CUSTOMER SERVICE

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

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

This year, wearable tech devices are joining the digital mainstream, and airlines are jumping on the wearable tech bandwagon in order to test new applications as well as position themselves as forward-looking.

Earlier this year, Virgin Atlantic’s six-week trial – featuring Google Glass and Sony SmartWatch 2 devices – in its Heathrow lounge creating a huge wave of publicity for the airline, while airlines such as Vueling, Iberia and airberlin have recently launched boarding passes for smart watches.

Spring Airlines
Meanwhile in China, WCARN reports that the country’s first low-cost carrier Spring Airlines has equipped flight attendants with Google Glasses on a flight from Shanghai’s Hongqiao Airport to Chengdu, becoming the world’s first airline to deploy the device inside the cabin. Spring Airlines says it is embracing wearable devices to stay at the forefront of passenger service innovation.

Details of the specific functionality provided via the Google Glasss devices are scarce, other than Spring Airlines saying that by wearing Google Glasses, Spring Airlines’ flight attendants can get passenger information more intuitively and for example, the name and seat number of passengers shown on the device little screen (image here), allows flight attendants to serve passengers who want to to buy food more accurately and timely. Read full article »

KLM first airline to let passengers pay ‘socially’ via Facebook or Twitter

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

With over 5 million Facebook fans (the most of any airline in the world) and more than 800,000 followers on Twitter, and a wide range of social media initiatives, the KLM brand has become synonymous with social media innovation. In terms of social service, the airline was recently voted as the top ‘socially devoted’ company in the world by social metrics company SocialBakers and for example every 5 minutes displays the actual social media response time via Twitter and Facebook and the airline’s 130 social media agents respond to some 35,000 queries on Facebook and Twitter each week.

KLM’s social media strategy is based on three pillars according to the airline: Reputation, Service and Commerce, stating that “Commerce is the more challenging component of our strategy. Few companies have successfully derived revenue from social media, but we aim to be among those that do.”

Social payment
According to KLM, customers are already able to arrange extra services through social media, but until now payment has taken place over the telephone. However, as customers have regularly indicated that they would like to pay online through its social media channels, the airline decided to explore the posibilities of ‘social payment’.

Explains Frederiek Filippo, Social Media Service Agent at KLM, who came up with the social payment idea: “With around 130 employees at the ready, we respond quickly. With payment required for an increasing number of requests, I wanted to find a more ‘social’ solution. We try so hard to be a one-stop-shop, so the last thing you want to do is bother customers with another call.”

How it works
Similar to booking a ticket via the telephone, customers can inquire the best fares for their preferred date of travelling via social media and when they want to book the ticket, KLM sends a link to the customer in a private message on Facebook or Twitter. The customer can then select their preferred method of payment and complete the transaction.
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Virgin Atlantic launches Google Glass and Sony Smartwatch ‘wearable tech’ trial

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Rapid developments in consumer technnology are a driving force behind many of today’s airline product and service innovations. For example, besides equipping their inflight pursers with tablets, airlines such as British Airways, Qatar Airways and Qantas have equipped their lounge concierges with iPads in order to offer a more personalised service to passengers on the ground.

London Heathrow Clubhouse
Now Virgin Atlantic is upping the technology ante and has started a six-week trial, together with airline IT provider SITA, to learn how wearable technology could improve the passenger experience and speed up the check-in process. “2014 is shaping up to be the breakout year for wearable technology, and Virgin Atlantic is the first to bring its vision to reality,” commented Jim Peters, chief technology officer for SITA, on the initiative.

The trial will see Virgin Atlantic concierges at its London Heathrow Clubhouse lounge getting equipped with wearable tech devices in an effort to give employees more information about Business Class passengers arriving at the ‘Upper Class Wing’, the airline’s premium entrance at Heathrow Airport dedicated to Business Class passengers.

Virgin Atlantic staff are equipped with either Google Glass or a Sony SmartWatch 2, which is integrated to both a purpose-built dispatch app built by SITA, and the Virgin Atlantic passenger service system. The dispatch app manages all task allocation and concierge availability. It pushes individual passenger information directly to the assigned concierge’s smart glasses or watch just as the passenger arrives at the Upper Class Wing.

Hands-free
The technology will enable staff to identify a customer, see their flight details and preferences, and then immediately starts the check-in procedure of the passenger. During the escorted process, weather and local events at their destination, including translating any foreign language information, will be given to the passenger until they reach the lounge. The personalised service can also store preferences for future trips, and eventually could tell Virgin Atlantic staff their passengers’ food and drink preferences.

SITA and Virgin Atlantics will also deploy Sony Smartwatches so that supervisors can evaluate staff requirements and availability.
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Airlines encourage passengers to provide service feedback via apps and cards

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This article earlier appeared in Onboard Hospitality Magazine.
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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Social media has provided passengers with a powerful platform to voice their opinion on the experience they have with airlines. In response, airlines have become one of the most active organizations that actively monitor the online conversation in order to pro-actively take actions to correct issues if needed.

However, instead of just waiting for passengers to share their experiences (both good and bad) online, several airlines have also started to encourage passengers to provide their feedback about the service they encounter in real-time.

KLM ‘Feedback App’
We have reported before on KLM’s mobile ‘Feedback’ app that allows the airline’s passengers to give real-time feedback on how they perceived the experience at a specific area (check-in, lounge, boarding, arrival) at one of 13 participating airports the airline’s network. The rating consists of simply tapping a ‘thumps up’ or ‘thumbs down’ button, but passengers can also specify their rating with a comment. Meanwhile, KLM team leads and station management at participating airports have been equipped with iPads that enables them to monitor the feedback in real-time, so they can react on passenger feedback immediately if needed and possible.

United ‘Outperform Recognition’
Following its merger with Continental, United Airlines launched a a service recognition program, called ‘Outperform Recognition’ in mid-2012, that invites United MileagePlus members to submit up to five nominations every four months through a variety of channels, including United’s mobile app, mobile website and Facebook page. Each period the airline selects 101 eligible employees randomly from the pool of eligible submissions, who receive a financial bonus of between USD 2,500 and 50,000. The first edition of the program (second half of 2012) received over 9,000 nominations.

The option to recognize excellent service through the mobile app [screenshot] is the most innovative part of the initiative as it provides passengers an easy way to express their satisfaction on the spot and in real-time – especially since United has equipped the majority of its domestic fleet with inflight.
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Qantas trials location-based ‘social listening’ in its airport lounges

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Airlines such as KLM and Delta are among the carriers that are the most advanced in monitoring social media such as Twitter and Facebook for passenger inquiries and feedback. KLM’s Social Media hub, for example, employs around 100 staff that respond to social media conversations within the hour, 24 hours a day, in ten different languages.

Location-based social listening
However, to allow airlines to pick up a conversation on social media about their brand, the messages have to feature the airline’s name or a strong reference to it.

Qantas is now trialling technology from Australian start-up Local Measure to help it monitor social media conversations by passengers sitting inside its airport lounges, regardless of whether the user mentions Qantas by name.

The airline already uses other social media monitoring tools such as Salesforce.com’s Radian6 for word-based search but people don’t necessarily mention keywords like ‘Qantas’ when they share for example an photo taken inside the Qantas Club Lounge.

The Local Measure tool will pick up social media conversations in a specific location, but only if the consumer has chosen to share their location by turning on geo-location in Twitter or checking into a service such as Foursquare or Facebook Places.

Positive conversations
Qantas Head of Digital Communications, Jo Boundy, tells Australian business magazine Business Review Weekly that the airline’s the social media team, which sits within the marketing department, is tapping into the positive feedback for its content marketing strategy. “It’s insanely positive and that’s been a real contrast to what you see on our Facebook page, which is pretty toxic, it’s a complaint forum and the people there are not always our customers,” Boundy says.

“We can amplify [positive feedback] but it’s so much more powerful when it’s not us talking about ourselves but customers talking about their experience or even better when it’s celebrities because of their huge following.”
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Babies (and parents) love flying thanks to these ‘sky nannies’

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By Debbie Pappyn, Classe Touriste

In 2003, Bahrain-based Gulf Air was one of the first airlines to introduce a special service for traveling families with kids: the Sky Nanny program. Gulf Air’s Sky Nannies offer help with boarding and disembarkation, hand out goody bags and give parents a much needed break during a long flight when it is time to take a nap.

Every Gulf Air Sky Nanny is specially trained for inflight childcare services so parents can relax more during the flight. The nanny arranges drinks or convenient dining times (with on-board baby food) for the children and sets up the bassinet for the baby and check on them if the parents are sleeping. Sri Lankan Airways offers a similar ‘Child Care Stewardess’ service.

Etihad
Recently, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways also introduced a ‘nanny in the sky’ concept (video here). The airline’s brand-new in-flight child assistance program, Flying Nannies, is designed for all travellers on long-haul flights and is available for every passenger, regardless of which class they are flying in. In the past year, Etihad Airways has trained 300 crewmembers to become experts in childcare. By the end of 2013, there will be 500 Flying Nannies trained in child psychology and sociology at the Norland College in England.

The Flying Nannies, who will be dressed in a bright orange apron, help young families to have more comfortable and relaxing flights. From single parents traveling alone with a baby to families with several kids that all need attention, the nanny will help families with children as well as unaccompanied minors. She (or he) will serve special kids’ meals, see to it that the parents can enjoy their meal more comfortably and will even hand out drinks like full milk bottles, fruits or snacks for after the flight.
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Delta provides cabin crew with Nokia Lumia ‘onboard retail’ smartphones

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Equipping airline cabin crew with tablets and smartphones is the latest step in continued efforts by airlines to increase their onboard retail revenues.

Since the end of 2012, American Airlines has been equipping its 17,000 flight attendants with Samsung Galaxy Note handheld devices, saying trials revealed that crew liked the fact that they could hold the device in one hand and easily slip it into a pocket – which is not always possible with a larger tablet. Besides being a means to provide crew with the latest passenger information, American uses the devices for onboard transactions such as the purchase of food and beverages inflight.

Meanwhile in the US, low-cost carrier Allegiant has provided its cabin crew with iPads that feature the FlyDesk app from its subsidiairy Allegiant Systems, while in Europe TUI (Arkefly) has deployed MI.Airline’s Connected Crew solution using 7-inch Samsung tablets.

Delta x Nokia Lumia
The latest airline to provide its crew with a next-generation point-of-sale (POS) device is Delta Air Lines. The airline at the end of August started the roll-out of Windows Phone 8-based Nokia Lumia 820 handheld devices to flight attendants (or inflight professionals as Delta likes to call them) around the world in an effort to streamline the process for purchasing items on board and to put key flight information at their fingertips.

Under the agreement, AT&T will equip more than 19,000 Delta flight attendants with Nokia Lumia devices powered by Microsoft Dynamics mobile point-of-sale platform on Windows Phone 8, with a Delta-specific customer experience developed by Accenture-subsidiary Avanade to operate over Wi-Fi and AT&T’s 4G LTE Network.

Flight attendants began testing the Nokia smartphones during flights in June 2013 and in-flight trials have shown that the new solution is already around 10 percent faster than Delta’s previous systems.

Says Michael Griffiths, Global Managing Director, Retail and Distribution, Microsoft Dynamics, “The company decided to make the move after running into significant challenges with the limitations of its legacy point of sale devices. Yes, they could capture transactions for food, headphones and duty-free items. But they were bulky. They had to stay on the plane. They were costly in terms of maintenance. Information had to be uploaded from them manually. They did not have high-speed wireless connectivity. There simply wasn’t a lot of additional value they could drive beyond basic, transactional interactions, and even those were suboptimal.”

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Buy your airline ticket in style: Qatar Airways opens ticket office in Harrods

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

We have reported before airlines in Brazil have been developing innovative strategies as they compete to win over the new Brazilian middle class, many of whom are entirely new to air travel. For example, TAM and low-cost carrier GOL are targeting this segment with novel sales channels, such as mini travel stores at busy subway and bus stations and kiosks at discount stores.

On a related note, Philippine Airlines and its low-cost subsidiary AirPhil Express offer customers in the Philippines the option to book a domestic ticket online and then pay for their ticket using cash at over 750 7-Eleven retail outlets nationwide, which are open 24/7. Meanwhile, Jetstar Japan has just signed a distribution agreement to sell tickets through the ubiqitous Lawson convenience store franchise chain. The arrangement enables customers to book Jetstar Japan air tickets using the multi-media terminals (known as Lawson Loppi) and pay for them in cash at the chain’s 10,000 plus stores. The deal with Lawson will allow the low-cost carrier to become the first airline in Japan to sell fares at multi-media terminals that already sell concert, bus and train tickets.

5-Star
On the other end of the spectrum, Qatar Airways – which was voted Airline of the Year in 2012 and is one of just a handful 5-star rated airlines in the world – has just opened a flagship high-street ticket office in one of the world’s most exclusive shopping destinations – iconic British department store, Harrods in Knightsbridge, London.

Located on the lower ground floor of the department store, next door to Harrods Bank, the Qatar Airways ticket office is a short walk for many citizens from the oil rich state who have moved to the UK with many living in Knightsbridge and Kensington. Or as The Telegraph states it: “Now, with their favourite airline taking space in the Harrods basement, Qataris will only need to leave their Ferraris and Lamborghinis for a short time to collect their tickets on the carrier.”

Futhermore, Mohammed Al-Fayed sold Harrods for GBP1.5 billion to investment company Qatar Holdings in May 2010 – forging a close link to the Arab state.

“London is one of our most important gateways,” said Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker. “We are opening our ticket office in central London at Harrods as it is a place that not only reflects the high level of service we offer, but is where our most discerning customers can be found. Harrods customers can now experience our unrivalled 5 star service in-store and onboard.”

Qatar Airways operates five daily flights between Doha and London Heathrow.

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Air Canada’s new LCC – rouge – teams with Disney for customer service training

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For more on the latest trends in airline hospitality, see our recent presentation at the 2013 Hamburg AIX Passenger Experience Conference.

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

The idea behind Air Canada’s new low-cost subsidiary Rouge is to offer a lower-cost alternative for several international leisure destinations to which Air Canada’s current cost structure makes it prohibitive to fly. Air Canada is hoping with lower wages and benefits along with a higher-density configuration of its planes, Rouge’s unit costs will be lower than the main line’s by about 25 percent or more.

The airline will offer 13 leisure destinations in Europe and the Caribbean from Toronto and Montreal: Edinburgh, Venice, Athens; and a host of vacation choices in Cuba, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Jamaica. Destinations will be added in the coming months as the fleet grows, expected to reach 50 aircraft in the next three to five years.

Rouge will launch service with four planes on July 1st and will start its inaugural flights that day from Toronto to Kingston, Jamaica, and from Montreal to Athens in Europe.

Casual style
As Rouge will be more leisure-focused compared with Air Canada, this means a change in style and attitude for their service staff. The airline says it aims  to deliver a relaxed, casual onboard experience and just reveiled its new flight attendant uniforms, which are much more casual, with relatively-basic burgundy tops and grey pants, and  shoes from Canadian designer John Fluevog.

The outfits came together in just four months, by taking pieces that already exist on the market and having certain elements customized to suit the brand. “You can move quite quickly when you don’t invent anything new,” says Renee Smith-Valade VP customer experience of Rouge.

L’Oreal has created “the look” for Air Canada rouge flight attendants, using products from its brands Maybelline New York and Redken Fifth Avenue. The crew will be equipped with a starter kit of the product, and will be trained on on how to use them.

Service training
Rouge has also partnered with The Walt Disney Co – who has trained the likes of United Airlines and Alaska Airlines – to help with the training of its flight attendants to aid in the transformation. In addition to five weeks of safety and other training, Air Canada Rouge first 150 flight attendants will spend a week at the Disney Institute in Orlando to learn the ins and outs of its customer service model. They will also hone their skills and techniques at Disney World parks in Orlando.
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Emirates provides 1,000 pursers with HP tablets as part of ‘knowledge-driven’ in-flight service drive

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Already launched back in 2004, Emirates ‘Knowledge-driven Inflight Service’ (KIS) allows the airline’s cabin crew to see which previous trips a passenger has taken with the carrier before and based on this, know their food, wine and seating preferences, or any issues a customer had during their travels. Pursers use KIS to brief the cabin crew before every flight and check passenger’s special needs, as well as see who is enrolled in Emirates’ frequent flyer programme Skywards in order to enable the crew to provide a more personalized service. Cabin crew can also use the KIS system to perform in-flight upgrades to Business or First Class, as well as post customer feedback that’s emailed to headquarters upon landing.

Until now, Emirates’ KIS tool was tied to a Lenovo Thinkpad laptop that pursers tote around (video here). However, the laptops proved to be too bulky to use on a full flight. Says Anita Grillo, purser for Emirates, “The laptops had to be unpacked and plugged in because they had a short battery life. We had to ask passengers to come back to the galley to verify information, and passengers would have to wait until we clicked through pages that were sometimes slow to load.”

HP ElitePad 900
In order to solve the issues with the rather outdated device, as well as further enhance its knowledge-driven inflight service, Emirates just announced it has become the first global customer of the HP’s new ElitePad 900 tablet which runs on Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system. According to Kevin Griffiths, SVP of cabin crew at Emirates, the airline tried numerous other devices but was attracted to the ElitePad by its looks, lack of weight and bulk and support for legacy (Windows-based) applications.

Emirates IT staff redesigned the KIS application to run on Windows 8 and deployed it on the ElitePad tablets. “We quickly rebuilt the application to include images and gestures,” Griffiths told Techradar. “The whole project from the development starting has been about six months. We have already trained 100 people and they will go online in December. In January after the launch of the ElitePad we’ll be rolling out over about four months and all of our pursers will have a device each then.”

The ElitePad is 3G enabled and Emirates has airtime agreements in place in most of its 120 destinations, so the tablet is synchronised with the back end applications and loads the final status just before departure, as well as will on landing.
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Philippine Air lets customers without a credit card book online and pay at a nearby 7 Eleven store

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

We have reported earlier how airlines in emerging economies have been introducing innovative services aimed at the rapidly growing middle class in the BRIC and Next-11 countries. Many of these consumers, often novice fliers, do not own credit cards or even have a bank account.

In Brazil, TAM sells tickets via low-end retail chain Casas Bahia and at high-traffic locations such as subway stations and bus stations. The airline also provides ‘how to fly’ advice to first-time fliers at its sales kiosks. TAM, Gol and Azul also allow customers to pay for their ticket in multiple installments.

In East Africa, airlines such as Kenya Airways and Uganda Airlines have teamed up with mobile payment services M-PESA and Airtel Money to allow people without a bank account to purchase air tickets via sms. Qatar Airways, meanwhile, offers passengers in twelve countries across Africa the option to book their ticket online and pay for it using cash within 48 hours at a Qatar Airways reservation or airport office.

Philippine Airlines ‘Reserve and Hold’
In the Philippines, passengers who book a ticket online for a domestic flight with Philippine Airlines (PAL), and its low-cost subsidiary AirPhil Express, can now pay for their ticket using cash at over 750 7-Eleven retail outlets nationwide which are open 24/7.

The new scheme is designed for the large number of consumers in the Philippines who do not own a credit card and PAL says it wants to offer them the convenience to do their bookings online at home, office, internet cafe or via their mobile phone and then go the nearest 7-Eleven outlet in their neighborhood to make the payment.
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Virgin America goes social and personal with new IFE system

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Virgin America, probably the most tech-savvy airline in the industry, plans to revolutionise its approach to customer service. Next year the airline will further upgrade its already advanced RED IFE system with a service built on Salesforce.com’s Chatter social messaging tool. This will allow passengers to interact with the carrier via the entertainment screens on the back of seats during the flight to deal with “real-time problems that need real-time answers”, according to the airline’s CEO David Cush. Virgin America already allows passengers to message each other during a flight, but with Chatter they will also be able to interact with Virgin America support staff on the ground.

How it works
A Salesforce.com-based CRM dashboard provides Virgin America customer service agents with information about each customer’s last three interactions on social media and their flight history, which allows them to send a targeted message.

For example, a customer tweeting about being worried about missing a flight will be served up a response via Chatter on the screen in front of their seat with information on how they can make their next connection. Customer service personnel on the ground could also take pro-active action to alert a passenger to a potential problem, such as a bag not having made it on the flight, through a pop-up alert on the screen.

Passengers, meanwhile, will find a personalized environment on their IFE system. For example, Virgin America is looking to not just give passengers details about their frequent flyer points, but also suggest entertainment and food & beverage choices on what they have watched before or eaten on previous trips, as well as airport maps of where they go to make connecting flights. The system also gives all passengers brief profiles on other passengers as a conversation starter for the seat-to-seat chat function.

Furthermore, passengers can contact Virgin America’s customer service staff via the IFE system to ask if they have been upgraded on the next leg of their travel and get quick feedback. When watching a movie, the IFE screen will signal passengers that they have received a notification from the airline.
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Online services help airline passengers get a refund

By Arpad Szakal

The Internet has been the major force behind the emergence of the so-called ‘Amateur-Expert Traveller’: knowledgeable travellers, who – empowered by the likes of TripAdvisor, Zoover, SeatGuru, Bing Travel and TripWolf – often know more what to expect about their flight, accommodation and destination than most travel, airline or hotel agents. There is no shortage of online help for frequent flyers either. Websites such as Flyertalk, FrequentFlier.com, InsideFlyer and ExpertFlyer.com aim to help travellers make the most of frequent flyer programs, often by letting community members help each other.

Online services such as EUclaim, ChangeYourFlight and Yapta, meanwhile, aim to help airline passengers obtain compensation for delays, cancellation, re-routing and denied boarding, avoid change fees, or get a refund if their ticket price drops.

EUclaim
Considering the airlines’ sometimes non-cooperative attitude towards passengers who are claiming compensation or want to refund their ticket, online services such as Refund.me and EUclaim provide air passengers with advice and assistance on claiming their right according to EU Regulation 261/2004.

For example, EUclaim has developed a database which tracks every commercial airliner in order to check whether the excuse passengers are given by the airlines for not being offered compensation is correct and legitimate. The company does not offer legal advice but rather a straightforward online solution for compensation recovery. After passengers have completed the official EU Complaint form, the EUclaim website takes them through the regulation via some easy to follow questions and then gives advice about the chances of filing a successful claim.

EUclaim provides this advice free of charge, and based on the advice they are given, custumers decide if they wish to purchase one of EUclaim`s tailor made complaint packages. The company operates on a “no cure, no pay” basis, which essentially means that passengers who do not receive compensation do not have to pay any fees. However, passengers who do succeed in getting compensation get charged 27 percent of their compensation award. According to EUclaim’s website, so far the company has helped passengers submit nearly 55,000 claims to airlines.
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Aeroflot lets passengers book a taxi while up in the air

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

We have reported earlier how Latvian-based airBaltic in 2010 established its own taxi company – BalticTAXI – in order to provide passengers with a hassle-free journey to and from Riga Airport. As taxi drivers in Riga often charge foreign visitors too much for the ride, airBaltic felt this was harming the image of its hub and decided to launch a fleet of Toyota Corolla taxis, staffed by uniformed drivers, and charge a fixed price for the journey between the airport and any location in Riga.

In-flight taxi reservation
Another airline that is making an effort to provide passengers with a safe and hassle-free onward journey is Russia’s flag carrier Aeroflot, which offers passengers on domestic flights out of Moscow the option to reserve a taxi while up in the air. Launched in 2008 on flights from Moscow to two airports in Siberia (Novosibirsk, Yekatarinburg), Aeroflot’s so-called ‘in-flight taxi reservation service’ is available today on flights arriving at 12 domestic airports in Russia, including St.Petersburg, Khabarovsk, Sochi and Samara.

The taxi reservation service is offerered free of charge by Aeroflot and passengers pay for the onward trip at the end of their journey. Aeroflot passengers also receive a discount that ranges from 5 to 15 percent depending on the participating taxi operator.

How it works
On medium and long-haul domestic routes (for example to Russia’s Far East) cabin crew make an announcement about the in-flight taxi reservation service via the PA system and then hand out ‘taxi order’ vouchers to interested passengers. After collecting and sorting the filled-out vouchers, cabin crew passes the taxi reservations list to the captain, who forwards the information via Aeroflot’s Operations Control Center to the taxi operator located at the arrival airport. Upon arrival, passengers collect their baggage and head for the taxi reservation counter (located in the arrival hall of the airport) to present their voucher to the dispatcher, who provides them with the registration number of the reserved taxi waiting near the airport entrance.
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Tokyo Narita Airport improves customer service with iPads and language badges

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

In order to improve the passenger experience at the airport, Tokyo Narita International Airport recently rolled out a number of customer service initiatives as part of its ‘i-Airport’ strategy.

iPads
Following earlier initiatives at Madrid Barajas and Singapore Changi airports, Tokyo Narita recently equipped roving help desk staff patrolling the airport’s Terminals 1 and 2 with iPads to provide passengers with real-time information on-the-spot. In addition to flight details, train and bus schedules, details of local hotels and lost and found information, the devices also let mobile agents provide guidance using digital maps of airport facilities and retail stores. Six iPads are currently in operation and Narita says it is using the tablets to complement the ‘traditional’ airport’s information counters.

NariTra translating app
In order to enable service agents to respond to Chinese and Korean-speaking travellers in their mother tongues, the customer service iPads also have the airport’s new NariTra language translation app installed. Launched by Tokyo Narita in early 2012 – and available for free download in the iTunes App store and Android Market – the NariTra app translates standard travel phrases as well as spoken phrases into English, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. In addition to the language app, Tokyo Narita in June 2012 also launched a ‘mobile wayfinding’ app.

Language badges
A ‘low-tech’ way to overcome language barriers are “I Can Speak a Foreign Language” badges, which retail staff at Narita have been wearing since April 2012. The colourful badges allow travellers to tell at a glance if a clerk can speak a language other than Japanese or English.
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