LOW COST CARRIERS

Bikevertising: WOW Air’s bike sharing scheme in Reykjavik

A marketing tactic that has been adopted by airlines such as KLM, Alaska Airlines and AirBaltic is to advertise on bike share programs (a.k.a. ‘bikevertising’).

As cities across the globe have been taken part in bicycle share programs which are enjoyed by tourists and locals alike, those bicycles are a smart and relevant way for an airline to advertise.

BalticBike
Latvian-based ‘value carrier’ AirBaltic even operated its own bike sharing program, called BalticBike, between 2010 and 2014 in Riga and the seaside resort of Jurmala (the bike sharing scheme is now operated by Sixt https://www.sixtbicycle.lv/en). At that time the airline commented that “BalticBike makes a marginal profit, but it is hugely popular among the city residents and tourists, and hugely visible, and so irreplaceable in advertising.”

WOWcitybike
In a similar entrepreneurial spirit, WOW Air, which bills itself as a “happy low-fare, long-haul, airline based in Iceland,” last year launched a bike sharing scheme in Reykjavik called WOWcitybike. In 2016, the city of Reykjavik advertised for ideas and interested parties in running rental bicycle stations in Reykjavik, and WOW Air answered the call  in cooperation with Canadian bike sharing company PBSC Urban Solutions.

Targetting the millennial demographic, WOW Air has been compared to a “flying youth hostel,” and providing tourists and citizens an affordable and fun way to explore the capital on their own fits well with the airline’s brand image. Read full article »

Jeju Air offers passengers on overnight flights the option to stretch out

Moving beyond the low hanging – and very profitable – ancillary fruit of checked bags, advance seat reservations, extra legroom seats and last-minute upgrades, airlines are becoming more creative in generating revenues beyond just the ticket fare.

One way to approach ancillary innovation is to look at the different needs passengers travelling in the same class may have. For example, SWISS has recently introduced a fee to pre-reserve one of the popular solo business class seats on its A330 and B777-300ER aircraft.

In Economy, airlines are increasingly offering passengers options for more comfort at a time when seat density is increasing and load factors are high.

Empty Seat Option
South Korean low-cost carrier Jeju Air – which flies between South Korea and Japan, China, Taiwan, Guam, Saipan, The Phillipines, and Bangkok with a fleet of 26 single class B737-800s – has come up with a clever, hands-on, way to generate last-minute ancillary income, low-cost style.

About two years ago, Jeju Air introduced a ‘Side Seat’ offer, which is similar to OptionTown’s ‘Empty Seat Option’ (adopted by airlines such as AirAsia X, Vietnam Airlines and Spicejet), and lets travellers purchase one or two seats next to their own seat, in an effort to sell last-minute seat inventory.

Whereas the Empty Seat Option lets passengers purchase an option to a possible empty seat for a small fee and be notified if an empty seat is available 1 to 3 days before their flight, Jeju Air’s passengers can only book the additional seats at their departure airport on the day of the travel (up to 1 hour before boarding).

Jeju Air’s ‘Side Seats’ are priced at USD 10 for domestic routes, USD 25 on routes to and from Japan and China’s Shandong region, USD 30 on flights between South Korea and Southern China and Taipei, whereas the fee for a last minute extra seat is USD 50 on routes to and from Southeast Asia (Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand) and Oceania (Guam, Saipan). Read full article »

Ryanair lets passengers rate their flight via its mobile app

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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.

Feedback results
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.

Japanese LCC Peach goes low-cost with cardboard check-in kiosks

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By Ryan Ghee, Future Travel Experience

Japanese low-cost carrier Peach has unveiled its inventive new self-service check-in kiosks, which are the first airline kiosks made largely of cardboard.

Cardboard has been used for the exterior of the kiosks, making it easier for the carrier to update branding and advertising imagery, and reducing the overall manufacturing and transportation costs.

Cardboard and touch-screen displays
Peach worked with Yaneura Design on the design of the new kiosks, which are taller than the previous generation of kiosks to help them stand out in the terminal. At 32 inches, the touch-screen display is 17 inches larger than the 15-inch screen found on conventional kiosks.

The large screen can be divided into two [image], allowing the carrier to display advertising or promotional content alongside the step-by-step self-service check-in instructions. The top half of the screen can also be used to prompt passengers waiting in line to have their passport ready, to help speed up the check-in process.

To make the experience as intuitive as possible for passengers, the kiosks automatically select the language that was used at the time of booking.

80 percent cost reduction
According to the airline, when compared to the cost of manufacturing traditional check-in machines of the same size, the new check-in kiosks can be delivered at approximately 20 percent of the cost.

Five of the new kiosks have been installed in Osaka Kansai Airport’s low-cost Terminal 2.

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

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Along with basic objectives such as protection, preservation and convenience, attractive and fun packaging appeals to consumers’ emotions and brings a product alive, while clever packaging can also convince consumers to try something new just because of the way it looks.

As airlines are starting to approach the passenger experience in a more holistic way, they are also starting to pay attention to details such as the packaging of meals and drinks as an extension of their brand.

Or as Travel + Leisure magazine put it recently: “From hyper-local delicacies to iconic sweets, the best in-flight snacks deliver a sense of place, express an airline’s personality—and make a tasty souvenir.”

Adds Nikos Loukas of airline food website InflightFeed, “Airline food packaging needs to be fun and engage the customer during the meal service, it gives them something to think about but can also work as inflight entertainment.”

Two great examples of attractive and fun food packaging can be found in India, where low-cost carriers JetKonnect and IndiGo have come up with quirky buy-on-board ranges.

JetKonnect
Mumbai-based JetKonnect, the low-cost subsidiairy of Jet Airways, has hired local ad agency Grandmother to make plane food something passengers might actually want to eat, via fun packaging that features Indian touches.

Each item on the buy-on-board menu tells a different story of the ‘love’ for food. For example, the packaging of the savoury pastry samosas is the tale of ‘Sam’ meeting ‘Hosa’, while a tin of nuts features ‘Dr. Nutman.’ The cookie packet is an ode to a robber, and features the words ‘chor-police’ (robber-cop in Hindi). Stories featuring each of the characters are printed on the colorful packets.

According to Grandmother, JetKonnect approached the agency to reinvent its entire line of on-board perishable and non-perishable products. Since the packaging system involved multiple products in different materials, the agency invented a story that would tie all products into one umbrella story that would engage, educate and inform, all the while making food fun and and enjoyable.

Or as Grandmother puts it: “Value is being surprised and delighted when you least expect it. Why should packaging be static? Why can’t it be a story in itself? Can it make someone read before grabbing a bite?”
Read full article »

IndiGo lets passengers taste and vote for their favourite buy-on-board sandwich

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

In just a few years, low-cost carrier IndiGo has become India’s largest domestic carrier by securing nearly 30 percent of the local market.

IndiGo’s popularity with Indian passengers is based on its ‘no-frills chic’ approach towards flying. According to IndiGo President Aditya Ghosh, the airline’s philosophy is “to make travel as hassle-free as possible — low-cost but high quality — and that’s why we are popular both with budget travellers and high-level corporations.”

IndiGo has worked with agency Wieden + Kennedy building a new, cool airline brand from scratch. Besides quirky advertising, everything from the design of the safety instruction card and sickness bag, to the availability of a boarding ramp instead of a staircase, to the packaging of in-flight snacks were aimed at being more engaging. For example, IndiGo’s triangular paid-for ‘Airwich’ boxes feature interesting stories and fun illustrations to offer passengers something to read when having their meal

IndiGo ‘Food Fight’
In another innovative effort to promote its buy-on-board offering, IndiGo and Wieden + Kennedy in late 2012 organized a food tasting in the sky, dubbed #IndiGoFoodFight.

Held on a single day on IndiGo flights across major routes, over 1,000 passengers were surprised with boxes of free food samples containing the contenders for the airline’s new buy-on-board menu. Passengers were asked to vote for their favourite, with the winner making it on-board as the “Passenger’s Choice.”

Or as the airline putsit more dramatically: “It’s the ultimate showdown at 35,000 feet. From the feather-weight division we have Lemon Chicken Sub vs Curried Chicken Sub vs Chicken Jhatka. And in the veggie-weights, introducing Veg Junglee vs Tomato-hummus vs Paneer-mushroom. May the best sandwich win!”

The Veg Junglee Sandwich and Curried Chicken Sub turned out to be the clear favourites among passengers and are now featured on the IndiGo menu. A video of the event can be found here and images here.

New low-cost, high-speed rail service launches in France

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

In an effort to boost ridership on its high-speed rail system, French national rail operator SNCF has launched the world’s first low cost high speed rail travel. Called Ouigo (as in “We Go”),  the new cheap, no-frills train service for France will offer ticket prices from just EUR 10, significantly cheaper than tickets for the normal TGV train.

Ouigo is an independently run subsidiary of SNCF and will operate its own trains, modified double-decker TGV Duplex trains, the same trains as SNCF’s regular TGV service. The new service will start running between the outskirts of Paris and the south of France (Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier) in April this year. Three or four return journeys will operate every day.

Low-cost carriers
To allow for such cheap fares, Ouigo shares similarities to no-frills carriers such as Ryanair and easyJet. Trains depart from Marne-la-Vallée (where Euro Disney is located) to the east of the French capital – almost 20 miles away from central Paris, a scenario reminiscent of the budget airlines’ strategy to use airports away from city centres. Ouigo trains will have no premium section, no food or drink service and less free leg space in order to accommodate 1,200 passengers, 20 percent more than a normal TGV service. Tickets can only be bought on-line, not from ticket machines or ticket counters.

It also means adding fees. Passengers can bring only one small bag (about the size of an airplane carry-on) and a purse or backpack. If a traveler waits until boarding time to pay for an extra bag, there’s a EUR40 charge. If done ahead of time, the cost is only EUR5. Seating in a car with outlets costs an extra EUR2; getting information about a reservation via the phone requires another EUR1. Reservations can be changed for EUR10 (EUR20 if done on the phone), but not fully reimbursed.

Each year 400,000 seats will go on sale at just EUR10 with a further one million costing just EUR25. Prices will rise depending on demand until they reach a maximum price of EUR85.

According to calculations published in French newspaper Le Figaro, the average price for a Friday journey from Paris to Marseille booked three months in advance costs EUR72 on the TGV, EUR50 on Air France, EUR34 on Ryanair, and EUR25 on Ouigo.
Read full article »

Long-haul low-cost carrier AirAsia X to offer kids-free ‘Quiet Zone’ onboard

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Two recent surveys conducted by TripAdvisor found that 40 percent of U.S. travellers said they would pay extra to sit in a designated quiet section of the plane, while nearly 80 percent of Britons agreed there should be child-free zones on board, and a third of of respondents would pay more for their flight if there were no children on board.

Quiet Zone
Following a controversial decision by Malaysia Airlines to introduce a ‘child-free cabin’ on the upper deck of its new A380 superjumbo (Business and Economy), Malaysia-based long-haul low-cost carrier AirAsia X has announced it will be launching a so-called ‘Quiet Zone’ on its fleet of Airbus A330s.

Starting in February 2013, the airline will create a “Quiet Zone” in the front section of its widebody aircraft, located between the airline’s Premium Class section and the front galley. Children younger than 12 years old will not be able to book seats in the Quiet Zone, and passengers opting for the zone will be asked to keep noise to a minimum, while there will also be special ambient lighting in the cabin. Passenger will also be among the first to disembark.

The dedicated zone will consist of the first eight rows of the Economy section (rows 7 to 14), and  as the front area already houses the airline’s Premium Class, turning this part of the aircraft into a Quiet Zone will also be appreciated by AirAsia X’s premium passengers.
Read full article »

Low-cost carrier Volaris offers free tickets to Mexicans who have never flown before

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Despite the fiscal woes in Europe and the recession that is taking place in a large part of the developed world, a new middle class is emerging in rapidly developing economies such as the so-called BRICs and The Next-11. These countries are enjoying significant economic growth, which is resulting in the creation of a middle class who are ‘trading up’ from long-distance buses to travelling by air, often flying for the first time in their life.

Brazil, Kenya
We have reported before how an airline like TAM is targetting the rapidly growing middle class in Brazil in innovative ways, for example by selling tickets via kiosks at low-end retail chains and subway stations. The airline also allows customers to pay their ticket in multiple installments and provides ‘how to fly’ advice to first-time flyers. Meanwhile in East Africa, airlines such as Kenya Airways and Uganda Airlines have teamed up with mobile payment services like M-PESA and Airtel Money to allow people without a bank account to purchase air tickets via their mobile phone.

Mexico
To demonstrate that air travel is no longer out of reach for the masses, Mexican low-cost airline Volaris in 2011 joined efforts with EnElAire – a Mexican aviation website and radio program – to realize the dream of 15 people with a passion for flying but who had never taken a flight before.

After asking the general public via radio and various social media, “Do you know anyone who dreams of flying on an airplane yet hasn’t been able to do so?,” Volaris and EnElAire received dozens of stories submitted by people nominating friends or family members to participate in the contest.
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Southwest gives its 737 interiors a ‘green’ makeover

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

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

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

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

South African LCC Mango rewards random acts of kindness

By Vivek Mayasandra

Social good is on a lot of people’s minds these days. With a turbulent economic climate and more social awareness, nonprofits, charities and businesses have been scaling their presence to give more, and have been doing so with unique models. Over the past year, businesses in particular have been unprecedented in their initiatives ranging from pay-what-you-can schemes to giving free rides to volunteer events. The trend of spreading good is rightfully taking root in the global business community, and more and more airlines have been catching on with their own unique initiatives.

Airpoints, surprises and free wifi
Dutch carrier KLM has been widely recognized in the industry as a highly innovative carrier – a reputation that can also be applied to their involvement in kindness-based campaigns. In late 2010, KLM’s incredibly well-received KLM Surprise initiative, rewarded small gifts to random passengers who left an ‘@KLM’ tweet or checked in at the airline’s Schiphol Airport FourSquare locations. With New Zealand being the world’s first country to designate a national ‘Random Acts of Kindness Day’, it should come as no surprise that Air New Zealand has also been at the forefront of offering kindness to fliers. In addition to its long running gift-granting @AirNZFairy Twitter account, Air New Zealand earlier this year launched a similar campaign as KLM’s at Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch airports.

Mango
Recognizing and rewarding kindness made its way to South Africa this year in the form of Kindness Month. Mango, one of the country’s low cost carriers, and a subsidiary of South African Airways, commemorated its fifth birthday by implementing a new initiative to reward acts of kindness across the country. During ‘Kindness Month’, which started on 15 November and lasts until 15 December, 2011, Mango will be celebrating acts of kindness between South Africans “through hearing how South Africans helped one another.”

Says Mango’s CEO Nico Bezuidenhout, “We want to hear about personal experiences, about individuals who have made a difference; small but significant acts that has impacted someone’s day, week or life. It could be a shop assistant who went out of their way for a customer, a friend in need, someone who gives you a lift when in challenging circumstances. Anything. In the lead up to the December holiday season, we need to share kindness in even larger measures.”
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Ryanair and Samsonite offer ‘guaranteed’ carry on bag

In the U.S, most major airlines (with the exception of Southwest and Jetblue) now charge passengers to check their luggage. This has led to an increase in the size and amount of carry on luggage that passengers take on board, which in turn has caused issues with available space in the overhead bins. Airlines such as American Airlines have responded to this by introducing early boarding fees, allowing passengers to board early so they can store their luggage, while low-cost airline Spirit Airlines has even introduced a fee of USD20 to USD40 to take hand baggage on board.

In Europe, meanwhile, Latvian-based airBaltic recently introduced its so-called ‘airBalticBag’, an airBaltic-branded Samsonite suitcase which for EUR169/181 (depending on size) can be carried as free checked luggage on an unlimited number of airBaltic flights for a year. AirBaltic normally charges passengers in Economy a fee of EUR20 to 30 per checked bag one way.

Ryanair
On a similar note, Ryanair has teamed up with Samsonite to offer a hard-shell carry-on bag which is guaranteed to meet the airline’s carry-on luggage weight and size restrictions. Each Ryanair passenger (excluding infants) is permitted to carry one piece of cabin baggage on board free of charge, which should weigh no more than 10kg and not exceed the maximum dimensions of 55cm x 40cm x 20cm.
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Southwest shows its LUV to Denver with free pedicab rides and a downtown cafe

With 144 daily nonstop flights to 42 destinations, Denver (Colorado) is the fifth largest airport in terms of departures for Southwest Airlines (airline code: LUV). According to the airline’s CEO Gary Keller, Denver is “very important to Southwest as it is the fastest-expanding market in Southwest’s 40-year history.” Since Southwest’s competitors in Denver — United and Frontier — are distracted with either merger or restructuring activities, Dallas-based Southwest is taking its chance to establish itself as Denver’s new hometown carrier. 

In July 2010, Southwest launched a Denver-specific advertising campaign professing its dedication to the market with a tagline of, “Say Yes, Denver!”. The ads starred the airline’s local Denver employees which asked the public, “Denver, will you fly us?” To further back its commitment to Denver, Southwest is aligning itself with the city by supporting a host of community organizations, as well as a series of free ‘brand butler’ services, such as free pedicab rides. Says the airline, “At Southwest Airlines, we make it our mission to become engaged and involved in the communities that we serve in a meaningful and relevant way”. 

The Southwest Porch
This summer, Southwest sponsored concerts and movies (including free cupcakes) in Downtown Denver’s Skyline Park, and from July to December 2010 offers free pedicab rides to and from events across the city. In September 2010, Southwest also opened ‘The Southwest Porch at Skyline Park’ at the base of Denver’s historic Daniels and Fisher Tower. The Southwest Porch is an year-round outdoor lounge where Denverites can relax and enjoy pizza and drinks from local suppliers. Read full article »

Entrepreneurial airBaltic extends brand to taxi and bike sharing services

In the last years, Latvian national airline airBaltic has made a transformation from a point-to-point low-cost carrier to a hybrid network LCC. The airline has turned its Riga hub into a connecting point for travelers from Nordic and Northwestern Europe to the rapidly growing markets of the former Soviet Union and the Middle East. airBaltic offers transfer its passengers (60% of customers) at Riga through ticketing and check-in, as well as 25-minute connection times, and other hybrid LCC features include a 2-class cabin, airport lounge, and a frequent flyer program.

airBaltic has been growing its network fast, adding 15 new routes in 2008, 11 in 2009, and 27 routes this year (for example adding smaller cities in Finland). In 2009, the airline carried 2.75 million passengers and according to AEA data passenger numbers grew 19% in the first 5 months of 2010. Besides this aggressive hub strategy, the company behind airBaltic, Baltic Aviation Systems, seems to be turning into a Baltic version of the easyGroup (of easyJet and easyHotel fame), using the airBaltic brand (simple, reliable, affordable, visible) to enter other markets.

In April 2010, airBaltic established its own taxi company, BalticTAXI, in order to improve the quality of the taxi business in the capital. Taxi drivers in Riga often charge too much for rides, which is damaging the image of Riga and Latvia. Citing a lack of government interest to improve the situation, airBaltic believed there was room for a new transparent entrant. BalticTAXI’s fleet of 120 Toyota Corolla Verso vehicles is staffed by professional uniformed drivers, and for example there is a fixed price for the journey from the airport to any location in Riga.
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Southwest ‘plane-vertises’ its bags fly free policy

While some low-cost airlines don’t shy away from turning their aircraft into flying billboards, Southwest Airlines is using its most visible assets – airplanes and ground support equipment – in an innovative way to advertize its ‘Bags Fly Free’ policy. The airline has put a “Free Bags Fly Here” slogan on more than 50 aircraft with an arrow pointing to the cargo bin, and also tagged around 1,000 luggage carts across its network with banners that say “I Carry Free Bags.”

Aimed at anyone who looks out the terminal window or the window from their airplane, Southwest’s ‘planevertising’ initiative is a smart way to target people at the time when they are most unhappy about having had to pay bag fees.  
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