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.

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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Turkish Airlines opens branded lounge at Borussia Dortmund soccer stadium

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This branded sports lounge case appears in the February 2014 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by airlinetrends.com and Simpliflying, which identifies the latest innovative marketing capaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »

Besides increasing the floor space of its already enormous departure lounge at Istanbul Ataturk Airport in order to accommodate for the rapid growth of transfer passengers, Turkish Airlines is also using its signature lounge design as a way to add an experiential touch to its sponsorship of German top soccer team Borussia Dortmund.

Turkish Airlines in December last year opened a new branded VIP lounge at Signal Iduna Park, home of German top soccer team Borussia Dortmund. The 430sqm ‘Lounge Dortmund’ can seat up to 200 of the football club’s spectator-box guests and business partners, and has been designed to reflect the atmosphere of the airline’s International CIP Lounge at Istanbul Atatürk Airport, featuring spanning arches and rich colour palettes.

As well as comfortable seating areas, guests are provided with an array of food and drink, which include a selection of Turkish desserts, coffees and traditional Turkish tea, served by staff wearing the Turkish Airlines cabin crew uniform, reinforcing the airline experience at the stadium.

Faruk Çizmecioğlu, Chief Marketing Officer of Turkish Airlines, commented on the opening: “With the new Turkish Airlines Lounge we are creating a visible sign of our involvement with the club, right in the stadium.”
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Airports and airlines look at other industries for ideas to speed up security and boarding

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Airlines are increasingly looking at other industries such as retail, hospitality and automotive for best practices in order to improve areas such as service delivery, seating comfort, and merchandising of ancillaries. See this recent presentation we gave at the Passenger Experience Conference in Hamburg for examples of airlines ‘looking sideways’.

On the ground, two of the major airport bottlenecks are the security and boarding processes. Recently airports such as Pittsburgh International and Montreal Trudeau, as well as Dutch national carrier KLM, have come up with low-tech innovations that have been inspired by other industries that also are trying to minimize customer waiting times.

SUPERMARKETS: Pittsburg Airport ‘Fast Lane’
Since the fall of 2011, Pittsburgh International Airport offers an express security checkpoint lane dedicated exclusively to passengers travelling with only one carry-on bag (including purses, briefcases and computer cases). Jackets do not count as an extra item, but any other additional item requires passengers to use the regular security lines. The Pittsburgh-only program has the approval of the TSA who is staffing the express lane.

“It’s sort of like the supermarket where you go through the 12-items-or-less line,” Pittsburgh Airport spokeswoman JoAnn Jenny said. “But there will be someone there to count so you can’t sneak into the line like you can do at the supermarket.”

Pittsburgh International hopes the express lane will get more people thinking about packing light, saying that “The Express Lane is a way to streamline the wait at the checkpoint for those who pack light and fit it all in one bag. The move comes as a result of more people carrying more items through the checkpoint to avoid airline bag fees.”

THEME PARKS: Montreal Airport ‘SecurXpress Online’
Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport recently launched a new online service, called SecurXpress, that allows passengers to be assigned a time slot to pass through security screening, rather than queuing up at a random time. To use the service, passengers enter their cellphone number and flight information in a form on the airport’s website and then are texted a time to show up at the security screening point.

“The system is free to the general public and a bit like the Disney FASTPASS system,” said Francois-Nicola Asselin, spokesman for Aéroports de Montréal, referring to the theme park’s program that lets guests return to a crowded ride at a specific time. “It was imagined through a brainstorming session to improve customer service.”

The SecurXpress service is currently available at Montreal Trudeau only for those traveling within Canada and, because of preclearance requirements, on non-U.S. bound international flights.

As the process of boarding an aircraft is inefficient, with having to wait in line at the gate, other passengers blocking the aisle onboard, and having to stand up again for passengers with a window seat, many airlines have been looking for alternative procedures to optimize boarding, especially since a faster boarding process also speeds up aircraft turnaround times, reducing the time that aircraft need to spend on the ground.

KLM has recently introduced a faster and more convenient boarding process, called ‘Smart Boarding’ which sees passengers being issued with a boarding number at the gate, which is based on his/her seat position onboard the aircraft. When boarding starts, the numbers are displayed one by one at five-second intervals on monitors at the gate, allowing only one person at a time to board the plane.
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Air France latest airline to let passenger print their own baggage labels

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

As part of the ongoing trend to let passengers do the pre-flight work themselves, such as flight booking, check-in, luggage check-in, passport control and boarding – as well as to shift as much of the flight preparation to passengers at home and/or office (and save time and stress at the airport) – Air France has become the second airline (following Iberia’s introduction in July 2013) to let passengers print their own luggage tags.

The option to print a baggage tag at home is currently available in France only and throughout 2014 the service will be introduced around the world.

How it works
After having checked in online at airfrance.com, passengers can print their baggage tag on a standard A4 sheet of paper up to 30 hours before their flight. They then fold the paper in four and insert the printed sheet in a reusable plastic tag holder which is available at the airport, attach the tag holder to their bag and leave it at Air France’s EXPRESS baggage drop-off counter starting from two hours before their flight departs. Passengers departing from Paris-Orly or Nice airports can drop their bags at the self-service baggage drop-off counter by scanning their boarding pass and placing their bags on the baggage belt.

Digital bag tag
Air France’s ‘print your lugagge tag at home’ service is a likely first step towards the introduction of a digital bag tag in the future.

In the second half of 2013, British Airways has tested an electronic baggage tag which removes the need for a new paper tag each time a traveller flies. Passengers could update the digital suitcase tag to display their flight information by holding their smartphone over the tag after they have checked in. BA has tested 100 prototypes of the device on corporate flights between London Heathrow T5 and Seattle in a month-long trial during August 2013.
Read full article »

Virgin Galactic wants to take long-haul air travel above the atmosphere

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This article was previously published on Future Travel Experience

By Ryan Ghee, Future Travel Experience

Over the next year or so, commercial travel will be revolutionised when Virgin Galactic launches the first ever space tourism flight, which has so far been nine years in the making. While it is initially only available to those rich enough to afford a USD 250,000 ticket, the company is keen to bring space travel to the masses and aims to offer a passenger experience far exceeding anything that has been offered before.

Ranging from the flight preparations that all passengers – or astronauts – must undertake, to the geography lesson they receive to allow them to fully appreciate the spectacular sights, to the design of the spaceship interior, every aspect of the customer journey has been intricately planned to ensure it exceeds all expectations. “Unlike commercial air travel, the flight is the experience,” Stephen Attenborough, Virgin Galactic’s Commercial Director, told Future Travel Experience. “It’s a much more intense and uplifting experience.”

Preparing for the space travel experience
While air travellers often arrive at an airport unsure of what to do or where to go, the experience for the first batch of commercial space tourists will be very different. Attenborough said: “We spend three days with the future astronauts in New Mexico before the flight to prepare them for the sensory overload, free them from any anxiety, and make sure they are well informed, safe and ready to enjoy the flight.”

Before take-off, there will be no long queues or last-minute checks, just a journey down a long escalator and a walk through a friends and family area, before taking a seat on the groundbreaking SpaceShipTwo. The flight itself will be like something from a Hollywood movie. After a calm take-off and a cruise up to 50,000 feet, the spaceship will be released from its carrier and, according to Attenborough, “the astronaut presses a button and everything changes very quickly.” Read full article »

Best airline product and service innovations of 2013

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

3. British Airways to trial electronic baggage tag

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The best cabin interior launches of premium airlines and hybrid LCCs in 2013

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Passenger expectations continue to be raised by the cabin interior upgrade programs launched by airlines around the world, which sees them introducing more innovative or luxurious products and services, be it private suites in First Class, full-flat beds in Business, or the latest in in-flight entertainment and connectivity. Initially the upgraded product (and/or service) differentiates the airline from its competitors (as airline upgrade programs are out of sync with eachother), who then over the course of several years start matching – and often leapfrogging – the new standard, thereby initiating another ‘creative destruction’ cycle.

Shorter product cycles
Meanwhile, just like in other industries, these product cycles have become shorter. Witness the ‘fast fashion’ revolution created by H&M and Zara in the clothing industry. As Air New Zealand’s general manager international Ed Sims observed when the airline introduced its redesigned cabins a few years ago: “There was a time when airlines in our position could imagine six to seven years between product refurbishments, these days customers are so impatient for new developments that we think, realistically, that product cycles should be closer to three to fours years.”

New materials
At the same time, airlines have more ways than ever to differentiate their cabins as the cabin interior industry has made huge advances in the development of materials that look stunning and pass all regulations, although there still is a more formidable task left though of convincing top management to bring more ‘wow’ into the cabin.

Cabin interior launches in 2013
Written by the experts at TheDesignair, we have selected three of the best examples of how premium airlines have continued to raise the bar this year, with the likes of Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Emirates setting new standards in Business and First. At the same time, (hybrid) low-cost carriers are launching their own ‘smart’ Business Class cabins as part of their efforts to target the lucrative business traveller segment.


1. Singapore Airlines further upgrades its cabins

Investing nearly USD150 million in a cross-cabin refresh, Singapore Airlines has unveiled its new First, Business and Economy class seats, as well as Panasonic latest eX3 IFE system. The new design in September made its debut on the airline’s new B777-300ERs flying the competitive Singapore-London route, and will also be rolled out on Singapore Airlines’ upcoming A350s. Read article »

2. Cathay Pacific revamps First Class with some nice touches

Cathay Pacific is ensuring its cabin products stay at the forefront of people’s minds. As the airline’s First Class suite wasn’t in need of a full redesign, the airline partnered with Foster + Partners, the same architectural company that designed Cathay’s ‘The Wing‘ lounge, to look at the suite and see how it could be refreshed. Read article »

3. Emirates new ‘Executive A319’ features private jet lounge and First Class suites

For travellers seeking a step up from First Class, Emirates’ new private jet service aims to raise the bar. Dubbed ‘Emirates Executive‘, the airline has transformed an Airbus A319 into a private jet that features a lounge with chairs, sofa and a table, 10 private First Class suites, and a shower – once only available on its A380s. Read article »


4. JetBlue unveils new ‘transcontinental’ A321 interior featuring private suites

JetBlue in 2014 will launch a new transcontinental service between New York JFK, LA and San Francisco, featuring the airline’s new ‘Mint’ Business Class, which is described as “a stylish service minus all of the stuffiness often associated with the traditional front-of-the-cabin experience.” Read article »

5. Japan’s Skymark goes Premium Economy-only on new A330s

Hybrid low-cost carrier Skymark, Japan’s third largest airline, aims to differentiate itself in the high yield domestic market from full service airlines ANA and JAL and LCCs such as Jetstar Japan and Peach with a Premium Economy-only A330 featuring 271 seats with legrests and a 38 inch pitch. Read article »

6. Low-cost carrier FlyDubai goes chic with new Business Class cabin

Dubai-based ‘no-frills chic’ carrier FlyDubai has added a separate Business Class with wider seats and more legroom to its cabin. The airline’s fleet of 737-800s already features Boeing’s new Sky Interior and a high-definition inflight entertainment system. Read article »

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Innovative airline marketing campaigns that stood out in 2013

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In order to connect and engage with ever more experienced, connected, and informed consumers, who routinely ignore the commercials and ads thrown at them, airlines around the world are becoming more sophisticated in their marketing activities and are finding new ways to break through the advertising clutter. As such, we are witnessing the birth of many creative campaigns from airlines, be it experiental, social, mobile, digital or traditional media initiatives.

Airline Marketing Benchmark Report
Airlinetrends.com and SimpliFlying have teamed to produce a premium monthly Airline Marketing Benchmark Report, which features the most innovative marketing campaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Each month’s report contains 15 new case-studies that inform and inspire airline marketers and creative agencies how other airlines are making a difference with their marketing-communication campaigns. So far, we have published 16 editions, reporting on over 200 airline case studies.

Clients that have subscribed to the monthly service include LAN, Turkish Airlines, Qantas, Etihad, AerLingus, Boeing and Google. Learn more »

Innovative campaigns in 2013
To recap 2013, we have selected half a dozen innovative marketing campaigns launched by airlines in the past year that in our opinion do a great job connecting with today’s mobile and connected consumers who are looking for engaging experiences.

1. Airlines embrace their inner tech-geek

One of the hardest marketing messages to convey is that you are current and understand the market, with Silicon Valley favourite Virgin America being one of the best examples. Recently, airlines such as Delta, American, and British Airways are embracing their inner-geek to stay ahead of the trend-curve and cleverly positioning themself as geek-chic, showing up at conferences such as TED and SXSW and originizing travel hackatons. Read article »

2. BA digital billboards interact with aircrafts flying overhead

BA has custom-fitted digital billboards with surveillance technology that detects and activates the billboards when the airline’s flights pass overhead. Located in in London, when the billboard ‘detects’ a BA flight flying below the clouds that is visible to passers by, a child starts running, pointing up to the sky – chasing the airplane. Read article »

3. AirBaltic’s BalticMiles app rewards frequent fliers for burned calories

BalticMiles’ new ‘Burn The Miles’ app offers rewards to frequent fliers who jog enough to burn off the same number of calories as miles they have flown. Passengers are challenged to match every mile they fly with a calorie burned in the space of 24 hours after they land, tracked using the smartphone’s built-in accelerometer. Read article »
Read full article »

Japan’s Skymark goes Premium Economy-only on new A330s


By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

Hybrid low-cost carrier Skymark - Japan’s third largest airline – turned heads in early 2011 when it announced an order for six A380 superjumbo’s which will feature only 394 seats in a premium two-class configuration: 114 angled lie-flat Business seatss on the upper deck and 280 ‘shell-style’ Premium Economy seats on the lower deck. Skymark will take delivery of its first A380 in August 2014 and plans to fly between Tokyo and New York as the first destination, possibly followed by London and Frankfurt.

Premium Economy-only A330
As part of Skymark’s ambitious expansion plan, the Tokyo Haneda-based airline also executed leases for seven A330-300 aircraft in July 2012, with delivery scheduled from early 2014 through 2015.

Skymark’s new A330s are outfitted in a 271-seat single-class Premium Economyy configuration with a 38-inch seat pitch and 19.3-inch seat width, called ‘Green Seats’ (after the more spacious seats offered in the ‘Green Car’ on Japan’s high-speed rail), which are comparable to the domestic ‘Class J’ product of Japan Airlines.

Skymark will deploy its Premium Economy-only A330 widebodies on key domestic trunk routes from Tokyo to Fukuoka and Sapporo to win market share among business travellers. The first route is due to be Tokyo Haneda-Fukuoka at the end of March 2014, which is Skymark’s busiest route based on available seats, and Japan’s second and the world’s third busiest air route.

Cabin interior
In mid-December, Skymark reveiled its new A330-300 interior at Airbus in Toulouse and we caught up with Daniel Baron, founder of  Tokyo-based design agency LIFT Strategic Design who have been responsible for cabin styling and seat trim and finish, consulting on layout, seats and galleys. LIFT Design is also working with Skymark on the A380 cabin and seat design.

Skymark’s all-Premium Economy product features a 2 x 3 x 2 seating arrangement (compared with a regular 2 x 4 x 2 configuration for Economy on the A330). Each seat has 38 inches of legroom, which is long-haul standard for premium economy, and the 271 seats also feature leg rests – not just the front row like Cathay Pacific offers – meaning passenger’s legs are supported for the few hours they are onboard. There will be no inflight entertainment, but the airline says it is looking into inflight connectivity.

The cabin has been designed to represent a “casual urban cafe with the embracing freshness of a forest in Spring”. Whilst we can’t fully understand what that is supposed to impart, the finished product is airy, refreshing and light. A light fresh green is predominant here, matched with neutral putty finishes, providing a calm and serene environment. We like the trims of birch wooden veneer, found on the on the seat tables and golden walnut veneer in the lavatory flooring.
Read full article »

Delta pops up in central Tokyo with ‘Flight Therapy’ brand space

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Special thanks to Daniel Baron, LIFT Strategic Design
for spotting the Delta ‘Flight Therapy’ brand space

In order to connect and engage with ever more experienced, connected, and informed consumers, who routinely ignore the commercials and ads thrown at them, airlines around the world are becoming more sophisticated in their marketing activities and are finding new ways to break through the advertising clutter. As such, we are witnessing the birth of many creative campaigns from airlines, be it experiental, social, mobile, digital or traditional media initiatives.

Delta ‘Flight Therapy’
Delta Air Lines, possibly the most active airline when it comes to incorporate so-called ‘brand spaces’ such as its Sky360 Lounges, in its marketing mix, held a ‘Delta Flight Therapy’ sensory experience pop-up event in Otemachi, one of Tokyo’s business districts. The purpose-built space was set up in front of an office building between 23 and 25 October.

Inside, visitors could try out the fully flat bed installed in the airline’s business class on 747-400s. The Delta Flight Therapy module sported an organic, futuristic ambience, including mood lighting by Izumi Okayasu Lighting Design that changed dramatically in both color and intensity. Ambient background music was produced with Koone, a high resolution sound system developed by Victor Entertainment.

The pop-up space also gave visitors a chance to experience Arobalance, a relaxation aroma developed by Australian company Air Aroma. Each visitor received a sample of the fragrance.

Tokyo is a major hub for Delta, with daily flights to cities in the US and Asia.

Delta ‘Photon Shower’
Delta earlier this year also showcased its renewed focus on sleep at the annual TED conference. The airline hosted a talk from Oxford neuroscientist and sleep expert Dr. Russell Foster addressing jet lag and demonstrated his research in action with a so-called ‘Photon Shower’ – a small light chamber that conference attendees could enter for a short period of time to help reset their body clocks through a personalized light treatment.
Read full article »

BA digital billboards interact with aircrafts flying overhead

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This case appears in the December 2013 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by airlinetrends.com and Simpliflying, which identifies the latest innovative marketing capaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »

British Airways has worked with Ogilvy’s digital arm 12th Floor to custom-fit digital billboards with surveillance technology that detects and activates the billboards when the airline’s flights pass overhead.

Located in Piccadilly Circus and Chiswick in London, when the billboard ‘detects’ a BA flight flying below the clouds that is visible to passers by, a child starts running, pointing up to the sky – chasing the airplane. The billboard then updates to reflect the flight details, like “BA flight 475 from Barcelona”, along with a URL ba.com/lookup. Onlookers can then go online and view destination details and ultimately make a booking.

The flight messages are accompanied by other relevant messages to the flight, that will also help promote the points of difference the airline offers, such as ‘Fly the new A380 to Los Angeles. ba.com/lookup’, or details such as the lowest fare available or the temperature at the destination.

Abigail Comber, British Airways’ head of marketing, said: “This is a first, not just for British Airways but for UK advertising. We all know from conversations with friends and family that we wonder where the planes are going and dream of an amazing holiday or warm destination. The clever technology allows this advert to engage people there and then and answer that question for them. “We hope it will create a real ‘wow’ and people will be reminded how amazing flying is and how accessible the world can be.”

The online video of the billboards in action has now gone viral and has already amassed 750,000 in less than 10 days, becoming an advert in itself. It has been supported by a microsite and the hashtag #lookup.
Read full article »

Airlines encourage passengers to provide service feedback via apps and cards

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This article earlier appeared in Onboard Hospitality Magazine.
Download as pdf »

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.
Read full article »

Turkish Airlines lets start-ups pitch to Business Class passengers in-flight

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Istanbul’s startup sector, known as the ‘Digital Bosphorus’, is thriving. As Wired reports this month: “Along with this shifting attitude to failure, Istanbul’s successes have encouraged younger generations to seek entrepreneurial success, resulting in strong software and gaming sectors emerging in a city best known for e-commerce. Venture capital is also emerging.”

‘Invest On Board’
So when Turkish Airlines wanted to promote its country’s technology and Internet start-ups, it decided to do something different. The airline’s new ‘Invest On Board’ program streams pitch videos from startups to the in-seat screens of passengers in Business Class, providing participating startups with a captive audience for their pitches [video here].

Or as THY puts it: “Invest on Board is a one of a kind opportunity for investors flying Turkish Airlines Business Class to invest in hand-picked startups. Finding the next big business has never been so effortless.”

The project is run by Etohum, a Turkish startup accelerator and the short videos, which run under two minutes, advertise mostly Turkey-based startups but also some foreign companies.

Participating startups in the first batch of IFE pitch videos include home accessories e-commerce site Dekoreko, commerce platform Ganipara, and dating service Pembe Panjur. Startup companies can apply via the ‘Invest On Board’ website for a chance to be featured on Turkish Airlines’ IFE system.
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Dallas/Fort Worth Airport new security check experience is sponsored by Marriott

DFW x Marriott_security checkpoint_a680x465

This article appeared earlier on Future Travel Experience

Improving the passenger experience at the security checkpoint has proved to be a feat almost impossible to achieve at US airports, but a new pilot programme at Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport could finally pave the way for a more relaxing security experience.

‘Next Level Experience’
The airport has partnered with SpringHill Suites by Marriott, SecurityPoint Media and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on the ‘The Next Level Experience’ – a three-month pilot that aims to provide a more calming environment for passengers at the TSA checkpoint.

Lounge seating and screens displaying real-time waiting times have been installed at the entrance to DFW’s Terminal E, E18 security search zone, while ambient lighting, stylish decor, wall art, and relaxing music have been implemented in the queuing area. Once the passenger has completed the security process, they can re-pack their belongings in a comfortable ‘re-composure’ area, which features furnishings from SpringHill Suites.

James Crites, Executive Vice President of Operations at DFW Airport, said: “This enhanced checkpoint gives our passengers a next level experience when it comes to security screening. Wait times are automatically calculated and displayed on monitors and audio messages replace the need for TSA officers to shout instructions, and security messages are available to guide travellers throughout the screening process.”

Ken Buchanan, the airport’s Executive Vice President of Revenue Management, added: “Airports want to deliver a positive experience for passengers from the moment they step out of their car all the way to the boarding door, and screening checkpoints are a major part of that passenger experience. We want to lead the way in making passenger screening a positive encounter, while maintaining the highest levels of security.”
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