Google Flights includes CO2 emission in flight search listings

This article earlier appeared as Innovation of the Day on TrendWatching

For anyone who needs or wants to travel fast and far, flying is still the way to go. While consumers increasingly feel at least a twinge of flygskam before booking a flight, desire and necessity mean air travel won’t disappear. And for mass travel, that currently still means fossil-fueled planes.

So there’s every reason to help people turn their environmental awareness into actions that lower their carbon footprint. And narrowing down options to the least environmentally harmful option has the added appeal of sidestepping choice overload.

Google Flights
Google Flights earlier this month announced it now includes estimated CO2 emissions in flight search results and on booking pages. In addition to sorting by price or duration, users can now sort by emission, and if trains are an option on their selected route, Google shows those as well.

James Byers, a senior product manager on the Google travel team, said the emissions estimates are based on a combination of factors, such as the distance of a trip, the number of stops, the number and class of seats on board, the type of aircraft, and data from the European Environment Agency.

Any options with “significantly lower” carbon emissions will be given a green badge that you’ll spot when searching Google Flights. You can also sort by the carbon emissions to work out which is the greenest airline or flight available to you.

It turns out other brilliant minds were working on this, too. Created by Good Caesar — ‘a design and technology studio with an affinity for maps and aviation’ — Lite.Flights uses data from frequently updated search results and aims to add more destinations over time. It isn’t currently connected to a booking engine. Read full article »

SWISS partners with Too Good To Go to sell leftover food on last flights of the day

This article earlier appeared as Innovation of the Day on TrendWatching

If food loss and waste was a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, following China and the US, according to the World Resources Institute.

Which is why brands in all industries are seeking practical solutions to avoid food waste from occurring. And when they can’t, to divert it from regular refuse streams.

Try as they might to avoid food waste by matching supplies with passenger demand, as long as airlines serve foods on flights, there will be leftovers. To tackle that issue, SWISS is now partnering with Too Good To Go. SWISS earlier this year introduced paid F&B inflight on all its short-haul routes as part of a Lufthansa Group-wide initiative.

On the last flights of the day, all leftover fresh food items are divvied up into paper bags and offered to passengers on board, for a third of the usual price. Like most of the ‘magic bags’ offered on Too Good To Go’s platform, customers don’t know exactly what they’ll be getting. SWISS is trialling the project on European flights from Geneva, through the end of September.

Of course, selling leftovers only works if passengers want to eat them once they’ve left the plane. Since SWISS consistently gets high marks for its inflight meals, consumers are more likely to welcome the opportunity to grab a midnight snack or next day’s lunch on their way out.

While SWISS is offering passengers leftovers through Too Good To Go – Munich Airport also joined forces with the anti-food waste platform in 2018 – Japan Airlines recently announced that by 2025, it will be composting 100% of unused meals for use as fertilizer.

Who’s leading the way in your market?

Airlines are rewarding passengers who bring-their-own cup

Images by @all_things_H20 and Flight Report

“The paper coffee cup has long been a timestamp of the morning, a symbol of a certain kind of harried success.” This ‘sign of the times’ quote by food and dining platform Eater gives a good indication of our ‘to go’ lifestyle, but also how our perception of status is constantly changing.

As the vast majority of these disposable cups can’t be recycled, due to their polyethylene lining, coffee stores and F&B outlets have started to encourage customers to bring their own cup instead. What started as a niche behaviour by consumers who are looking for ways to consume more ‘guilt-free’, the bring-your-own-cup (BYOC) movement rapidly caught on in Anglo-Saxon countries like the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand.

And as the ‘war on waste’ is becoming mainstream, chains such as Starbucks, Costa Coffee, Pret a Manger, and McDonalds now also offer a discount to customers who bring their own cup. Read full article »

Short-hauling: Spanish regional airline Air Nostrum wants to operate high-speed rail routes

As short-haul flying is mostly a tedious, uncomfortable experience with lots of queuing and waiting, while at the same time a growing number of consumers have become more conscious about the environmental impact of air travel, the popularity of high-speed rail as an alternative to short-haul flying has steadily been growing.

Compared to air travel within a range of around 700 kilometer, high-speed rail means less hassle, because of direct connections between city centers, lighter security and luggage regulations, and a much more comfortable journey.

In Europe, for example Eurostar’s London-Amsterdam service – which was launched in April this year – has proved such a success that the train operator expects to operate a third and possibly even a fourth daily service from next year on.

And on many city pairs, high-speed rail now has a much higher market share than air travel. For example, between Madrid and Barcelona, 65 percent of the market has moved to high-speed rail, while ItaloTren has a market share of 75 percent between Milan and Rome. In Japan, the Shinkansen for a long time has a market share of over 85 percent on the routes between Tokyo and Osaka and between Kyoto/Osaka and Fukuoka.

And as Google Flights nows shows Deutsche Bahn as alternative to a flight when searching for a fare between for example Amsterdam and Frankfurt (a journey of over 400 km), ‘short-hauling’ via high-speed rail is on track for further growth.

High-speed rail as feeder
Several airlines and rail companies are already working together to provide travellers with a seamless ‘intermodal’ connection, effectively using high-speed rail as feeder service to long-haul flights.

For example, Lufthansa Express Rail is a collaboration between the airline and Deutsche Bahn and provides passengers with an integrated booking from 8 destinations throughout Germany to and from Frankfurt Airport. This means reserved seats on the train, remote baggage check-in, plus a guaranteed connection. Lufthansa will expand its Express Rail service to 20 German destinations by mid-2019. Read full article »

JetBlue installs free book vending machines in low-literacy neighbourhoods

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This case appears in the August 2015 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by airlinetrends.com and Simpliflying that identifies the latest innovative marketing campaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »

JetBlue has extended its social responsibility initiatives with a pilot program aimed to close the literacy gap in a low-income town by providing vending machines that give out thousands of free books to underprivileged children. A selection of 12 books rotates every two weeks, offering up to 42 different titles through the summer.

The airline teamed-up with publishing company Random House to place three vending book machines around the low-literacy neighbourhood of Anacostia, in Washington, D.C. which was chosen to launch this program after a study commissioned by JetBlue found that the Anacostia section of D.C. is a large ‘book desert’, leaving residents little or no access to purchase age-appropriate children’s books. According to city school data, the area sees less than 25 per cent of its middle schools (for children aged between 11-15) able to ready at grade level.

The kiosks have been placed at a Salvation Army’s community center, a Safeway store on Alabama Avenue and near the entrance of a Baptist Church.

To help their children enjoy their books, parents can opt-in to an SMS campaign that offers reading tips, as well as updates when the vending machines are re-stocked with fresh selections.

“Innovative solutions that involve and engage the community is necessary to combat the current summer slump that happens especially in underserved communities,” said Icema Gibbs, JetBlue’s director of corporate social responsibility. Read full article »

Charity organizations get creative in raising donations from travellers at the airport

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By Malgorzata Lach, smartaer.com

Obeying restrictions and rules put upon passengers by safety regulators and airlines is unavoidable in air travel. The nature of regulations can also vary, making it harder for the travelling public to get their travels organized. Furthermore, some of the limitations come up unexpectedly for inexperienced travellers and require immediate reaction.

In response, a few forward-looking airports in Northern Europe decided to turn things around and change those unanticipated situations into positive outcomes.

Overweight Baggage Dropp Point (Rygge Airport, Norway)
One rule that certainly affects the majority of the travelling public is the baggage weight limit. When dealing with an overweight bag issue, some passengers decide to stick to their plans and pay the additional charges in order to check in what they have packed, while others go through their suitcases and remove the stuff they need the least. In the worst case they will have to dump some of their belongings in a waste bin at the airport.

To ease the pain of leaving ones personal possessions behind, Fretex – a Norwegian chain of second hand stores that is run by the Salvation Army – came up with a creative solution. The charity organization partnered with Moss Rygge Airport, which is located 60 kilometres from Oslo, Norway, to install an ‘Overweight Baggage Drop Point’.

Consisting of a weighing scale and an used clothing container, the dedicated area allows travellers drop off their clothes to avoid extra charges and at the same time do something good by donating them to those in need. Video of how the charity service works here. Read full article »

KLM gives used bikes a second life in Ecuador and Kenya

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

A sympathetic and clever way for airlines to give back to society is to use their ‘corporate infrastructure’ to assist social initiatives. For example, back in 2012 Spanish flag carrier Iberia, national pizza chain Telepizza and open innovation network Ideas4All organized the ‘Books for Colombia’ campaign which saw Telepizza asking its customers to donate unused books to the pizza delivery person after they have ordered a home delivery. Iberia then flew all collected books to Colombia for free where they were distributed to local schools.

A similar concept has also been carried out by KLM over the past few years.

‘White bikes’
Located near the center of the Netherlands, De Hoge Veluwe National Park is one of the nation’s most visited national parks. It’s 5,500 hectares (55 km2) are home to the renowded Kröller-Müller museum, a wide variety of plants and animals – and about 1,800 white bicycles. These bicycles were introduced to the park in 1974 to provide free – and environmentally responsible – transportation in and around the park.

Each year, De Hoge Veluwe retires and replaces about a fifth of its bike fleet and wants to ensure that their retired and refurbished bikes are given a meaningful second life. The bicycles are therefore not discarded but are given a new purpose. First they get fixed up at nearby De Hoenderloo Groep, a training and residential ceter for disadvantaged youth. Then hundreds of the bikes get a free transport – courtesy of KLM – to a destination where they can be put to good use. Read full article »

Discarded airline materials are upcycled into sports gear, soccer balls and handbags

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

We have reported before on ‘upcycle’ initiatives from airlines, with carriers such as KLM (uniforms), Finnair (seat covers, seat belts, curtains), Delta (seat covers) and Air France (life jackets) giving discarded airline interior materials a second life as stylish bags. The benefits are three-fold: waste is recycled, airlines add an eco-friendly touch to their brands, and many consumers like the story behind the upcycled product. Here a few more interesting recent examples.

Boeing: From carbon fiber to sports gear
Boeing and American manufacturer of sports equipment Russell Brands are working together to incorporate leftover carbon fiber from B787 Dreamliner production in Russell Athletic protective athletic gear. Composite materials make up 50 percent of the primary structure of the 787, including the fuselage and wing.

Boeing and Russell Athletic see significant benefits in using aerospace-grade carbon fiber because the carbon filaments provide a high strength-to-weight ratio and greater durability. Aerospace-grade carbon fiber is thinner, stronger and approximately 10 percent lighter compared to competitors.

An initial collaboration uses the material in Russell Athletic’s new CarbonTek football shoulder pad system. The aerospace-grade carbon fiber is strong, thin, light and durable, Boeing said. In football pads it also offers increased range of motion and secure fit for the athlete’s body.

Boeing says several “elite” college players from Division I universities will be wearing the CarbonTek during the upcoming football season, as well as Russell Athletic’s three pro football ambassadors: Pierre Garcon, Mark Ingram and Colt McCoy.

Southwest: From seat to soccer ball
After a large-scale interior redesign of many of its B737 aircraft, Southwest found itself with an excess of 80,000 leather seat covers — enough to fill the EmpireStateBuilding. “We had this idea of ‘could we do something with this leather beyond recycling it or shredding it? Could we repurpose it?'” says Marilee McInnis, the airline’s senior manager of culture and communications.

Southwest dubbed the initiative “Luv Seat: Repurpose with Purpose” and reached out to potential partners to take the used leather, but found that there were few takers. Read full article »

Bottle return machine at Frankfurt Airport donates proceeds to charity of choice

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Since security rules were tightened more than a decade ago, passengers are not allowed to take their  cans and bottles through security. This has been a nuisance for the travelling public, as many people for example have to purchase a bottle of water again beyond security to replace the one left behind.

However, a growing number of airports around the world are coming up with innovative schemes to solve this situation and to reduce waste at the same time.

San Francisco International Airport, for instance, encourages passengers passing through its new Terminal 2 to empty their plastic containers before entering the screening area. After passing through the checkpoint, passengers can stop at so-called ‘hydration stations’ to refill their water bottles for free.

Frankfurt Airport
Frankfurt Airport has installed a bottle return machine in its Terminal 1 that lets passengers cut waste while backing their choice from four charities. Passengers can now throw away their liquid cans and bottles at the terminal’s security checkpoint into a custom-made bottle return machine. As German law makes deposits obligatory for single-use cans and bottles passengers can help their selected charity at the same time as well.

The WWF World Wide Fund for Nature, featuring the Panda symbol, is one option. By clicking on the LOG (Luftfahrt ohne Grenzen – Aviation Without Borders) logo, passengers support this relief organization. Passengers who prefer to support charities in the Frankfurt region may decide for the Frankfurter Tafel, an organization donating food to the needy, or the Franziskustreff, a Frankfurt-based fund for the homeless.  If no choice is made, the donation automatically goes to the WWF.

Frankfurt Airport says the bottle return machine is very well received by passengers. Should the feedback continue to develop positively, the return system will be installed at other locations throughout the airport.

Air France upcycles old life jackets and advertising posters into stylish must-haves

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By Debbie Pappyn, Classe Touriste

If you like the life jacket the flight attending is showing during her emergency presentation, you might want to check out Air France’s new cooperation with the French upcycle brand bilum. Both brands are presenting a collection of travel cases made from recycled life jackets and old advertising posters that were on display at Paris Orly airport in spring 2012.

As all life jackets have a limited lifespan, Air France has asked bilum to give them a new life, rather than destroying them. This partnership fits into Air France’s philosophy to reduce its environmental impact and to give something back to certain communities.

The first collection of 400 cases made from life jackets were launched in December 2012 and are available for sale online at Air France and Bilum at a price of 19 euros for the flat case and 24 euros including tax for the padded case.

For the moment you can still buy bags and ticket wallets made from the giant Air France canvas posters dating from summer 2012. The posters show a girl lying in the green grass on a bed of flowers in the shape of an airplane. Prices range from 69 euro to 285 euro for a bag.

All cases from bilum are manufactured in France by people with disabilities as part of a work insertion scheme by the E.S.A.T., a French organisation that aims to integrate people with disabilities into the mainstream labour market. They are hand-cut from a piece of the jacket or poster and the fabric is not changed in any way, so that each case is unique. No two items are the same.

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport’s new electric taxi service comes with in-car wi-fi

Aiming to provide business travellers with an easy transfer to and from the airport, Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport has aunched the Schiphol Business Taxi, a luxury taxi service designed to help business travellers start or end their journey in business class style. Besides petrol-powered vehicles, the new taxi service also offers a green, electric option, the so-called ‘Electric Business Taxi’.

Electric taxi
The Schiphol ‘Electric Business Taxi’ is 100 percent powered by electricity and can cover a radius of around 100 kilometers. This makes it suited to short distances, such as journeys between Schiphol and central Amsterdam or the Amsterdam Zuidas business district. Taxi drivers receive a short training to learn to reduce speed by using the engine, instead of the brakes, in order to generate as much energy as possible and maximise the radius. The electric taxis also offer wi-fi connectivity, which eventually will be rolled out to all Schiphol Business Taxis as well.

The business taxi service can be reserved up to four hours ahead of departure, and passengers can be picked up at (or transported to) anywhere in the Netherlands. Rates for a transfer for one person with luggage are EUR42 into the business district, EUR58 to the centre of Amsterdam and EUR124 o central Rotterdam. Extra services such as an escort to and from the gate and check-in assistance are also offered. The service is offered by a joint venture between Schiphol and Connexxion, the largest public transport company in the Netherlands.

Better Place
There are currently 2 electric Renault Fluence Z.E. (zero emission) taxis in operation and another 4 vehicles will be added this June. The Renault Fluence Z.E. cars are the result of a partnership between Schiphol Airport, the City of Amsterdam and Better Place, a company that provides what it calls “electric car networks,” a network of battery switch stations combined with the supply of batteries that power the electric cars.
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Air France asks passengers to recycle their newspapers when leaving the aircraft

Besides taking measures to significantly reduce fuel consumption by flying new and re-engined aircraft, experimenting with biofuel, creating more economical flight paths and descents, applying winglets and nano paint in order to streamline aircraft even further, and reducing weight of cargo containers and cabin interiors (e.g, seats, trolleys), airlines have also come up with eco-initiatives that are more visibile to passengers, most notably onboard recycling.

Onboard recycling
As a spokesman of UK-based leisure airline Monarch stated when the airline introduced an onboard recycling program several years ago: “Monarch has been operating a paper collection scheme onboard its flights for a number of years now,” he said, “but feedback from passengers and crew highlighted the fact that the recycling of other items, such as plastics and cans, is a part of everyday life now which people wished to continue – if they were at home they’d be recycling the items, so why should they not do so on flights?”

Air France
Air France, which says it already recycles that 80 percent of the items used for onboard service, has now come up with a small, but sympathetic initiative, that shows passengers that it makes an effort to recycle as many items as possible. The airline recently began asking passengers on domestic and European flights to drop their free newspapers in a dedicated container when leaving the aircraft. Local businesses then collect the newspapers and recycle them. According to the airline,  tests carried out with customers show that over 75 percent of passengers place their newspapers in these containers.

Air France says it also seeks to recycle its polystyrene meal boxes that are distributed on its European routes. Meal packs on medium-haul Air France flights are made of recyclable polystyrene and cabin crew collect and sort the used packs, which when recycled by the supplier are used to make Air France cutlery.
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Iberia teams up with pizza delivery chain to collect unused books for charity

Spanish national carrier Iberia, pizza chain Telepizza and open innovation network Ideas4All in January 2012 launched a ‘Books for Colombia’ campaign with the aim of bringing some 70,000 textbooks and reading books to underprivileged Colombian children and teenagers. The campaign, which kicked off on January 10 and ended on February 10, 2012, called on customers of Telepizza to contribute books they no longer need but that are in good condition.

‘Books for Colombia’ arose from a suggestion made by a Telepizza employee to the Ideas4All website, noting that the boxes on the motorbikes used to deliver pizzas to homes might be used for something worthwhile on the return journey. Telepizza is a Spanish pizza chain that operates more than 600 stores in Spain and over 400 outlets in countries such as Portugal, Chile and Colombia.

Customers could donate books that they no longer use to the Telepizza delivery person, after they have ordered a home delivery. Alternatively, they could donate them directly in any of the Telepizza outlets participating in the campaign. The collected books will be flown to Colombia by Iberia in March, where they will be classified and distributed to 120 libraries and schools in Colombian rural and inner cities by local NGO Buena Nota. Says Manuel López Aguilar, Iberia’s Manager of Sales and Customers, “We loved this idea from the start, since it involves two of Iberia’s hallmarks: as a bridge to Latin America, and as a proactive promoter of culture and human progress.”
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Southwest gives its 737 interiors a ‘green’ makeover

Southwest Airlines in October 2009 turned a B737-700 into a ‘beta-plane’ to test a series of sustainable interior materials, such as environmental-friendly leather and recycable carpet. This so-called ‘Green Plane’ has been operating in regular revenue service, so Southwest could evaluate normal wear and durability. Based on the in-flight test results and feedback from customers onboard the Green Plane, Southwest has just announced its new ‘Evolve’ interior, which will feature refurbished seats, more under-seat space, new carpets and a more stylish colour palette. Southwest says the materials used are “green” and lighter, reducing each aircraft’s weight by several hundred pounds per plane, thereby saving fuel and costs.

Seats, carpet
APEX reports that Southwest is retaining the B/E Aerospace-manufactured ‘Innovator II’ seat frames on its 737-700s, but will add fixed wing head rests, new, thinner, more durable foam fill, and synthetic ‘E-Leather’ seat covers – an eco-friendly, lightweight and scuff resistant alternative to traditional leather. The airline is also removing the under-seat floatation device – and instead adding smaller and lighter life vest pouches – to create weight savings of nearly six pounds per seat. A smart new feature are netted seat pockets, which have so-called ‘crumb catchers’ at the bottom that can be zippered open to allow the crumbs to come out. Furthermore, completely recyclable, carbon-neutral carpet from InterfaceFLOR will be laid in squares, rather than rolls, which eliminates the need for total carpet replacement.

The slimmer refurbished seats will also allow Southwest to reduce seat pitch from 32 to 31 inch and add an additional row on its 737-700s without sacrificing personal space. Southwest, however, emphasizes that “it was never our objective to add a row of seats, and the extra row isn’t the main reason for this redesign. Once we examined how much space would be saved, it was determined we could accommodate the increase, without sacrificing comfort.”

Sky Interior
Southwest will receive its first 737-800 ‘Sky Interior’ aircraft with the new Evolve interior in April 2012 and subsequently will start a retrofit of its fleet of 372 B737-700s. The operation is planned to be completed by the end of 2013 and represents an USD60 million investment. The airline, however, anticipates the new interior – coupled with the gain in seat capacity – will produce savings of about USD250 million annually.
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European airlines pioneer world’s first scheduled commercial biofuel flights

With the world’s population growing and becoming increasingly wealthy, IATA estimates 16 billion passengers will fly each year by 2050. But as passenger counts grow, airlines are needing ever-more fuel to keep their fleets in the sky. As air transport is the only mode of transport that will remain dependent upon liquid fuels for the foreseeable future, the aviation industry and the research community has no choice other than to develop and test alternatives. Furthermore, with oil prices rising and European emissions trading slated to begin in 2012, airlines will be faced with new expenses. Not only will they have to pay for the fuel the industry consumes, they’ll also need to acquire certificates for each ton of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere.

Airlines in June 2011 won approval from from the US standards body ASTM International to power planes with blends including biofuels for commercial flights. Biofuel refers to fuel made from renewable organic raw materials and is more efficient than kerosene and emits less greenhouse gas when burned. Depending on how the biomass used to make the fuel is produced, results could range between 50 and 80 percent less CO2 emissions. Although biofuel use is still not financially sustainable, as it is more expensive than ordinary aviation fuel and no large-scale production or distribution has yet been established, Europe’s first users of biofuel, KLM, Lufthansa, Finnair and Thomson Airways hope the increased interest from airlines in biofuel will encourage more companies to enter the growing market and help make it financially viable.

KLM, Finnair, Thomson
Following the world’s first demonstration flight carrying passengers with a B747 with one if its four engines running on a 50/50 blend of jetfuel and biofuel from the camelina plant, KLM aldo operated the world’s first commercial biofuel flight on June 29th 2011, using a blend of cooking oil recycled from restaurants to power a Boeing 737-800. The Dutch Inspectorate for Transport, Public Works & Water Management granted KLM permission to operate the return flight between Amsterdam and Paris Charles de Gaulle. Both flights had an almost full load of 171 passengers and KLM plans to operate some 200 AMS-CDG commercial flights powered in part by biokerosene from September 2011 on.
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