Google Flights includes CO2 emission in flight search listings

This article earlier appeared as Innovation of the Day on TrendWatching

For anyone who needs or wants to travel fast and far, flying is still the way to go. While consumers increasingly feel at least a twinge of flygskam before booking a flight, desire and necessity mean air travel won’t disappear. And for mass travel, that currently still means fossil-fueled planes.

So there’s every reason to help people turn their environmental awareness into actions that lower their carbon footprint. And narrowing down options to the least environmentally harmful option has the added appeal of sidestepping choice overload.

Google Flights
Google Flights earlier this month announced it now includes estimated CO2 emissions in flight search results and on booking pages. In addition to sorting by price or duration, users can now sort by emission, and if trains are an option on their selected route, Google shows those as well.

James Byers, a senior product manager on the Google travel team, said the emissions estimates are based on a combination of factors, such as the distance of a trip, the number of stops, the number and class of seats on board, the type of aircraft, and data from the European Environment Agency.

Any options with “significantly lower” carbon emissions will be given a green badge that you’ll spot when searching Google Flights. You can also sort by the carbon emissions to work out which is the greenest airline or flight available to you.

It turns out other brilliant minds were working on this, too. Created by Good Caesar — ‘a design and technology studio with an affinity for maps and aviation’ — Lite.Flights uses data from frequently updated search results and aims to add more destinations over time. It isn’t currently connected to a booking engine. Read full article »

Chinese LCC Spring Airlines trials faster boarding procedure using fruit signs

Spring Airlines_Fruit signs boarding_680x393

By Raymond Kollau,

We have reported several times before how airlines target the rapidly growing middle classes in emerging markets in innovative ways. For example, in Brazil TAM sells tickets via kiosks located at low-end retail chains and at subway stations. The airline also allows customers to pay their ticket in multiple installments and provides ‘how to fly’ advice to first-time flyers.

In East Africa, airlines such as Kenya Airways and Uganda Airlines have partnered with ‘mobile money’ providers like M-PESA and Airtel Money to allow people without a bank account to purchase air tickets via their mobile phone, while in the Philippines, Phillipine Airlines lets customers without a credit card book their ticket online and then pay at a nearby 7 Eleven store.

First-time flyers
Another airline that has come up with creative ideas to accommodate the large group of first-time flyers is Chinese low-cost carrier Spring Airlines.

Spring Airlines has trialled a new boarding strategy by using fruit signs to guide passengers – especially those who travel by air for the first time – as seat numbers can be hard to find and can be confusing for those who have little experience in travelling by air.

During the Chinese New Year travel season Spring Airlines was expecting a large number of novice passengers and the airline used a visual solution to help passengers find their seats more quickly and and ease congestion in the aisles.

On February 11, passengers on flight 9C8881 between Shanghai and Shenzhen found 4 different fruit signs printed on their boarding passes which corresponded to the seats in four sections – rows 1-2 (blueberry), rows 3-12 (kiwi), rows 13-21 (apple) and rows 22-33 (tangerine). Read full article »

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

By Raymond Kollau,

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.

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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Marriott opens TelePresence meeting rooms for rent by the hour

Cisco’s TelePresence system is a life-like high-definition conferencing facility that allows participants to meet eachother across a virtual table. To enhance the feeling of being in the same room, participants’ eyes are at the same level and the walls are often painted the same color. Cisco claims that its TelePresence system comes closer to the face-to-face experience that other solutions have been lacking sofar. Until recently, a private Cisco TelePresence system was only available to businesses at prices ranging from USD 34,000 for a simple set to USD 300,000 for a full-blown system capable of hosting 18 persons. 

Cisco says that currenty more than 3,500 TelePresence systems have been installed worldwide by more than 500 companies, and by introducing public TelePresence rooms for rent, Cisco aims to broaden the use of its technology. Since 2008, Tata Communications has operated such public rooms in London and Boston as well as at 5 locations in India in partnership with Taj Hotels and the Confederation of Indian Industry.
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ANA to monetize business class perks with ‘MyChoice’ program


All Nippon Airways (ANA) has introduced a new ancillary revenue program, called ‘MyChoice’. The idea behind ‘ANA My Choice’ is to offer Economy passengers paid access to services that were previously only available to business class passengers. The program starts on December 1 with a limited number of paid-for services and ANA says it will introduce more services during 2010. 

On the ground, ANA Economy passengers can purchase access to ANA’s airport lounge at Haneda for JP¥5,000 (USD55/EUR40).The introductory fee until the end of January 2010 is 4,000 yen. On board, light Business Class meals, such as a rice ball and miso soup set, are available for sale to Economy passengers for JP¥500 (USD5.50/EUR4) until the end of January, then the regular fee is 700 yen. Also, business classs wines and shochu (a strong liquor) will be sold for the introductory price of JP¥800 (USD9/EUR6) per glass (regular fee is 1,000 yen).
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