Internet / Mobile
13 May 2013 | Airlines around the world are responding to the large number of passengers carrying smartphones, notebooks, tablets and e-readers by equipping seats with power ports and introducing onboard Wi-Fi and/or wireless inflight entertainment portals. Meanwhile, most airlines also still offer passengers paper newspapers and magazines in their lounges, boarding areas and on board, which is relatively costly and not too eco-friendly service.
In an effort to offer passengers a much wider variety of news, instead of the rather obligatory bunch of newspapers and magazines currently available, as well as to save on distribution costs, airlines such as Air France, airberlin, Virgin Australia and ANA have started to provide passengers with access to digital newspapers and magazines before their flight leaves. This allows airlines to save costs and offer passengers. Comments David Flynn, editor of Australian Business Traveller, “Being able to grab a digital copy of your favourite newspaper, especially ones from overseas, is a great pre-flight and even post-flight perk.”
An overview of the latest initiatives.
Air France ‘Press’
For some time, Air France has been offering a digital press service on iPads available for passengers to use in its lounges at Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport. The airline has now expanded this service and has launched a new ‘AF Press’ app that lets passengers download their preferred publications up to 24 hours before their flight until the time of departure to read them before, during and after their trip.
At the moment, there are 13 newspapers and 12 magazines available via the app and the offer will be gradually supplemented with French and international publications. Air France inflight magazines are available for download free of charge, with or without a flight reservation, by all ‘AF Press’ users.
As for now, all Air France ‘Travel Saver’ cardholders carrying an iPad or Android device are able to download a selection of magazines and newspapers onto their tablet free of charge. Later during 2013 the ‘AF Press’ service will become available to all passengers.
Air France Hop!
On a similar note, passengers on Air France’s new regional carrier, HOP! (which launched on March 31, 2013), have been able to download – on the day of their trip – the digital version of their local daily newspaper, as well as the local newspaper of another city of their choice. Sixty regional daily newspapers – with a total of 420 different editions – are available. Passengers who are travelling on more expensive ‘Maxi Flex’ tickets can use the service free of charge, while those with cheaper tickets have to pay a fee. At boarding, a selection of local newspapers is still be available in print for all passengers.
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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
22 March 2013 | Airlines around the world are responding to the explosion in passenger use of smartphones, notebooks, tablets and e-readers by introducing onboard Wi-Fi and/or wireless inflight entertainment systems. The result is the emergence of an alternative eco-system to today’s traditional seatback-based IFE systems, which sees tech-savvy passengers bring their own digital devices – or airlines providing them with tablets.
However, the idea behind new IFE offerings such as wireless IFE remains the same. That is passengers are able to access entertainment content only when up in the air (although passengers who purchased movies and TV shows through wireless IFE providers such as Gogo Connect and Lufthansa’s BoardConnect can continue to view the content when they have landed – for 24 (movies) and 72 hours (TV shows) respectively.
Airport News Japan now reports that Japanese low-cost carrier Peach, a joint venture between All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Hong Kong-based First Eastern Investment Group, has come up with another innovative twist on in-flight entertainment.
With support from Osaka’s Kansai International Airport, Peach passengers will soon be able to download movies, TV shows, music, magazines, games or other content to their personal devices through the airport terminal’s Wi-Fi network, which they can enjoy without limitation while in the airport or on their flight.
There will be around 30 titles available during the initial trial period and the new service will be fully up and running in June, when it will offer over 1,000 titles comprising free and pay-to-download content. To access the ‘high!” inflight entertainment content, passengers have to download an Apple iOS or Google Android app (pending for approval at the moment). Compatibility with Windows 8 is planned for a later date.
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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
18 March 2013 | KLM is known for its embrace of digital technology. The airline is a leader in social media and in the past years has launched a series of specific mobile apps, such as a ‘Passport’ app, which lets users record their journeys with their mobile phone and share their experiences via Facebook.
KLM’s latest mobile app allows the airline’s passengers to give real-time feedback on how they perceived their experience at the airport (e.g, check-in, lounge, boarding, arrival).
The option to provide direct feedback about the quality of service at airports isn’t entirely new. Singapore Changi, for example, has installed an instant feedback system that lets airport users rate service on the spot. The airport uses the real-time feedback to address issues immediately and to reward employees for good service. Travellers at Phoenix International Airport, meanwhile, can rate the cleanliness of the toilets by scanning a QR code.
KLM’s Feedback app, however, marks the first such initiative by an airline. According to the carrier, the objective of the Feedback app is to increase passenger involvement during the ground stage of their journey in order to improve the passenger experience at the airport.
How it works
After downloading the app, which is available for both Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, passengers first choose the airport they are currently at (13 airports are supported at the moment: Amsterdam, Accra, Almaty, Athens, Cape Town, Curacao, Geneva, Jakarta, Kuwait, Singapore, Tokyo, Toronto and Vancouver) and then choose the area (check-in, lounge, boarding, arrival) and sub-area they want to rate.
The rating consists of simply tapping a ‘Thumps Up’ or ‘Thumbs Down’ button, but passengers can also specify their rating with a comment. Interestingly, the app also allows for the feedback to be published on Twitter at the same moment. Pasengers can rate each sub-area once a day and can also view how other passengers rated this area within the last 24 hours.
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.
Says Gerard-Pieter de Haas, Director CRM at KLM, “Our staff is very excited about the feedback app as it helps them to take immediately corrective action and recover the required service levels for each touch point. Moreover, we can capture this experience and relay to other touch points – like Check-in, Lounge, Transfer or even Inflight – so staff can take immediate action if needed. This fully fits our CRM-vision of ‘connecting the dots’ and really puts the customer in the center of our attention.”
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9 November 2012 | Getting up on time can be a challenge, but numerous variations on the alarm clock theme are aiming to make it easier. Now a mobile app launched earlier this year by Lufthansa adds a different twist altogether. Specifically, users of Lufthansa’s free Anywake app are awoken to the sounds of a random city — if they guess which one it is, they’re rewarded with discounted tickets to that destination.
After downloading the app — which was created for Germany-based Lufthansa by ad agency DDB Stockholm and Monterosa — users begin by selecting a standard wake-up sound, which will then wake them up each day. Every other morning or so, the app will wake the user to the sounds of a randomly selected city instead. To turn off the alarm, they must guess which city it is — if they’re right, they get rewarded with a discount for airfare to that city. This video explains the premise in more detail.
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By Brian Pillsbury, airlinetrends.com
15 October 2012 | Keeping in tune with the evolving technology habits and preferences of the “always-connected traveller” that make up an ever-increasing portion of the flying public, a number of airlines from around the globe have rolled out mobile boarding passes that are compatible with Apple’s new Passbook functionality.
Rolled out in mid-September with the new iPhone 5 and iOS6 operating system, Apple’s new Passbook feature is a ‘digital wallet’ capable of storing boarding passes, movie tickets and membership cards. Passbook is designed to centralize the storage and accessibility of these items from a single program managed directly built into the operating system (OS), which eliminates the need for the user to drill into individual apps (or e-mails) to find the relevant pass or coupon for the situation or transaction. Passbook is supported by iPhones dating back to iPhone 3GS.
Apple has created a number of templates that allow developers to quickly and easily create passes for integration into Passbook. Thanks to the ability of Passbook to use time and geographic location triggers, users see their boarding pass appear on the lock screen at the appropriate times and locations. For an airline passenger, this would mean that upon arrival at the airport, a clean, bright image of their their boarding pass will appear on the screen and can be updated to include such things as a gate change or a change to seat assignment.
As for other possible uses of Passbook, the functionality may provide better avenues for airlines to better proactively manage and disseminate timely information to flyers, such as pushing suggested rebooking options, updated baggage tracking information or certain types of reimbursement vouchers or storing coupons for ancillary services such as premium lounge access.
Airlines and Passbook
Eight airlines have adopted Passbook sofar, and it is expected that many others will follow suit as Passbook achieves growing consumer acceptance and use.
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By Shashank Nigam, SimpliFlying
8 August 2012 | The Olympic fever is gripping sports fans the world over. Tapping on the trend of real-world engagement through social media, which we highlighted in SimpliFlying’s recent webinar, Turkish Airlines has transformed national flags into QR codes and then placed them on digital bus shelters all over London to engage Olympic fans.
Working with their agency, McCann, Turkish Airlines has also added a little gamification on top of it by turning it to a London scavenger hunt. Those who find and scan the QR Code with their mobile phone automatically “check-in” to that flag via the mobile site. To win a ticket to one of Turkish Airlines’ 200 destinations, all one has to do is be the participant with most check-ins. Those familiar with location based tools like Foursquare would find this a breeze.
Of course, the underlying aim here is to co-relate the number of diverse countries represented at the Olympics to Turkish Airlines’ own diverse destinations. Even if a person doesn’t win a ticket, at least he or she knows Turkish Airlines flights to the particular destination on the bar code.
In the mobile site, users can see the closest bus shelters, learn their check-in data and general stats. This video shows the QR Flags campaign in action at a bus stop in London.
By Shubhodeep Pal, SimpliFlying
10 July 2012 | Lufthansa’s “Blue Legends” Facebook app is one of the first ten “Connected Apps” to be offered as a product of Foursquare‘s new development platform. In a nutshell, Foursquare now allows developers to create apps that offer customized experiences to customers based on their check-ins.
Lufthansa has seized this new opportunity in the Foursquare eco system to create official Lufthansa venues (including over 9,000 flights named in the format “Lufthansa Flight LH 400″) where users can check-in virtually to get special badges, ranks and rewards.
For instance, once connected with Foursquare and Facebook, you can earn badges such as the “Early-Bird-badge” by checking in before 6 in the morning. There are more virtual goodies as you fly more on Lufthansa (and, of course, remember to check-in to their official locations).
One of the undeniably attractive features of the app is that its written in HTML5 which allows it to be accessed from almost every platform – desktop and mobile – with ease, without being confined to a closed app ecosystem (such as iOS or Android).
An increasingly “gamified” and location-aware world
As you move up the ladder, you’ll find that the badges and ranks (similar to mayorships) are increasingly targeted towards frequent flyers. Lufthansa believes that this customized experience by offering special virtual badges in recognition for flying the airline will “open a whole new dimension of social travel experience for frequent flyers who can not only track their countries and airports they’ve visited with the app but can compete with their friends to become the “Expert Pilot” on a route between two cities.” This rank is given to the person who has travelled most between two destinations – independent from the Lufthansa flight he took or airport of the city he travelled to.
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7 February 2012 | KLM today has launched a ‘Meet & Seat’ scheme which encourages passengers to pick seatmates by checking out social media profiles of fellow passengers who link to their profiles during check-in. The idea is that flyers will be able to find out about interesting people who will be on board their KLM flight, for example other passengers attending the same event at the destination. The ‘social seating’ feature has been launched on flights between Amsterdam and San Francisco, Sao Paolo and New York City with plans to extend it to other intercontinental destinations shortly.
Although the idea of the ‘social flight’ in itself is not entirely new – it was coined by digital media guru Jeff Jarvis a few years ago, while airlines such as Malaysia Airlines and Estonian Air have experimented with the concept – KLM’s new ‘Meet & Seat’ tool takes the idea of ‘social seating’ a step further, as until now social media users could only connect with their friends before a flight, while KLM allows anyone to connect with anyone.
KLM says it is trying to give travellers a more “inspirational journey” with the service enabling them to see who is on the flight, perhaps meet for a coffee beforehand, select seats next to each other or share a taxi at the other end. The tool will be opt-in only, to allow the many travellers who view flight time as private time.
How it works
Passengers who have booked a KLM flight from Amsterdam to New York, San Francisco or Sao Paulo (or back), can go to KLM.com and log in to the ‘Manage my Booking’ section. They then go to the ‘Seating’ tab, click ‘Meet & Seat’ and connect their social profiles with their booking by logging in to their Facebook or LinkedIn account.
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25 September 2011 | Besides the growing number of airlines that are rolling out (or about to roll out) broadband Internet on their aircraft (e.g, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, SAS, Norwegian, Virgin Atlantic), these days the buzz in in-flight entertainment is all about bringing media tablets such as the iPad into the cabin (e.g, Jetstar) and/or installing wireless IFE systems (e.g, American Airlines and Gol).
Further upping the ante, Virgin America – probably the most tech-embracing airline in the world – has announced it will roll out what it calls a “hybrid IFE&C platform.” Besides offering entertainment via embedded, seat-centric screens, the airline will also offer passengers wi-fi connectivity through their seatback system and their own personal devices, as well as offer wireless access to content stored on an onboard server.
Virgin America has selected Lufthansa Systems’ new BoardConnect platform for the next iteration of its Red in-flight entertainment and communications (IFE&C) platform. The new Red system, slated for a late 2012 release, includes larger, high-definition touchscreen seatback monitors, full wi-fi connectivity and four times more entertainment content. It will also allow passengers to connect their own electronic devices to the system pre-flight, in-flight and post-flight. “For example, if a passenger did not finish watching a film or TV show in-flight, they could save and download to their iPod and finish at their hotel,” said Abby Lunardini, VP of corporate communications for Virgin America.
Virgin America’s CEO David Cush said the system will allow the airline to offer passengers “the best of both worlds.” “Just offering a larger wi-fi pipe with no seatback entertainment as some of our competitors are doing is limiting given wi-fi bandwidth,” Cush said. “We want to give our travelers more options instead of fewer, including the ability to multitask across platforms – just as they do in their lives on the ground.” […] “Our focus on innovation is a core part of our business model and guest offering, and BoardConnect will allow us to […] pace the larger consumer trends in mobile technology.” Adds Virgin America’s Lunardini “This is a significant investment for us. “We want to stay ahead of the path … a lot of people fly with us because it. We’re an entertainment-driven brand.”
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8 August 2011 | Updated December 2011
The iPad, which began primarily as an entertainment device when it was launched in 2010, has captured the imagination of many other industries in ways that Apple never even imagined. We have reported several times on airlinetrends.com how airlines have made Apple’s versatile iPad device available to passengers in their lounges, rent them out in the air, or use them as self-service kiosk, customer survey tool, and food ordering tool. As the list of applications continues to grow, here is the latest overview of how airlines and airports are deploying the iPad worldwide.
1. Book, check-in
Cathay Pacific in July 2010 became the first airline to launch a dedicated application for the Apple iPad that lets users book Cathay Pacific flights, manage their flight booking, check the status of their flight, and check-in. Similar apps are today offered by American Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, THAI, and Alitalia.
In June 2010, Malaysia Airlines, in cooperation with SITA, introduced the world’s first airline kiosk that uses the iPad. Passengers can use the ‘MHkiosk’ to search and book flights and check-in online. The kiosks are installed at the airline’s ticket office at Kuala Lumpur’s central station.
2. Airport service
Spanish airline Iberia has equipped customer service staff at its Madrid-Barajas hub with iPads to provide them with real-time access to the information they need to make decisions and to keep passengers informed. Iberia’s so-called IBPad is loaded with 30 different applications which, according to the airline, together put the entire airport in the palm of the employee’s hand. Iberia says the IBPad has improved everyday operations and dealings with customers, boosting communications and staff decision-making autonomy, while eliminating the use of paper.
Since March 2011, so-called Changi Experience Agents (CEAs) have been walking the grounds at Singapore Changi Airport, assisting passengers with special needs, and helping passengers with wayfinding at the airport. Locating missing luggage, facilitating passengers with check-in needs and assisting transit or transfer passengers with their onward connections also form part of the CEAs’ duties. Each CEA is equipped with an iPad with which they can retrieve information, such as the latest flight updates, store location, check-in gates, etcetera. The CEAs are on duty all day except from 1am – 6am when passenger traffic is low.
3. Airport lounge
To keep passengers entertained whilst waiting for their flight, several airlines have made iPads available in their lounges. Since July 2010, KLM offers 8 iPads in each of its two lounges at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Lounge guests can use the device to access the Internet, watch content from the airlines’s IFE programming, play games, view KLM images and use a series of pre-installed apps. Cathay Pacific, meanwhile, offers 21 Wi-Fi enabled iPads in its ‘The Cabin’ lounge, which opened in early October 2010. The devices come pre-loaded with apps such as newspapers, magazines and games. Other airlines, such as ANA and airBaltic, also make iPads available upon request to lounge guests at respectively Tokyo Haneda and Riga. Read full article »
18 May 2011 | With the demise of complimentary in-flight catering on most domestic flights in the U.S., airlines have been facing increased competition from airport restaurants and take-away kiosks, as food and beverages are often cheaper and more varied on the ground.
HMSHost ‘B4 You Board’
To help travellers get from the airport entrance to the gate without having to worry whether or not there is time to grab a bite to eat along the way (as for example security lines may be longer than expected), airport food and beverage provider HMSHost has launched a mobile app that allows passengers at New York JFK Airport to order and pay for a meal using their iPhone. Their order is then either delivered at the departure gate or passengers can pick it up from a dedicated B4 You Board kiosk within 20 minutes.
As HMSHost puts it: “Think about it, you’re standing in line at JFK waiting to go through security and you’re not sure you’ll have time to pick up dinner before boarding your flight. However, if you have the B4 You Board app, you can order your meal and pick it up on the airside, or you can opt to have it delivered directly to your gate. Problem solved.”
The B4 You Board app can be downloaded free of charge from iTunes and an Android version is coming this summer. The pre-order service is currently being piloted at New York JFK’s (Delta) Terminal 3 from 12 noon to 8pm and HMS Host says it plans to expand the concept to Minneapolis-St. Paul and Sacramento airports by the end of 2011.
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29 April 2011 | In recent years, airlines have been experimenting with a wide range of non-traditional distribution channels, a development dubbed ‘Pricing Pandemonium’ by trendwatching.com. Examples include flash sales, happy hours, Facebook and Twitter-only fares, eBay and reverse auctions, as well as vouchers offered for sale in supermarkets and newspaper kiosks.
Airlines are using these new platforms to temporarily offer heavy discounts without disturbing their main distribution channels. However, after initial experiments, some airlines also have made some of these new channels a more mainstream feature. For example, Tnooz reports that Air New Zealand has recently turned its popular reverse auction into an always-on service. ANZ’s ‘GrabASeat’ auction originally launched around three years ago and was only used ad-hoc to shift seats on specific occasions. However, as it did attract a reasonable following, the airline now offers a ticket deal through reverse auction every 15 minutes, 24 hours a day.
The latest online phenomenon that has caught the eye of airlines is Groupon, a web site and e-mail service that offers extremely discounted deals only if enough people sign up. Subscribers must first pay for a Groupon (‘group coupon’) that unlocks the deal. Typical offers include discounted hotel stays, spa treatments and restaurants and Groupon makes money by keeping approximately half the money the customer pays for the coupon. Groupon rapidly became hugely popular and is credited for making virtual coupon-clipping exciting by having offers expire after just a few hours and cancelling them if they do not attract a minimum number of buyers.
Launched in November 2008, Groupon already had over 50 million subscribers worldwide by the end of 2010 and in December 2010 turned down an USD 6 billion takeover bid by Google. Meanwhile, Groupon’s success has attracted numerous competitors, including Facebook, which has just started a similar service called ‘Deals on Facebook’.
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26 April 2011 | Online tracking and tracing of packages shipped via parcel delivery companies such as FedEx and DHL has been possible for years, and has even spread to services like pizza delivery. For example, Domino’s Pizza ‘Pizza Tracker’ lets customers track their pizza from the moment they place the order until it leaves the kichen en route to them. Examples from the airline industry include Yapta, which offers alerts when fares drop for specific flights or hotels, and FlightStats, which notifies passengers on flight delays and cancellations. Says consumer trends agency trendwatching.com: “Tracking and alerting is the new searching, as it saves consumers time, makes it impossible to forget or miss out, and thus ultimately gives them yet another level of control.”
Delta checked bags tracking
In a move to make the baggage process more transparent for customers, Delta Air Lines is now bringing ‘tracking and alerting’ to checked luggage. The airline has just launched a new ‘Track Checked Bags’ service in order to give passengers a sense of confidence that their luggage has made it to the same aircraft. As Delta scans the bag tags during each part of the journey, passengers can track their baggage in real-time as it makes its way through the Delta system. Available for domestic flights, Delta passengers can go online – for example via their smartphone – to track their checked baggage with the bag tag number that they received at the time of baggage check-in.
Furthermore, as Delta has equipped all its 549 mainline domestic aircraft with GoGo’s in-flight Internet – and is currently installing the service on 223 Delta Connection jets as well – passengers may even check up in the air whether their bag has made it on their flight.
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11 April 2011 | Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has just launched two interesting media initiatives that are an indication where the publication business of airlines is heading to. The airline is making its ‘crewsourced’ city guide available as a free app for mobile phones and has launched a new lifestyle magazine that is also available for sale at newsstands and bookstores.
SAS Crew Guide app
The annual ‘SAS Crew Guide’ is a pocket-sized guidebook consisting of recommendations by SAS cabin crew and pilots for accommodation, shopping, dining, sightseeing and nightlife in many of the cities served by SAS. In the airline’s words: “When you’re visiting a new city, surely the best person to show you around is someone who visits regularly. And who’d be better travelled than airline crew?” The 350-pages guide also contains 13 personal profiles by individual crew members and their favourite cities and is sold online for EUR15 (or 4,410 SAS Bonuspoints) as well as in select bookshops in Scandinavia, the UK and the U.S.
With the launch of its first direct flight from Oslo to New York at the end of March 2011, SAS decides to also launch a mobile app of the New York section of its Crew Guide city guide. The SAS ‘Crew Guide app for New York’ is based on the SAS Crew Guide and features guides to five of New York’s most interesting areas as well as personal profiles of the crew that contributed to the New York edition. All the content (except the map) is downloaded to the phone once the application is installed, so users don’t have to worry about roaming charges when travelling.
5 April 2011 | Launched by three Estonian software developers in 2003, Skype allows users to make voice calls over the Internet free of charge. At the end of 2010 the popular service had over 660 million registered users worldwide. To showcase Estonia’s (one of the three Baltic states) high-tech capabilities, the world’s first Skype ‘video telephony booth’ was recently unveiled at Tallinn Airport in Estonia, enabling travellers to make free worldwide video calls to other Skype users.
The Skype video booth is a collaboration between Enterprise Estonia, which promotes Estonian companies abroad and Estonian ad agencies AdTech and Brilliant. Says Enterprise Estonia communications coordinator Merilin Pärli, “Skype was an idea that was developed in Estonia, and the company still has a development unit in Tallinn, so it was quite logical that the initial home of Skype would have a Skype station at Tallinn airport – as one Skype station says more than 1,000 words about Estonia.”
The Skype video booth can be used by anybody who has a Skype account and those who have purchased Skype credit can also call regular telephone numbers. When a user steps on the floor of the station, the color of the futuristic-looking booth changes from blue to green signalling that he or she can log on. Inside the booth is a 22-inch touchscreen and a headset (alternatively, users can connect their own headseat as well), and after logging in, users can dial their friends and family. If the receiving end also has got a camera installed, then the service works just like an ordinary video call. To log off all one has to do is to step out of the booth.
With the first Skype video booth now in place, AdTech, who designed the booth, says it wants to bring the service to other airports, hotels, cruise ships, hospitals and shopping malls around the world, extending Skype’s service beyond computers and mobile phones to dedicated physical devices. The cost of a video booth is reportedly around 4,000 euros (USD5,600) and AdTech is also working on several new prototypes.
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