This article first appeared on Future Travel Experience (FTE)
20 April 2017 | While Business Class passengers have become used to full-flat beds, those who travel in Economy have had little to get excited about in recent times. As airlines seek to increase cabin density, many Economy passengers have seen comfort levels at best stagnate, and at worst decrease.
In-flight entertainment developments and the ongoing rollout of onboard Wi-Fi are at least helping to provide welcome distraction, but if shoulders are rubbing and legroom is limited, the Economy Class experience is unlikely to be remembered with fondness.
At the heart of the discussion about Economy Class comfort is the seat itself. Surely, if passengers have a comfortable seat, they will have a more enjoyable flight. With this simple premise in mind, FTE at the recent Aircraft Interiors Expo 2017 in Hamburg spoke to a number of aircraft seat designers and manufacturers to learn about their efforts to increase comfort across the board.
Wider Middle Seat
For example, recently we have seen several initiatives that aim to increase the popularity of the dreaded middle seat. Bombardier’s C Series aircraft (currently operated by SWISS and airBaltic) features a 3-2 configuration, with a slightly wider middle seat (19 inch vs 18.5 inches for the window and aisle seats).
Patrick Baudis, VP Marketing Bombardier Commercial Aircraft explained that feedback from airlines and passengers so far has been positive. “The wider seats are a big element that pleases the passengers. With wider seats, you can turn, you can move your legs, and that compensates for pitch to a certain extent.” Read full article »
images by PaddleYourOwnKanoo
3 April 2017 | Staff taking drink and meal orders using a digital device is a common thing in bars and restaurants around the world. Meanwhile, casual dining restaurant chains and airport F&B operators now let customers place their orders themselves, either via a tablet provided by the restaurant or via an app on their own smartphone.
Now the airline industry is taking its first steps in this digitally-enabled F&B service. Besides the handful or airlines – including Air New Zealand, Japan Airlines, FlyDubai and Virgin America – that allow passengers to place orders via the in-seat IFE system, Emirates has recently issued so-called ‘Meal Ordering Devices’ to all its flight attendants who work in Business Class.
Meal Ordering Device (MOD)
Cabin crew recruitment portal PaddleYourOwnKanoo reports that the MOD smartphones connect to a plug-and-play WiFi router which is separate from the onboard connectivity system that passengers use.
All the smartphones (Samsung Galaxy A7) are synced to communicate with one another for the duration of the flight, don’t have a SIM card, and have been blocked from running any applications apart from the bespoke Meal Ordering app.
“The orders are taken on a hand held device and are instantly reflected on a tablet in the galley. Each order is then prepared immediately making service faster, more efficient and more personal,” said Terry Daly, Divisional Senior Vice President, Service Delivery at Emirates.
As Australian Business Traveller rightly puts it: “With as many as 76 business class passengers on an Emirates A380, the technology is proving to be a significant time-saver in keeping those premium passengers feed and watered – as well as ensuring what they’re served is precisely what they ordered, without slip-ups.” Read full article »
12 February 2017 | For years, Lufthansa has been one of the very few airlines – if not the only one – to offer passengers waiting for their flight at the gate complimentary coffee, tea (image), and newspapers at main airports around Germany, including its Frankfurt and Munich hubs.
Or as Lufthansa has stated in the past: “Offering hot beverages to passengers prior to departure is a long Lufthansa tradition. Lufthansa first began offering hot coffee and tea from large thermos flasks in the mid-80s and the first automatic vending machines serving freshly brewed coffee were installed at airports in 1993.”
However, similar to any other full service carrier around the globe who is looking to rationalize every cost item, Lufthansa has to rethink these kind of free amenities. Instead of cutting costs by simply terminating the free hot beverages and print newspapers the airline has come up with a smart alternative that taps into trends such as ‘paid premium’ and digitalization.
Coffee at the gate
Following trials in the first half of 2015 at selected gates at Frankfurt and Munich airports, Lufthansa a few months ago partnered with Nespresso to bring the ubiqituous coffee capsules to the gate area.
The premium Nespresso coffee doesn’t come for free though. Passengers can choose from regular coffee, espresso, cappuccino ior latte macchiato (the latter with fresh milk), each at the cost of 2 euros. For those passengers who might consider bringing their own coffee pods: For the business market, a different pad-shaped system of Nespresso pods exists which are not interchangeable with the consumer capsules.
According to Lufthansa, a total of 20 Nespresso Coffee Points have been placed throughout Frankfurt and Munich airports so that passengers from different gates can access the machines. Read full article »
23 November 2016 | Routes with a large number of business travellers travelling back and forth on the same day for meetings are a very lucrative market for airlines.
Examples of busy business corridors include New York and Boston, Chicago, Washington, as well as Los Angeles and San Francisco in the USA, London and Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt in Europe, Tokyo and Osaka and Shanghai and Hong Kong, Beijing in Asia. Besides strong competition between airlines, these shuttle routes also face increasing competition from high-speed rail services.
We have reported before how Delta aims to increase frequent flyer loyalty on routes between New York and Boston, Chicago, Washington, as well as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle by improving the amenities on the ground and on board.
Now JetBlue has set its eyes on the lucrative shuttle market. At the end of October, the airline lauched its first shuttle service between New York LaGuardia and Boston Logan offering 6 daily return flights.
Having stepped up competition in the transcontinental market in 2013 with its new A321 aircraft that feature the Mint Business Class, as well as amenities like an inflight snack station, JetBlue stated it plans to inject more competition into the Boston-New York airline ‘shuttle’ market, which is currently being dominated by Delta and American Airlines.
According to investment publication The Motley Fool, the airline shuttles have lost customers to rail travel since Amtrak debuted its high-speed Acela Express service between Boston and Washington in late 2000.
“Travel between Boston and LaGuardia is ready for a little JetBlue reinvention,” said Jamie Perry, VP Marketing, JetBlue. “For years, one of the northeast’s busiest travel routes has been plagued by high prices and a lack of creativity. Our Boston-based business customers and anyone who has been forced to pay up or make the long drive will love this new option.” Read full article »
14 November 2016 | Recently, a growing number of online travel agents and airlines have partnered with third-party data providers TripAdvisor and Routehappy to help customers learn more about the quality of their flight.
By sharing candid details of the passenger experience airlines could move beyond commodity pricing and beyond competition solely on fares, instead giving customer fact-based metrics about their products which would justify a higher fare.
There is an important precedent for this change in consumer mindset in the hospitality sector. Today’s informed and savvy travellers are making their hotel choices based on ‘reputation pricing’ —the correlation between a brand’s online reputation and the premium it can charge. This shift from ‘sticker price’ bookings to bookings based on the quality of the experience has been one of the big positive effects of TripAdvisor on the hotel industry.
Rate My Flight
Social and digital frontrunner, KLM is taking transparency to the next level by sharing the feedback it gathers directly from passengers with customers who are looking to book a ticket with the airline.
After extensive experimentation, KLM started showing star ratings and reviews in the search flow of the KLM website in June of this year.
Customers searching for a flight can see the actual reviews from previous passengers who have flown that flight in the past, based on reviews collected from KLM passengers using the airline’s ‘Rate My Flight’ feature. Read full article »
THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED ON THE DESIGNAIR
26 October 2016 | Emirates has unveiled their newly renovated business class lounge in Dubai International Airport’s concourse 2 after two years of work. At a cost of USD 11m the newly renovated space includes three new dining and drinking experience areas.
The new offering is in addition to the seven other locations within the vast lounge with gourmet cuisine prepared by on-site chefs and a complimentary full bar service, which includes premium wine, spirits and champagne.
The new spaces are all prime examples of brand experiences that are opening in lounges around the world, such as Etihad and Six Senses, Qantas and Rockpool or Air France and Clarins. Emirates has recently partnered with Costa Coffee, Voss water and the long-lasting relationship with Moët Hennessy is now also reinforced in the lounge experiences as well as onboard.
In the new lounge Costa has brought a ‘Barista experience’ to the lounge around the clock, with flat whites, Italian coffee blends and signature pastries on offer to passengers needing a strong wake up mid-journey. Read full article »
Image by Andreas Spaeth
20 August 2016 | Aircraft manufacturers are creating new passenger-friendly cabin environments by re-thinking the fuselage structure and introducing more spacious cabins with larger windows and improved cabin pressurisation, among other innovations.
Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner and Airbus’ A350 cabins, as well as Airbus’ new AirSpace cabin exemplify this new design thinking for widebody aircraft. On narrowbody aircraft, Boeing’s SkyInterior cabin delivers cabin improvements, as does Zodiac Aerospace’s ISIS (Innovative Space Interior System) cabin featured on Delta’s A320-family aircraft.
Now these cabin improvements found on Boeing and Airbus aircraft are coming to regional aircraft with Bombardier’s new CSeries regional jet.
As Aviation Week put it nicely: “Aerospace is driven by innovation” is a timeworn slogan used by industry executives and enthusiasts. Yet there hasn’t been a clean-sheet aircraft in the single-aisle segment for 28 years. To an outsider, this would seem odd—particularly as single-aisles comprise 70 percent of mainline jetliner production. Bombardier corrected that anomaly this month when the C-Series entered service with Swiss. After flying in the C Series and digging deeper into its design and systems, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is bringing significant value-creating technology into the market.”
Larger windows, wider middle seat, mood lighting
The CSeries aircraft contains a high usage of composite materials, is quieter, features larger windows, and the cabin features large, rotating overhead storage bins, allowing each passenger to stow a sizeable carry-on bag overhead.
The combination of the bigger windows and the higher ceiling make this smaller single aisle aircraft feel more spacious, while mood lighting can brighten up the space even more. The aircraft also features two spacious lavatories. Read full article »
12 August 2016 | In the past two and a half years, Ryanair has been busy upgrading its products and services, stepping up its digital innovation activities, as well as opening routes to main airport hubs in an effort – called ‘Always Getting Better’ – to appeal more to business travellers.
“This is not a PR stunt,” said CEO Michael O’Leary at the launch of the initiative, describing the Always Getting Better programme as a “transformative” evolution and a “fundamental change” in the way both he and Ryanair do business. ‘”If I’d known being nice to customers would have been so good for business, I would have done it years ago.”
Rate My Flight
As part of the third phase of the program – which focuses on digital innovation – Ryanair earlier this year added a ‘Rate My Flight’ feature to its app. Passengers who want to rate their flight have to download the regular Ryanair app, allow for push notifications, and are send the survey through the app upon landing.
The Rate My Flight survey asks passengers to evaluate each element of their flight, from boarding through food and drink provision to crew helpfulness and overall service standards. Ryanair says it uses the feedback to tweet and improve its offerings as much in real time as possible.
The ‘Rate My Flight’ intiative was trialled in March and went live in May of this year. Ryanar has just published the first feedback results, based on more than 8,800 passengers who used the ‘Rate My Flight’ function during June and July.
More than half of respondents (53 percent) rated their overall experience as ‘very good’, 36 percent rated their experience as ‘OK’ and 11 percent rated it as ‘poor’. Crew friendliness received the highest positive rating, with 63 percent scoring this ‘very good’.
At the other end of the scale, boarding received the highest number of ‘poor’ responses, with 14 percent saying they were unhappy with the boarding process.
31 July 2016 | Airlines have long relied on awards and recognitions from industry watchers and major publications to reassure customers of the quality of their products and services, in very much the same way that professional critics and ratings firms have put their seal of approval on restaurants and hotels for decades.
But the rise of the internet has disrupted that ‘expert-review’ dynamic. The active participation of consumers on ratings sites which evaluate everything from films to books to consumer goods to services, and of course travel, suggests that today’s consumers trust popular opinion over ratings which could be perceived as an extension of marketing and advertising (a.k.a ‘the experience is the marketing’).
TripAdvisor is now looking to shake up the airline industry the same way it has hotels, by launching airline reviews. The sixteen year old travel review site has accrued over 350 million individual travel reviews covering 6.5 million hotels, restaurants and attractions and has now expanded its TripAdvisor Flights service to let customers grade and review airlines around the world in much the same way that they would review a night’s stay somewhere.
These reviews are then combined with an external rating of the amenities on a particular route, such as the type of seat offered and whether there are power ports and wi-fi available to flyers, to give it an overall ‘FlyScore’ which will rate the quality of an itinerary on a 1 to 10 scale.
Consumers can sort their flight search results by price, duration, the ‘FlyScore’, or a blend of factors categorised by TripAdvisor as “Best value of time and money.” TripAdvisor expects to refine the system, introducing further enhancements this year.
According to The Economist, “History suggests the firm has a good chance of making an eventual impact. If it does reach its potential, it might just encourage flyers to change their buying behaviour. If customers are willing to pay, say, $30 more for a seat rated as excellent compared with one that is terrible, then maybe airlines will pull out of their race to the bottom. A world in which carriers compete for the quality of the reviews they receive, as well as the price they offer, would be a better one.” Read full article »
By Marisa Garcia
7 July 2016 | The top 10 busiest air routes in the world are mostly business traveller-heavy short-haul routes. Think airport pairs such as Tokyo and Fukuoka, Sydney and Melbourne, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Toulouse and Paris, and Madrid and Barcelona.
The busiest air route in the USA is Chicago to New York with 4 million passengers in 2015, followed by Los Angeles to San Francisco (3.66 million) and Los Angeles to New York (3.4 million).
Airlines have responded to the needs of business travellers who frequently fly these trunk routes by offering high frequencies, introduce travel passes, and offer flexibility. For example, Vueling lets passengers rebook themselves on an earlier flight via their mobile app if there is a seat available.
While onboard service on short-haul routes is minimal on most carriers, Delta has reached back to the popularity of VIP shuttle services on Eastern Airlines and Pan Am by giving this profitable segment of frequent business travellers (a.k.a ‘air commuters’) extra services and privileges.
Delta Shuttle: Beyond frequencies
Delta Shuttle is the brand name for Delta’s hourly air shuttle service from NYC’s LaGuardia Airport to Boston Logan, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport near Washington, D.C., and Chicago O’Hare. The shuttle also now operates between Los Angeles International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and San Francisco International Airport and consists of a mix of two-class Embraer E-175 regional jets flown by a Delta Connection regional partner, and Delta mainline Boeing 717 and Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
The airlines’ shuttle frequencies are marketed toward business travelers with schedules that allow same-day return trips. Elite fliers and those with certain business-oriented fares can catch earlier or later flights with no fee if their schedules change.
By Marisa Garcia
8 June 2016 | United Airlines hopes to outshine competitors with a redefined international Business Class experience – called Polaris – named after the brightest star in our night sky.
United and London-based design firm PriestmanGoode have worked on the design and development of the Polaris service over the past three years, with the aim of re-branding and redefining United’s proposition to the profitable, high-revenue corporate client.
The entire experience is designed to reverse any impression passengers may have that United offers customers a run-of-the-mill product.
On the ground
The United Polaris ‘experience’ starts with dedicated Business Class lounges designed to harmonise with the passenger experience in the cabin.
Each exclusive Polaris lounge features a dining area serving both a buffet selection and a la carte meals, as well as a tended bar. The lounges follow a common design plan with the active areas near the entrance, followed by the bar and buffet, and ‘calmer’ zones further inside—including shower suites and daybed rest pods.
PriestmanGoode have also created a bespoke seat for the lounge – named the Quad chair – which mimics elements of the Polaris seat up in the air. This private seating concept in the lounge includes coat and bag storage, a pull-out table with integrated tablet holder, and AC/USB charging points for personal electronic devices.
The Polaris lounges will only be accessible to Business Class passengers, with no access granted to United Club members or even top-tier MileagePlus frequent flyers booked in Economy. The exclusivity of the lounge to the airline’s Business Class customers provides added value to the ticket, ensuring that those customers can be confident not to be disturbed by crowds of frequent flyers claiming their mileage perks. Read full article »
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
1 June 2016 | As part of a trend that sees airlines and airports welcome real-time feedback from passengers via digital channels other than social media, Sri Lanka’s national carrier, SriLankan Airlines has launched a comprehensive customer satisfaction platform which captures feedback from passengers throughout the journey, from booking to overall satisfaction measures after the return home.
The airline has set up various ways for customers to share their impressions of service quality at its Colombo Ticket Office service counters, on its website, at the check-in counters at Colombo Airport, inside its lounge at the airport – as well as on-board through a dedicated application on iPads issued to cabin service managers.
There is also a survey app incorporated into the airline’s IFE system, plus a feedback module incorporated in SriLankan’s mobile app. Once the journey has ended, customers also receive an email request to evaluate their journey. All surveys are available in five languages: English, Sinhala, Tamil, Chinese and Japanese.
The passenger feedback which was initially gathered through a paper-based system has evolved gradually and the airline has now developed a full-fledged system where they could amass the treasured thoughts of passengers via digital media. Feedback data combines a full set of passenger profiles such as name, gender, ethnicity, travel preferences and their service aspirations with flight information into a data warehouse which further enables SriLankan to create a rich set of analytics, identify trends and strengthen customer relationships.
“Today we are serving an informed, tech savvy, demanding customer. We understand the service expectation can be delivered by working smart. We recognise that technology can bring the speed and sophistication to serve today’s customer,” says Mr Chanaka Olagama, Head of Cabin Services, SriLankan Airlines.
To ensure prompt responsiveness to service interruptions and critical issues which affect passenger satisfaction, real time alerts for immediate service recovery or negative feedback from passengers are sent to the supervisor of each customer touch point via text messages.
Additionally, live dashboards display the overall mood of customers through color-coded cards which reflect passenger satisfaction ratings, based on feedback received. Read full article »
18 March 2016 | Expectations of airline passengers are not only shaped by how well an airline performs versus its direct competitors. They are also fuelled by standards set by experiences that consumers have in other industries, as innovative products and services in one industry raise the bar for all industries. This means airlines and airports need to tune into the customer from a holistic perspective when designing the passenger experience.
At this year’s Passenger Experience Conference – which is part of the annual Aircraft Interiors Expo/WTCE in Hamburg – AirlineTrends delivered a presentation about ‘Digital Innovation and the End-to-End Passenger Experience’. Below is the outline of our talk, illustrated by a few examples of how airlines are tapping into the changing consumer behaviour and expectations of today’s connected travellers.
As smartphones make it quick and hassle-free to order goods online, flag a taxi via Uber, or what have you, the on-demand economy has generated a sense of entitlement to fast, simple and efficient experiences as it taps into consumers’ appetite for greater convenience, speed, and simplicity. For example, analysis from Uber shows the longer Uber has been in a city, the less willing to wait for a car everyone becomes.
In the food and beverage industry, Starbucks’ new pre-order app has become a very popular time-saving service, while airport restaurateur OTG has installed thousands of food-ordering iPads at half a dozen U.S. airports.
And a growing number of airlines – including Virgin America, Air New Zealand, Japan Airlines, Norwegian, Azul – allow passengers to order meals, snacks and drinks via the in-seat IFE system in between regular meal services, while Qantas and EVA Air offer passengers the option to purchase duty free via the Panasonic eX3 IFE systems. Passengers onboard leisure carrier TUI Netherlands can even order drinks and duty free via their own smartphones. Read full article »
Panasonic’s Waterfront concept suite lets passengers customize their inflight experience with their smartphone
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
8 February 2016 | In a time when the personal device (smartphone, tablet) is becoming the digital controller of just about every surrounding device (think Sonos, Google Chromecast, or Philips Hue), Panasonic’s new Waterfront concept seat – unveiled at last month’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas – demonstrates ‘the art of possible’ when the personal devices gets integrated with the aircraft seat.
The Waterfront seat is the result of a partnership between Panasonic, B/E Aerospace, Formation Design Group and TEAGUE and follows last year’s JAZZ IFE/seat Economy concept.
According to Panasonic, the objective with the new seat is to “take care of a passenger’s wellbeing in a more holistic way.” Using B/E Aerospace’s Super Diamond seat as platform, the Waterfront seat features a full privacy door, which “gives a First-Class feel within the confines of a Business Class footprint,” as RGN puts it.
Other features of the Waterfront include customizable LED lighting (the interface has been coupled to hundreds of individually controllable full spectrum LEDs across the entire seat) and climate controls that adjust the temperature in the suite. Passengers can recharge their devices using one of the AC and USB ports or just place it on a wireless inductive charging panel.
Personal device as remote controller
The centerpiece of the Waterfront suite though is a 24-inch high-definition 4K touchscreen monitor placed in a seamless edge-to-edge glass structure, which can connect to a passenger’s smartphone app.
According to Australian Business Traveler passengers will be able to control the in-flight entertainment system AND the suite’s environment from their phone or from a supplied 7″ tablet.
The integration of the personal device and the Waterfront tech system is done via a technology called ‘light ID’, which has been developed by Panasonic and which uses a LED as the light source so that smartphones can read optical ID signals containing various kinds of information. According to Panasonic, the airline would provide the wireles controller application for passengers to download. Read full article »
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
2 February 2016 | SWISS just took delivery of its first new B777-300ER aircraft. One of the things we like about SWISS’ new flagship interior is the creative touch that the airline and design agency Priestmangoode have added to the galley areas.
On most widebody aircraft, the first impressions passengers get when entering the aircraft at the so-called ‘door 2’ is the sight of an industrial-looking galley area. In an effort to create a more welcoming environment, a growing number of airlines are adding design touches to this door 2 area.
As aviation journalist Marisa Garcia from FlightChic puts it: “Of course, airlines still buy the generic and utilitarian galleys, but the trend is towards cabin monuments serving a second life as welcome zones or customer social areas, at least for wide-body aircraft. Beyond looking pretty, putting this functional space to work as an element of the passenger experience is smart design thinking.”
Recent examples include Finnair, which for its new A350s has come up with a clever (and economic) solution by installing galley screens that are lowered when passengers are boarding and which feature a striking photo of Finland’s nature.
On the other end, Etihad has gone all out with the creation of a ‘welcome lobby’ on its A380s, which features dark wood fretwork panels, screens and doors and recreates the feeling of entering a boutique hotel.
SWISS, meanwhile has added rollable screens that cover the working areas in the galley and the galley walls feature an illuminated welcome panel, as well as an illuminated world map in an oak wood finish. According to the airline it has treated the entrance to its new B777-300ER “like a reception with a welcoming entrance that that mirrors that in the reception of the SWISS lounges at Zurich airport.” Read full article »