PASSENGER EXPERIENCE

8 interesting airline product and service innovations for 2015 so far

Best airline innovations 1H2015_680x337

At airlinetrends.com we continuously monitor the global aviation industry for product and service innovations launched by airlines in response to cultural, technological, and economic changes that influence airline customers’ needs and expectations.

The product and service innovations we have selected to be among the most innovative concepts that have been launched in the first half of this year reflect how airlines are becoming more creative in the design of new products and services as more airlines are embrading hospitality, design and technology as ways to differentiate the passenger experience.

8 INTERESTING AIRLINE INNOVATIONS FOR 2015 SO FAR

1. Bring Your Own Wi-Fi » Airlines deploy portable wireless networks

Estonian Air, Transavia and Arkefly are the first airlines to deploy the AirFi box – a compact, portable, battery-powered wi-fi solution that can be stowed inside a luggage locker and requires no modification to the aircraft, and hence no certification. Read article »

2. China Eastern trials ‘intelligent personal assistant’ for in-flight service

China Eastern has launched an airline-specific version of Microsoft’s ‘XiaoIce’ – an intelligent personal assistant – which on Wi-Fi equipped aircraft allows passengers to socialize with other passengers, contact the crew (who are equipped with tablets) and send post-arrival pick-up reminders to people on the ground. Read article »

3. HK Express lets passengers make contactless in-flight payments with their mass transit smart card

In many Asian countries, prepaid rechargeable contactless payment cards are a common phenomenon. Now, two airlines in Asia are allowing passengers to make in-flight payments with those same smart cards they use to make everyday payments on the ground. Read article »

4. Air New Zealand lets lounge guests order their favourite coffee via their smartphone

Besides featuring barista’s who make freshly brewed coffee to passenger’s preferences in its ‘Koru’ lounges, Air New Zealand now lets flyers order barista-made coffee via its smartphone app the minute they walk into one of the airline’s Koru Clubs around New Zealand. Read article »

5. SAS’ new A330 Business Class features Hästens bedding and a snack bar

Following years of restructuring, SAS has introduced its first refurbished A330 aircraft. Similar to Aer Lingus’ new A330 Business Class, SAS’ new premium cabin shows how carriers with a relatively limited long-haul network can respond to the passenger experience standards set by airlines from the Gulf and Asia. Read article »

6. Air Astana introduces ‘Economy Sleeper Class’

Recently, several airlines have picked up Air NZ’s Skycouch concept. While China Airlines introduced its ‘Family Couch’ and Azul introduced the ‘Sky Sofa’, Air Astana has become the latest carrier to introduce a slightly different ‘Economy Sleeper Class’. Read article »

7. Delta’s ‘Early Valet’ service preloads passengers’ hand-luggage to speed up boarding

In an effort to take some of the stress out of the boarding process and reduce expensive delays before take-off, many airlines have been looking for alternative procedures to optimize boarding. Now Delta Air Lines is trying something new: Preloading carry-on bags into the overhead bins before the passengers embark the aircraft. Read article »

8. Dutch LCC Transavia first airline to use WhatsApp messaging for customer care

The airline industry is one of the leading sectors in deploying Twitter and Facebook for customer care, while in China many local and foreign carriers are present on Sina Weibo and WeChat. Now Dutch LCC Transavia has become the first airline to integrate WhatsApp into its webcare channels. Read article »

AIX 2015 » Density and distraction drive new aircraft interiors trends

Best of AIX2015_680x400

By Marisa Garcia, Flight Chic

Rapidly evolving alternatives to traditional inflight entertainment systems, smarter seat designs and a redefined premium cabin were top themes at this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo 2015 in Hamburg, the aircraft cabin show of shows.

Airlines are eager to make the most of potential revenue space on their planes, while air travelers dread crowded cabins. To resolve this tension, airlines need to draw attention away from the pain of the cabin crunch—especially in Economy.

Technology now takes centre stage in Hamburg as inflight connectivity and entertainment offer passengers productivity, emotional comfort, or at least distraction. This technology is a major capital investment, but vendors are introducing solutions which make these IFE technologies more affordable—even a potential source of revenue and a way to optimize operations.

Connectivity
As airlines step-up the rollout of in-flight connectivity, Panasonic Avionics Corporation celebrated the 700th installation of its eXConnect in-flight Wi-Fi system at the show. The company provides a suite of options which combine in-seat entertainment with global coverage of Ku-band satellite broadband Wi-Fi and 3G services for internet, text and telephony through AeroMobile.

Panasonic also announced that Asia’s largest airline, China Southern, chose its hybrid eXO IFE solution for its narrowbody fleet of A320s and A321s. The eXO system lets airlines mix and match Full HD overhead video and in-seat audio, seat-back Audio-Video On Demand (AVOD), and wireless streaming to passenger devices. This flexibility lets airlines configure entertainment on the aircraft by sections, to suit their product strategy. It lowers costs, reduces weight, and allows easy upgrades when airlines chose to update cabins.

Wireless in-flight entertainment (wIFE) has proven successful where installing embedded in-flight entertainment is impractical. It can also complement existing embedded IFE systems.

Gate-to-gate usage of in-seat tablets
Lufthansa Systems’ BoardConnect solution offers a rich user interface for entertainment and connectivity directly streamed to passengers’ personal electronic devices. The company has developed an in-seat product which fits consumer tablets on a frame added to the seat-back.
Read full article »

airlinetrends.com and LIFT help airlines take a 360° look at the passenger experience

airlinetrends x LIFT_PAXEX360 workshop_680x370

airlinetrends.com founder Raymond Kollau and LIFT Strategic Design founder Daniel Baron will be present at the upcoming Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg from 13 to 15 April. Please contact Raymond at info [at] airlinetrends [dot] com if you would like to meet, or download our PAXEX360 workshop brochure.

airlinetrends.com and LIFT Strategic Design launch PAXEX360 workshops

Fierce competition, rapid evolution of technology, shorter product life cycles, and ever evolving customer expectations are forcing airlines to take a 360º view of the passenger experience in order to differentiate themselves, whether they are a full-service, hybrid or low-cost carrier.

airlinetrends.com (Amsterdam) and LIFT Strategic Design (Tokyo) have joined forces to provide airlines with on-site PAXEX360 workshop sessions that explore trends in the airline passenger experience, followed by interactive discussions where key staff identify priorities for future product, service and brand development.

FROM TRENDS TO PRODUCT AND SERVICE INNOVATION
This partnership provides airlines with a service that combines an understanding of the big ‘PAXEX’ picture with expertise in creating design solutions and thinking through the implications.

The PAXEX360 workshops provide participants with:
– a better insight into consumer/passenger trends and needs
– a quick way to understand the latest product and service industry standards and innovations
– an effective platform for identifying key strategic objectives and priorities in further developing the passenger experience

Combining airlinetrends.com’s expertise in passenger experience research with LIFT Strategic Design’s expertise in concept development and implementation, the PAXEX360 workshops consist of two elements:

1. OVERVIEW OF THE LATEST TRENDS AND INNOVATIONS » Who is doing what, where, and why?
This session familiarizes airline management with passenger experience trends throughout the world in every phase of the customer journey – from design and technology to marketing and service delivery – and is illustrated with many recent innovations from airlines around the world.

2. IN-DEPTH INTERACTIVE DISCUSSION » Where do we go from here?
Faciltated by LIFT Strategic Design founder Daniel Baron and airlinetrends.com founder Raymond Kollau, key representatives from your company explore customer experience development in the context of the trends discussed, identifying target areas for future action. Read full article »

Our newsletter is read by aviation professionals from:sign up now »

SAS’ new A330 Business Class features Hästens bedding and a snack bar

SAS_newBusinessClass_Hastens_a680x264

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

As cabin interior upgrade cycles are becoming shorter, airlines around the world are working hard to keep up with this ‘arms race’ by introducing bigger and better premium seats, as well as smarter and lighter designs in Economy.

At the same time airlines are coming up with creative ways to improve the ‘softer’ service elements of the inflight experience. For example, as full-flat beds have now become the industry standard in Business Class, airlines are looking for ways to differentiate the premium passenger experience by ‘dreaming up’ service touches that improve the chance passengers can enjoy a good night of sleep onboard.

Examples include Virgin Atlantic’s Snooze Zone and Delta’s partnership with Westin Hotels. Qantas, meanwhile, has introduced what it calls ‘Business Suites’ on its A330s that let passengers recline from the moment they board until touchdown at their destination.

SAS A330 Business Class
Following years of restructuring in order to create a competitive cost platform, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has recently introduced its first refurbished A330 aircraft. Similar to Aer Lingus’ new A330 Business Class – which offers passengers a well thought-out combination of product and service innovations – SAS’ new premium cabin shows how carriers with a relatively limited long-haul network can respond to the passenger experience standards set by airlines from the Gulf and Asia.

SAS’ new business class cabin features Thomson’s Vantage XL seats – which have currently only been installed by one other airline, Qantas. Designed by UK-based FactoryDesign, the seats are a modern interpretation of Scandinavian design, including metallic edging, gold accents and electric blue in-seat lighting.

As Jonny Clark from TheDesignair puts it nicely: “With touch points of wooden veneer, dark charcoal fabrics with topstitching and electric blue details, the designers have gone for a mix of business elegance with contemporary cool.” Read full article »

SAS to open ‘Café Lounges’ at gate areas at Scandinavian airports

SAS_Cafe Lounge_680x372

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

While passengers travelling in Business and First and upper-tier members of frequent flyer programs can wait for their flight in the comfort of the airline lounge, Business Class passengers still have to wait with the ‘hoi polloi’ at the gate before boarding the aircraft via a fast lane (ideally). First Class passengers often have a transfer to the aircraft from the lounge in a private car, or are escorted onboard directly.

SAS ‘Café Lounge’
To improve waiting time at the gate for premium passengers, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has announced it will open a new Café Lounge concept at Trondheim and Tromsø regional airports in Norway this spring.

The SAS Café Lounges at the gate will complement existing SAS lounges at these airport and can be used by the airline’s ‘Plus Class’ passengers, Business Class passengers travelling with Star Alliance airlines and Gold and Diamond members of SAS’ EuroBonus loyalty program.

SAS says it aims to provide passengers with a dedicated, relaxing and working environment close to the departure gate and offer WiFi internet access, tea, coffee and pastries. They are designed so that business travellers can work right up until boarding the aircraft.

Says Eivind Roald, EVP Commercial at SAS, “Our most frequent flyers appreciate time saving services such as Fast Track, which is why we are now offering an additional service designed especially for them. Fast flows are important on our domestic market and customers can work effectively in our Café Lounges located close to the gate.”

The SAS Cafe Lounge at Trondheim airport is scheduled to open in April and the facility at Tromso airport in May. Later this year, the airline will open further SAS Cafe Lounges at other Scandinavian airports.
Read full article »

Best airline product and service innovations of 2014

Best airline innovations 2014_680x272

At airlinetrends.com we continuously monitor the global aviation industry for product and service innovations launched by airlines in response to cultural, technological, and economic changes that influence airline customers’ needs and expectations.

The top 10 product and service innovations we have selected this year reflect how airlines are becoming bolder in the design of new products and services as more airlines are embrading hospitality, design and technology as ways to differentiate the passenger experience.

THE AIRLINETRENDS.COM TOP 10 FOR 2014

1. China Airlines to feature ‘Sky Lounge’ and ‘Family Couch’ on new B777-300ERs

Taiwan’s flag carrier China Airlines is transforming its products and services with the airline’s new Boeing 777-300ER becoming the airline’s flagship aircraft to showcase innovations such as a ‘Sky Lounge’ in Business and ‘Family Couches’ in Economy. Read article »

2. Aer Lingus’ new Business Class ticks many passenger experience ‘boxes’

Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus’ new Business Class cabin in our opinion ticks many boxes of what the Business Class experience should look like in the coming years, as the airline has come up with a very well thought-out combination of product and service design. Read article »

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

Etihad has unveiled the world’s first private multi-room cabin on a commercial passenger aircraft. Called ‘The Residence’, the ‘über premium’ space will feature a living room, double bedroom, and a separate ensuite shower room, while passengers will be served by a dedicated butler. Read article »

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

Hidden inside the press storm caused by Etihad’s luxurious new A380 comes a smart design innovation of the airline’s new Economy seats. Etihad’s so-called ‘Economy Smart Seats’ feature a ‘fixed wing’ headrest, designed to provide a firm surface for passengers to lean on while sleeping. Read article »

5. Qantas new A330 Business Suite to offer ‘gate-to-gate’ recline

With the aim to provide frequent flyers in Business Class with the maximum amount of sleep, Qantas is introducing Business Class seats on its A330s that let passengers recline from the moment they board until touchdown at their destination. Read article » Read full article »

Qantas new A330 Business Suite to offer ‘gate-to-gate’ recline

Qantas_A330_Business Suite_recline_b680x291Images courtesy Australian Business Traveller

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

In the past years airlines around the world have been busy installing seats in Business Class that can be turned into fully flat beds, making ‘full flat’ the industry standard. In an effort to further differentiate their premium product, airlines are increasingly coming up with creative ways to improve the ‘softer’ service elements of the inflight experience. Examples include Virgin Atlantic’s Snooze Zone, Delta’s partnership with Westin and Aer Lingus’ new Business Class which offers passengers a well thought-out combination of product and service innovations.

Gate-to-gate recline
In an effort to provide frequent flyers in Business Class with the maximum amount of sleep, Qantas is introducing Business Class seats on its A330s that let passengers recline from the moment they board until touchdown at their destination. The innovation, for which Qantas is awaiting regulatory approval, could let passengers get more than seven hours of shuteye on an Australia to Southeast Asia trip.

As aircraft seats are traditionally locked upright during take-off and landing, when most accidents happen, the innovation would allow Qantas to offer the world’s first seats that let passengers recline in their seat from take-off through to landing.

Key to the break-through product’s safety is an over-the-shoulder belt — much like a car seatbelt — that connects with the usual around-the-waist belt to provide extra restraint during takeoff and landing.

The seats won’t be able to recline less than 25 degrees from the horizontal on international flights and 21 degrees domestically. That’s sufficient to allow the shoulder belt to work, withstanding the 16G forces that can be exerted in a survivable accident. The berths can be switched to fully-flat mode once the plane is in level flight. Read full article »

Virgin Atlantic’s ‘Wander Wall’ invites passengers to hang out in the galley

VS_B787_Wander Wall_b680x390

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

In order to make as much as possible of the limited ‘real estate’ onboard their aircraft, airlines such as British Airways (‘Club Kitchen’), American Airlines (‘Lobby Bar’), Japan Airlines’ (‘Sky Gallery’) and China Airlines (‘Sky Lounge’) have been reimagining how the galley area of the premium cabin could become the domain of passengers as well after regular service is over.

Virgin Atlantic ‘Wander Wall’
On a similar note, Virgin Atlantic – which is also known for its signature Upper Class onboard bar (one of the very few airlines to actually install a bar on aircraft that are not an A380) – has come up with an inventive concept on its new B787 Dreamliner that is called the ‘Wander Wall’.

While the sit-up bar is for Business Class passengers only, those in Premium Economy on the airline’s B787 are encouraged to stretch their legs and come over to the ‘Wander Wall’ and mingle with other passengers and crew.

The ‘Wander Wall’ is located in the front galley, just behind the Upper Class bar, and is a bulkhead area where Premium Economy fliers can “wander to” and help themselves to snacks, drinks and newspapers. “It creates a space where customers can get out of their seats and stretch their legs,” CEO Craig Kreeger told USA Today. “It gives them a destination, someplace they can walk to that’s not the bathroom.”

Developed to reflect the design of the Upper Class bar, the social space offers a mini fridge, water fountain and a self-serve area where passengers can help themselves to snacks and refreshments.

Reuben Arnold, director of brand and customer experience told Business Traveller: “The Wonderwall [in the galley] is a great place to stretch your legs and socialise. On day flights there will be snacks and drinks here, there is a fridge and a water fountain; on evening flights, there will be things like chamomile tea and hot chocolate with marshmallows. It gives a reason for people to want to go there and leave their seat.”

Our newsletter is read by aviation professionals from:sign up now »

Aer Lingus’ new Business Class ticks many product and service innovation boxes

Aer Lingus_new Business Class_b680x381

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, as well as smarter and lighter designs in Economy. At the same time airlines are coming up with creative ways to improve the ‘softer’ service elements of the inflight experience, ideally taking a holistic approach to design a branded passenger experience.

Irish ‘value carrier’ Aer Lingus recently announced details of its new 32-seat Business Class cabin, which in our opinion ticks many boxes of what the Business Class experience should look like in the coming years, as the airline has come up with a very well thought-out combination of product and service innovations. Or as Irish newspaper The Independent put it: “Is Aer Lingus’s hot new cabin a business ‘class’, ‘service’ or ‘experience’?”

Examples include pre-flight dinner in the airline’s JFK and Boston lounges for passengers who want to maximize their sleep onboard, free wifi and ample stowage space for personal devices, the provision of dinner on demand onboard, tapping into Aer Lingus Irish heritage with items such as locally sourced food and the amenity kit cosmetics, and providing pre-flight clearance of US customs and immigration on flights leaving Dublin and Shannon.

Sleep, work, dine, relax
The seats, manufactured by fellow Irish company Thompson Aero, have been customized by Factorydesign who are also responsible for the new Thompson Vantage-based ‘Mint’ Business Class on JetBlue’s new subfleet of transcontinental A321s.

Aer Lingus new Business Class seat transforms into a fully-flat 6’6” (2 metres) bed, which is one of the longest in the industry, with a seat width of 22”. The staggered layout offers direct aisle access to 90 percent of Business Class passengers except those with a window seat in the first row. Irish supplier Botany Weaving has provided the fabrics for the Business Class cabin such as seat covers, carpets and curtains, with the fibres designed to reflect Ireland’s weaving heritage. A video of the new Aer Lingus Business Class cabin here.

Aer Lingus will introduce its new Business Class on its seven A330 aircraft from March 2015, and what makes the airline’s new premium passenger experience of interest is that Aer Lingus aimed to come up with product and services that design for multiple uses of one space based on a passenger’s needs, depending on whether they wish to sleep, work, dine or relax. Read full article »

See airlinetrends.com LIVE at FTE Asia, Kuala Lumpur 1-3 Dec

airlinetrends x FTEAsia_680x303

Besides reporting on the latest passenger experience trends and product & service innovations, airlinetrends.com also frequently provides in-house ‘trends & innovations’ sessions at airlines and suppliers to the airline industry.

For those who would like to experience an airlinetrends.com session «live», we have partnered with Future Travel Experience Asia – which will take place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on December 1-3 – to provide two working sessions as part of the Up In The Air conference stream.

line

(1) “STRATEGIES FOR DELIVERING EVEN BETTER PASSENGER EXPERIENCES” – Unconference Session
MONDAY DECEMBER 1ST » 15.30 – 16.30  

In this interactive session facilitators Raymond Kollau, Founder airlinetrends.com and Daniel Baron, Founder LIFT Strategic Design will first give a presentation about key consumer and passengers trends.

Then, in an “unconference” discussion, participants will discuss together all angles of passenger experience development and the challenges they face in product, service delivery and brand. Participants will gain insight into trends plus strategies for more effective concept development and implementation, in the context of their corporate goals. Learn more » 

line

(2) TRENDS AND INNOVATIONS SHAPING TODAY’S ONBOARD PASSENGER EXPERIENCE
TUESDAY DECEMBER 2ND » 09.45 – 10.45

How airlines are responding to consumer trends and technology with innovative products and service in order to differentiate the passenger experience.      

This fast-paced trend session, led by airlinetrends.com founder Raymond Kollau, follows the so-called customer journey and combines the main macro, industry and consumer trends shaping the airline industry today with dozens of the latest airline product and service innovations and links them to the various elements of the onboard passenger experience: cabin, seats, IFE, catering, amenities, hospitality, etc. Learn more » Read full article »

The Past, Present, and Future of Business Class seat design

Business Class_configurations_680x415

This article originally appeared on TheDesignAir

By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

So it isn’t often we think ourselves as that awkward L-shaped brick from classic computer game Tetris, but fundamentally that’s how aircraft seat designers see us. Unfortunately-shaped wedges that have to fit neatly into a rectangular shape.

In a constant fight to give airline passengers more space, more comfort and a better quality experience, the war of the seat configuration continues. British Airways’ latest patent application shows that perhaps the ideal future of front of the plane comfort isn’t as clearly cut as we once thought.

The Past
Originally, in 1999 British Airways brought the flat bed concept to the skies with it’s Club World seat. Seen as a quantum leap in Business Class comfort, with space only considered for the super wealthy, who could afford First Class opulence. Since then many carriers have offered similar comfort, but the forward and backward concept took into consideration the ergonomics of the body, offering more space to the wider upper body. This was done by creating interconnecting forward-backward seats that operated as a singular unit, reducing seat costs and increasing space where it was needed – around the shoulders.

The original club world seat was then fairly quickly redesigned, to what we see on BA’s fleet today. The modern seats offer more privacy, more space, and more technological advancement. But the seat concept is sound, even the older seats can still be found on BA’s subsidiary OpenSkies 757 fleet now titled ‘Biz Bed’.

The forward backward concept was new, and whilst open to initial scepticism, proved a success, and was quickly admired by business travellers, who enjoyed the extra comfort, for little extra price, due to the LOPA (the seat’s real estate on the plane) being hardly compromised compared to the big bucket recliners that the rest of the industry enjoyed. Read full article »

10 interesting airline product and service innovations launched in 2014 so far

Best airline product and service innovations of 2014 so far_680x272

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

At airlinetrends.com we continuously monitor the global aviation industry for product and service innovations launched by airlines in response to cultural, technological, and economic changes that influence airline customers’ needs and expectations.

The product and service innovations that we report on our website aim to show how airlines can come up with creative solutions with the aim to improve the passenger experience, increase revenues and/or lower costs.

For those who have been too busy to keep track of the latest airline product and service innovations, here the 10 articles that we believe are among the most interesting product and service introductions in the first six months of 2014.

10 product and service innovations first half 2014

1. Air France-KLM’s ‘e-tag & e-track’ turn suitcases into connected devices

Air France, KLM and partners have developed a novel electronic bag tag and baggage tracker that enables passengers to label their luggage at home, drop bags at the fast bag drop and trace their luggage in real-time. The service will be introduced at the end of 2014. Read article »

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

Hidden inside the press storm caused by Etihad’s announcement of its luxurious new A380 comes a smart design innovation of the airline’s new Economy seats. Etihad’s so-called ‘Economy Smart Seats’ feature a ‘fixed wing’ headrest, designed to provide a firm surface for passengers to lean on while sleeping. Read article »

3. Virgin Atlantic launches Google Glass and Sony Smartwatch ‘wearable tech’ trial

Virgin Atlantic has started a six-week trial together with airline IT provider SITA to learn how wearable technologies such as Google Glass and Sony Smartwatch could improve the passenger experience and speed up the check-in process at its London Heathrow lounge. Read article »

4. Chinese low-cost carrier Spring Airlines first to equip cabin crew with Google Glass

Following an earlier initiative by Virgin Atlantic to trial Google’s wearabla smart glass, Chinese LCC Spring Airlines has equipped flight attendants with Google Glasses on a flight from Shanghai to Chengdu, becoming the world’s first airline to deploy the device inside the cabin. Read article »

5. Iberia and airberlin latest carriers to develop smartwatch boarding pass

Airlines are teaming with consumer electronics firms to trial the latest wearable tech. Following the recent launch by Vueling and Sony of the first smartwatch-based boarding pass, Iberia and airberlin have announced their own initiatives, partnering with Samsung and Pebble respectively. Read article »

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

Philippine Airlines is the launch customer of Sogerma’s new Equinox 3D seat, which decrease the default pitch in a full-flat Business Class seat by raising one seat above the other when moving to the bed position. PAL is also the first full-service carrier to remove all IFE screens from its A330 widebodies, including those in Business Class, offering passengers wireless-only IFE&C instead. Read article »

7. India’s low-cost carriers get creative with their buy-on-board food packaging

Along with basic objectives such as protection and preservation, clever food packaging appeals to consumers’ emotions and brings a product alive. Two great examples of attractive and fun packaging can be found in India, where low-cost carriers JetKonnect and IndiGo have come up with quirky buy-on-board ranges. Read article »

8. Servair chefs make a weekly ‘surprise’ appearance onboard an Air France flight

Air France and its catering subsidiary Servair have launched a new initiative which sees a Servair chef boarding a long-haul Air France flight once a week in order to add a culinary touch to the inflight experience, gather direct feedback on the menus served, and train cabin crew on the spot. Read article »

9. China Airlines unveils ‘Family Couches’ on its upcoming B777-300ERs

Taiwan-based China Airlines is the second airline to install Air New Zealand’s innovative Skycouch. Renamed as Family Couch, China Airlines will install the seats – which can be turned into a small bed – in ten rows on the right-hand side of its Economy Class. Read article »

10. Delta upgrades cabin crew from Nokia smartphones to connected ‘phablets’

Following the provision of Nokia Lumia 820 smartphones to its entire crew last year, Delta will replace the devices with with larger Nokia Lumia 1520 ‘phablets’ later this year, saying the new devices are meant to serve as a platform for future, more personalized in-flight customer service. Read article »

Innovation is the Marketing » BA high-tech neuro blanket tracks passenger’s emotions

BA Happiness Blanket_a680x439

This trend appears in the upcoming edition of our 2014 The State of Airline Marketing, a free annual report published by airlinetrends.com and Simpliflying that identifies the latest trends in airline marketing and communication. Download the free report here »

Unlike investments in new aircraft, cabin interiors and seats, innovations in services in order to improve the passenger experience do not have to have large financial consequences.

It basically comes down to creative ideas, and the current revolution in social media and personal digital devices allows forward-looking airlines to come up with new services that — even though not all of them will be a great commercial success — will contribute to the airline’s brand by creating buzz and a sense that the airline is trying to improve the experience.

BA’s ‘Happiness Blanket’
In an effort to gain more insights into – as well as promote – its onboard products and services, British Airways has conducted an experiment at 30,000ft to find out more about how passengers sleep and rest in the air, in order to help shape services such as timing of meals, types of films shows and seat positions.

The airline asked passengers located in different cabins to cover themselves under a so-called ‘Happiness Blanket’, which is woven with fibre optics, uses neuro-sensors to measure a person’s brainwaves and ‘meditative state’, and which changes colour – from red to blue – to show when they are at their most relaxed.

Additionally, a special headband – the MyndPlay BrainBand – has been used to measure a person’s meditative state on a scale of one to 100. This is then relayed via Bluetooth to LED lights woven into the blanket.

When the number is low it will turn red or when it is near the 100 mark it will turn blue. As well as detecting brainwave activity, it can also monitor a user’s level of concentration and relaxation.

Behavioral response
British Airways will analyze the data from the blankets to make the in-flight experience better. The color patterns will give an idea to the crew on the behavioral response of the passengers to in-flight services such as the timing of meals, the menu, and the movie options. Read full article »

Four airlines to receive their first A380 superjumbo in 2014

First A380 deliveries 2014_680x371

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.
Read full article »

Best airline product and service innovations of 2013

Top 10 airline innovations 2013_a680x272

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

At airlinetrends.com we continuously monitor the global aviation industry for product and service innovations launched by airlines in response to cultural, technological, and economic changes that influence airline customers’ needs and expectations.

Major themes
Besides working hard getting the basics of the passenger experience right – e.g, on-time departure and arrival, better cabin and seat comfort, quality catering and up-to-date IFE, and a friendly crew who understand the basics of onboard hospitality – many of the major themes that are on top of airlines’ passenger experience agenda today contain a digital component, such as:

– Providing ‘me-centric passengers’ with more choice and control of their travel experience;
– Enabling ground staff and cabin crew to offer a more personalized service;
– Responding to customer feedback and closing the customer service loop, in (near) real-time;
– Adopting a retail mindset and obtaining better merchandizing skills;
Keeping pace with the rapid developments in consumer electronics and connectivity.

The top 10 product and service innovations that we have selected this year aim to show how airlines can come up with creative solutions based on the interplay between technological, social and economical changes, with the aim to improve the passenger experience, increase revenues and/or lower costs.

Many of the examples on our list contain a major digital component, as the rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets (which has grown faster than any other consumer technology in history), the possibility to be connected anywhere and anytime, and the self-service mindset of connected travellers, has created a huge momentum for airlines to come up with innovative products and services.

THE AIRLINETRENDS.COM TOP 10

1. Airlines let flyers download content to their personal device before the flight

Responding to the large number of passengers bringing their own device onboard, airlines are stepping up the rollout of inflight Wi-Fi and wireless IFE portals. The latest development also sees airlines provide flyers access to IFE content before their flight takes off via dedicated apps or via the airline lounge wi-fi network. Read article »

2. airBaltic lets passengers customize their buy-on-board meal

AirBaltic’s has launched a novel food ordering system that allows customers to customize their buy-on-board meal. Passengers who pre-order their meal can choose from 70 different meal options and virtually ‘drag and drop’ their preferred meal items onto a digital airline tray, and have their customized meal served to them onboard. Read article »

3. British Airways to trial electronic baggage tag

British Airways is testing an electronic baggage tag which removes the need for a new paper tag each time a traveller flies. Passengers can update the digital suitcase tag to display their flight information by holding their smartphone over the tag after they have checked in. Read article »

4. Norwegian’s new Dreamliner features geotainment and in-seat ordering of F&B

Norwegian, Europe’s 3rd largest LCC, has started flying long-haul low-cost using a fleet of Boeing 787s. The airline’s Dreamliners are the first aircraft to feature Panasonic’s new Android-powered in-seat IFE system. Select Android apps that have been pre-loaded onto the system include a geotainment flight map and in-seat ordering of food and drinks. Read article »

5. Delta provides cabin crew with Nokia Lumia ‘onboard retail’ smartphones

Following an earlier initiative from American Airlines, which has equipped its cabin crew with Samsung handhelds, Delta has provided 19,000 flight attendants with Windows Phone 8-based Nokia Lumia 820 smartphones to be used as a next-generation onboard service and point-of-sale device. Read article »

6. Air Canada’s new LCC ‘rouge’ teams with Disney for customer service training

Air Canada’s new discount airline, Rouge, has called in Disney to help train its flight attendants. The airline says it looked at several top customer service providers, with Disney being the most comprehensive and in line with Rouge’s objective to create a very different and service-focused culture. Read article »

7. Airlines encourage passengers to provide service feedback via apps and cards

Social media has provided passengers with a powerful platform to voice their opinion on the experience they have with airlines. Besides (pro-actively) getting in touch with passengers via Twitter or Facebook, several airlines have also started to encourage passengers to provide instant feedback via mobile apps and – in a low tech way – via paper cards. Read article »

8. Delta teams up with Westin Hotels for ‘Heavenly’ onboard amenities

As full-flat beds have now become the industry standard in Business Class – allowing passengers to sleep more comfortable – airlines are looking for additional ways to improve comfort. Delta, for example, has teamed up with Westin Hotels to provide passengers with an in-flight version of Westin Hotel’s ‘Heavenly Bed’ range of pillows and comforters. Read article »

9. Dallas/Fort Worth Airport new security check experience is sponsored by Marriott

Dallas/Fort Worth Airport has partnered with Marriott for a three-month pilot to provide a more calming environment for passengers at the security checkpoint. Ambient lighting, wall art and relaxing music have been installed and passengers can re-pack in a ‘re-composure’ area featuring Marriott furnishings. Read article »

10. Qantas trials location-based ‘social listening’ in its airport lounges

Qantas is trialling technology that allows it to monitor social media conversations in specific locations such as airport lounges, even if a passenger doesn’t mention the airline in a tweet or post. This location-based ‘social listening’ is enabled by passengers who have turned on the geo-location feature in Twitter or who have checked into Foursquare or Facebook Places. Read article »