE entertainment system. Full Wi-Fi, mobile phone connectivity, and video conferencing are also available throughout your flight. One thing is for sure, we are going to start playing the lottery a lot more now….

JetBlue unveils new ‘transcontinental’ A321 interior featuring private suites

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By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

JetBlue, New York’s ‘homegrown airline’ has released on their video channel a sneak peek of what we can expect on their new fleet of A321′s coming out in 2014, which will be flying the transcontinental East Coast – West Coast flights, competing with the likes of American, United, Delta and Virgin America who have all lifted the quality of product for the 5 to 6 hour trek.

The airline has invested in both business and economy, featuring slim-line seats, with larger touch-screen TVs, and still maintaining their extra legroom seating. Whilst this is just an artists impression (more images here), the detail seems fairly accurate, and we can see the headrests will be fairly slim too. Perhaps lowering the comfort of their seats, they can up-sell their amenity packages of pillows and blankets.

The big showpiece here though is the new Business Class product. A first for what is fundamentally a low-cost carrier. 16 private suites in 4 rows, rows 1 and 3 featuring a 2 x 2 seating and rows 2 and 4 having a more private 1 x 1 seating configuration. The Thomson Vantage full flat seats are a similar product to that seen on international carriers such as Delta and Brussels Airlines.

The private sliding door idea is a nice little touch, especially on the single solitary seats, however, on the dual seats, you lose out on this feature. Making the 2nd and 4th rows much more appealing and sort after as a solitary traveller. We feel the sliding doors are more a sales gimmick that practical elements a traveller really actually requires on a 5-6 hour flight. The inconsistency of the product in business class may also work against the carrier, as someone who flies in the private suite and then is only offered a regular business class seat may decide to decline the purchase and move to a differing carrier. Only time will tell…

Singapore Airlines further upgrades its cabins

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By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

Singapore Airlines has been the epitome of luxury for many years now. Many airlines look to the airline, not only for the product they have onboard, but the way that Singapore Airlines effortlessly conveys luxury and sophistication. Singapore Airlines has not failed to deliver on their latest incarnation of products which will replace the current fleets slightly older, but by no means tired cabins. The first aircraft to adopt these new cabins will be the 777-300ER and when it comes into service, the A350. Passengers between Singapore and London will be the first to experience the new seats when they come on line in September.

“The significant investment in our next generation of cabin products reaffirms our commitment to product innovation and leadership, and demonstrates our confidence in the future for premium full-service air travel,” said SIA’s Executive Vice President Commercial, Mr Mak Swee Wah. The products seem to be more like luxury train or car, and this is no surprise, as the release is the result of more than two years of working with world-renowned design firms. BMW Group DesignworksUSA assisted with the development of the new First Class, James Park Associates assisted with Business Class and Massive Interactive with the in-flight entertainment system interface.

We take a look at the products a little closer.

First Class
Singapore Airlines’ new First Class seat, features a new fixed-back shell design with curved side panels to provide a clear demarcation of personal space, for added privacy. At 35 inches in width and with an increased bed length from 80 to 82 inches, it is one of the most spacious First Class products in the sky. (But not the most!) Extensive research was conducted to determine how best to increase the comfort of the new First Class seat. An ergonomically sculpted cushion and improved adjustable headrest have been introduced for greater seating comfort, while new features such as a padded headboard for extra support and an additional mattress layer ensure customers enjoy a good rest. The attention to detail here is superb, and shows great research into the seating habits of travellers in such products. We personally love the two types of backing to the seat, depending whether you are configured in bed or seat mode.
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How new technologies are improving the onboard passenger experience

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

The acceleration of wifi installations onboard aircraft around the world, combined with the large number of passengers carrying one or more digital devices, is creating a momentum that sees many of today’s inflight innovations focusing on digital developments.

In this three-part series on how new technologies are improving the onboard passenger experience, we will take a look at some of the major initiaves and innovations that are the result of this convergence. This first article will focus on the implications for seat design, the provision of real-time information to passengers, and opportunities to improve onboard customer service. The second article will highlight the latest in inflight entertainment (both fixed and wireless), followed by onboard ancillary revenue generation and personalization in the last part.

Power ports and storage
The first impact of today’s tech-toting passengers is on cabin ‘hardware’. Airlines around the world are responding to the large number of passengers carrying smartphones, notebooks, tablets and e-readers by equipping seats with power 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.

Besides creating storage space for personal electronic devices for the more spacious seating arrangements in Business Class, several seat manufacturers are also beginning to incorporate smartly designed spaces in Economy seats where passengers can store their mobile device.

For example, passengers travelling in Economy on Air France’s A380 and select B777-300s can store their cell phone into a small belonging stowage, which is located just below the in-seat USB port to allow for easy recharging of the device. 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.

Meanwhile, startup companies such as SmartTray and SkyCast have come up with simple yet smart tray table designs that feature a built-in groove, or two clips, for holding tablets, e-readers and other portable electronic devices upright. For example, Canadian budget airline WestJet rents out Android tablets that clip onto the back of the seat tray in a design called TrayVu.
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TAM’s new First Class recreates a living room up in the air

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

TAM, the ambitious flag carrier of Brazil which earlier this year merged with LAN from Chile to create a Latin American airline giant, has just unveiled new cabin interiors – designed by Priestmangoode – to mark its arrival on the world stage.

Says Priestmangoode Director Luke Hawes: “Our work for TAM is crucial to their brand development, giving them the customer experience they need as they move up to become a major international carrier. The designs we will roll out across their entire fleet will present them as an important international player and give them the tools they need to compete with the world’s other major international carriers.”

Interior redesign
In 2009, TAM hired Priestmangoode to redesign the entire onboard experience – from cabin architecture, seats, galleys and lavatories to staff uniforms, in-flight amenities and the graphic user interface (GUI) of the IFE system. According to TAM Brand Manager Ricardo Cruz, the airline aims “to put TAM on the map” with the new cabin interior program, which is “inspired by everything Brazil has got to offer.” A nice illustration of this is the floor pattern of the bathrooms which is inspired by the famous Copacabana sidewalks in Rio de Janeiro.

Four classes
TAM’s new cabin interior has already made its debut on three new Boeing 777-300ERs delivered to the airline in the past few weeks. The new B777s can seat 368 passengers in 4 classes: First, Business, Space + and Economy.

TAM’s Economy cabin has received a colourful makeover and features rows of seats – manufactured by Weber – in various bright colours that reflect the carrier’s Brazilian origin: lime green, aqua blue and a brighter shade of TAM’s corporate red. TAM will also introduce a new ‘Space +’ product, which offers similar seats as in Economy, but with a larger seat pitch and recline, as well as a different seat colour. Read full article »

Japan Airlines goes private with ‘Sky Suites’ in Business Class

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Declared bankrupt in 2010 after a decade of losses, Japan Airlines (JAL) last week returned to the Tokyo stock exchange in a USD 8.5 billion IPO that followed a government-backed restructuring under which the airline shed more than a third of its jobs, persuaded its unionised pilots and staff to take big pay cuts, slashed pension payouts and retired older fuel-inefficient aircraft.

In the next five years, JAL aims to boost international capacity with 25 percent, as it contends with a shrinking population and new competition from low-cost carriers at home. Similar to local rival All Nippon Airways (ANA), JAL is banking on Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner (of which it has received 4 so far, with more than 40 on order) for its expension.

JAL is also seeking to close the service gap with ANA, and – following years of underinvestment – just announced a massive upgrade of its international fleet. Called ‘New Sky’, the upgrade program will revamp seats in all cabins for the first time in 10 years, as well as introduce new catering concepts. JAL’s Business Class, however, is receiving the most extreme makeover.

‘Sky Suites’
Dubbed ‘JAL SKY SUITE’, the new seats will be the first time that JAL is installing full-flat beds in Business Class (even JAL’s new B787s still feature angled lie-flat seats). Says JAL’s VP Marketing Jun Kato, “We felt we were lagging behind other carriers where full-flat seats are standard.”

According to JAL, it wants passengers to “experience comfort and privacy similar to First Class” with its new Business product and the airline is installing an adapted version of B/E Aerospace’s ‘Super First Class’ seat for its Sky Suite. A luxury version of this B/E Aerospace seat is used as First Class seat by several other airlines. Despite a 2-3-2 layout, a staggered configuration allows each passenger to have direct and unobstructed aisle access.
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