By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir
10 September 2015 | Competition in domestic travel in the US is further heating up, with a new wave of interiors just launched by United. Starting with the A319 this week, the new interior will be rolled out on A319s, A320s, 737s and 757s throughout 2016.
The new interiors are custom created for the airline as it pushes hard to compete with more design-led airlines such as Delta, Virgin America and JetBlue. It is no surprise that United have decided to keep up with their competitors and in certain areas possibly even push ahead of the competition.
Tablet holders and storage
Developed with input from customers whom the airline invited to test seat prototypes, the brand new United seats by design firm PriestmanGoode have created features several elements to improve the customer experience, including all-leather seat covers, a patented-design tray table with tablet holder, articulating seat bottoms for greater comfort when reclining and an adjustable headrest; in-seat universal A/C power outlets for customers to charge their devices; increased in-seat storage, including two seatback pockets and side stowage for laptops and tablets; dedicated beverage holders; and real granite cocktail tables (no weight spared there).
At 21.1 inches wide, the new United First seat is wider than the current seat and will have numerous custom-design elements and premium finishes including the signature United-branded tag. Each aircraft will continue to have the same number of premium-cabin seats. Read full article »
By Marisa Garcia, FlightChic
4 September 2015 | Zodiac Aerospace is celebrating the delivery of its 50,000th aircraft galley, a unit shipped to Etihad Airways for its new ‘Reimagined’ A380 cabin, that embodies everything going right with cabin design in recent years.
Far from the utilitarian storage and food preparation area we see on most aircraft, this fine crafted unit for Etihad Airways would fit in the modern living room of a high-concept design home.
This gorgeous cabin monument reveals just how thorough the Etihad Design Consortium was when tailoring the Reimagined flying experience; eliminating all possible eye-sores and creating a sense of place that communicates more hospitality than aviation.
“We are very proud of being part of such a visionary concept like the one that has been realized for the Etihad A380 cabin”, said Olivier Zarrouati, CEO of Zodiac Aerospace. This particular galley program started in 2011 and the first aircraft was delivered in December 2014.
Of course, airlines still buy the generic and utilitarian galleys, but the trend is towards cabin monuments serving a second life as welcome zones or customer social areas, at least for wide-body and long-haul aircraft. Beyond looking pretty, putting this functional space to work as an element of the passenger experience is smart design thinking.
With the limited space available on aircraft, each component should complement the airline’s brand aesthetic.
Images from MI Airline. Arke’s ‘TUI Cloud’ is branded in the airline’s colours
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
31 August 2015 | Earlier this year we reported on MI Airline’s AirFi box – a portable, battery-powered and self-scaling wireless local network. The AirFi solution is based around a small box which can be stowed in a luggage locker – instead of having to be installed in the aircraft, hence no certification is needed.
Launch customers of the AirFi box are Estonian Air, Transavia and Arke (part of tour operator TUI) – who are using the portable wifi network for inflight entertainment, and/or to connect the tablet devices of cabin crew.
Netherlands-based leisure carrier Arke – which later this year will be rebranded as TUI – has installed the AirFi box onboard its fleet of 3 B787, 1 B767 and 5 B737 aircraft for wireless entertainment purposes. The service is branded as ‘TUI Cloud’ and allows passengers to use their own devices to watch video content, read newspapers and play games.
Arke’s managing director Hans van de Velde tells TravConnect that the wireless service is appreciated by passengers. For example, on some flights 40 percent of passengers is reading De Telegraaf (the largest newspaper in the Netherlands) via TUI Cloud and the airline is considering not to carry the paper edition of the newspaper anymore.
According to Arke, the content and functionality of ‘TUI Cloud’ will be expanded with e-books, magazines (in partnership with publisher Sanoma) and newsfeeds in the coming months.
Ordering drinks, snacks and duty free
Arke is also the first airline in the world to let passengers order food, snacks and duty free items via their own devices for delivery to their seats. The airline is currently trialing the on-demand service on a select number of long-haul and short-haul routes. Read full article »
This case appears in the August 2015 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by airlinetrends.com and Simpliflying that identifies the latest innovative marketing campaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »
25 August 2015 | JetBlue has extended its social responsibility initiatives with a pilot program aimed to close the literacy gap in a low-income town by providing vending machines that give out thousands of free books to underprivileged children. A selection of 12 books rotates every two weeks, offering up to 42 different titles through the summer.
The airline teamed-up with publishing company Random House to place three vending book machines around the low-literacy neighbourhood of Anacostia, in Washington, D.C. which was chosen to launch this program after a study commissioned by JetBlue found that the Anacostia section of D.C. is a large ‘book desert’, leaving residents little or no access to purchase age-appropriate children’s books. According to city school data, the area sees less than 25 per cent of its middle schools (for children aged between 11-15) able to ready at grade level.
The kiosks have been placed at a Salvation Army’s community center, a Safeway store on Alabama Avenue and near the entrance of a Baptist Church.
To help their children enjoy their books, parents can opt-in to an SMS campaign that offers reading tips, as well as updates when the vending machines are re-stocked with fresh selections.
“Innovative solutions that involve and engage the community is necessary to combat the current summer slump that happens especially in underserved communities,” said Icema Gibbs, JetBlue’s director of corporate social responsibility. Read full article »
20 August 2015 | 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.
The product and service innovations we have selected to be among the most innovative concepts that have been launched in the first half of this year reflect how airlines are becoming more creative in the design of new products and services as more airlines are embrading hospitality, design and technology as ways to differentiate the passenger experience.
Estonian Air, Transavia and Arkefly are the first airlines to deploy the AirFi box – a compact, portable, battery-powered wi-fi solution that can be stowed inside a luggage locker and requires no modification to the aircraft, and hence no certification. Read article »
China Eastern has launched an airline-specific version of Microsoft’s ‘XiaoIce’ – an intelligent personal assistant – which on Wi-Fi equipped aircraft allows passengers to socialize with other passengers, contact the crew (who are equipped with tablets) and send post-arrival pick-up reminders to people on the ground. Read article »
In many Asian countries, prepaid rechargeable contactless payment cards are a common phenomenon. Now, two airlines in Asia are allowing passengers to make in-flight payments with those same smart cards they use to make everyday payments on the ground. Read article »
Besides featuring barista’s who make freshly brewed coffee to passenger’s preferences in its ‘Koru’ lounges, Air New Zealand now lets flyers order barista-made coffee via its smartphone app the minute they walk into one of the airline’s Koru Clubs around New Zealand. Read article »
Following years of restructuring, SAS has introduced its first refurbished A330 aircraft. Similar to Aer Lingus’ new A330 Business Class, SAS’ new premium cabin shows how carriers with a relatively limited long-haul network can respond to the passenger experience standards set by airlines from the Gulf and Asia. Read article »
Recently, several airlines have picked up Air NZ’s Skycouch concept. While China Airlines introduced its ‘Family Couch’ and Azul introduced the ‘Sky Sofa’, Air Astana has become the latest carrier to introduce a slightly different ‘Economy Sleeper Class’. Read article »
In an effort to take some of the stress out of the boarding process and reduce expensive delays before take-off, many airlines have been looking for alternative procedures to optimize boarding. Now Delta Air Lines is trying something new: Preloading carry-on bags into the overhead bins before the passengers embark the aircraft. Read article »
The airline industry is one of the leading sectors in deploying Twitter and Facebook for customer care, while in China many local and foreign carriers are present on Sina Weibo and WeChat. Now Dutch LCC Transavia has become the first airline to integrate WhatsApp into its webcare channels. Read article »
This case appears in the July 2015 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by airlinetrends.com and Simpliflying that identifies the latest innovative marketing campaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »
25 June 2015 | To celebrate the 35th anniversary of it’s Sao Paulo-Milan route, TAM Airlines recently wowed a flight full of passengers by using Facebook to learn more about them and creating a 100 percent personalized inflight magazine for each.
By integrating Facebook Connect into the ticket purchasing process, TAM was able to access the likes, preferences, social activity and even the photos of their guests to create a completely unique “Ownboard Magazine” with customized content from front to back.
When passengers boarded this special flight, they found a magazine in their seatback pocket that featured a cover showing their face and their first name in big, bold letters.
Every single article, photo and advert in the magazine was geared towards the passenger’s personal interests and life experiences. For example, the inside of the front cover showed the passenger’s name turned into a colour, and one page showed a montage of interesting things that happened on the day they were born.
The idea behind this initiative was to show passengers how much TAM cares about them and understands them. Furthermore, TAM had previously observed that passengers spent only around 3 percent of their time onboard looking at the inflight magazine.
Watching the YouTube video produced about the initiative (which has received more than 18,000 views since May 11), it is clear that passengers were quite happy with their Ownboard Magazines. In fact, 100 percent of the passengers from that flight took the magazine off the plane with them.
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
20 June 2015 | Catering to frequent travellers who are suffering from so-called ‘battery anxiety’, Emirates has installed 30 wireless ‘inductive charging’ trays in its First Class and Business Class lounges in Concourses A, B and C at Dubai International Airport. The trays allow customers to wirelessly charge up their smartphones simply by placing them on top of the tray.
The carrier said it placed the trays — which use the Qi wireless charging standard and are compatible with Android, Blackberry and, with a cable, iPhone devices — in “highly visible” locations. Each tray can charge two devices simultaneously.
Commenting on the new services, Mohammed Mattar, Emirates’ divisional SVP of airport services, said: “Mobile devices are an intrinsic part of our lives, and at Emirates we see free wifi and wireless charging on the go, as becoming the norm in the future travel experience.
In the past few years, wireless charging of personal devices has becoming more mainstream. For example, battery brand Duracel now offers a ‘MyGrid’ charging pad (In Duracell’s words: ‘drop & go charging’) for around USD 40, while IKEA has launched a furniture range that has wireless charging technology integrated into the surface.
Starbucks is also rolling out wireless charging pads at its coffeehouses in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas.
Delta lounge, Toronto Pearson Airport, SSP
Emirates introduction of the wireless charging pads follows several airlines and airports that have also jumped on this novel technology.
For example, Delta has installed Duracell’s wireless Powermats in the seating areas of its domestic SkyClub lounges. The wireless charging pads are designed for lower power charging devices such as cell phones, smart phones and e-readers. Adapters for a variety of different devices are available from Delta staff in the lounge. Read full article »
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
15 June 2015 | The process of boarding an aircraft is inefficient, as passengers entering the aircraft have to wait for other passengers who are busy placing their luggage in the overhead bins. They then quickly having to cram their own luggage into bins that are increasingly full, as many passengers try to take as much carry-on baggage with them into the cabin in order to avoid paying checked luggage fees.
In an effort to take some of the stress out of the boarding process and reduce expensive delays before take-off, 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 needs to spend on the ground.
Pre-loading carry-on bags
Now Delta Air Lines is trying something new: This summer travel season, the airline plans to preload carry-on bags into the overhead bins on some flights.
The new system is called ‘Early Valet’ and will offer passengers on busy US routes the chance to have a steward take their luggage from them at the gate and place it in the compartment above their assigned seat.
Agents will ask customers seated in the gate area if they’d like to participate, Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant told NBC. “Their bag will be specially tagged, similar to what you’d see at a hotel for room delivery,” said Durrant, “and then taken down onto the aircraft before boarding and placed above a customer’s seat based on their seat assignment.” Read full article »
By Ryan Ghee, Future Travel Experience
10 June 2015 | The jury is still out on virtual reality in-flight entertainment (IFE) – some think it holds great potential, but others see it as nothing more than a gimmick – and Transavia has become the latest carrier to explore the potential benefits of the immersive technology.
On 21 May, passengers flying with Transavia from Amsterdam to Barcelona had the chance to try out the Oculus Rift DK2 during the flight, and Roy Scheerder – the airline’s Commercial Director – revealed to Future Travel Experience that more trials are planned following the “very positive” reaction. He explained that up to five “qualitative tests” will now be undertaken, before the results are analysed and the next steps are planned.
During the trials, passengers are able to enjoy a variety of content, including a virtual cockpit tour, a virtual cinema experience in which the passengers can watch a movie in an empty cinema surrounded by aircraft seats, and a virtual hang-glider experience in which they are floating above the earth, watching the landscape below. The latter also includes a fly-by by a Boeing aircraft.
Excitement or escapism?
Interestingly, Scheerder explained that based on the first trial, it seems different passenger types prefer different types of virtual reality IFE content. “Virtual reality is very immersive and as such we get great reactions about the technology itself,” he said. “We are testing three concepts and already see that different customer groups have strong preferences and ask for relevant content. Read full article »
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
20 May 2015 | The massive consumer adoption of smartphones and tablets has resulted in a large number of new and established suppliers developing wireless inflight ‘intranet’ solutions that can be used as a low-cost wireless inflight entertainment system, as well as for onboard retail purposes, inflight service and crew productivity.
A recent article on Runway Girl Network nicely summarizes this development: “Independently-backed IFE streaming providers are surfacing at an unprecedented rate in commercial aviation. Designed for a quick deployment, most of these new systems are being offered to airlines for free or at a fraction of cost of wireless systems from the majors.”
AirFi portable wifi
One solution that has been adopted by several airlines recently is MI Airline’s AirFi box – a compact, portable, battery-powered and self-scaling wireless local network that is not connected to the aircraft. The system is based around a small box, which can be stowed in a luggage locker – instead of having to be installed in the aircraft.
Thanks to its portability, the AirFi solution is classified as a so-called T-PED (Transmitting Personal Electronic Device) and does not require modification to the aircraft. Hence no lengthy STC (supplemental type certificate) certification is needed. “We provide the box with all the required paperwork so that the airline only needs to [advise] the authorities, change some of their security manuals and do a risk analysis,” MI Airline CEO Job Heimerikx told APEX. “The complete process takes one person two days.”
At the start of each day, AirFi boxes are placed in crew-dedicated overhead stowage bins and switched on with the push of a single button. At the end of each day, the boxes are offloaded and their batteries are charge as they synchronize wirelessly with a ‘proxy box’ on the ground. When the boxes are synchronized, content is automatically updated and user data can be saved to the airline’s own network for analysis.
Roughly the size of a shoebox and weighing 1.2 kilograms, the AirFi box runs entirely on battery power that can last up to 15 hours. Two AirFi boxes are capable of covering the entire cabin of a 180-seat B737, while three to four will be used to ensure robust service across a 280+ passenger twin-aisle jet. Read full article »
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
17 May 2015 | As the airline industry has always captured people’s imagination, airlines can tap into their local heritage to incorporate a bit of storytelling into the travel experience. Legacy carriers in particular can benefit from their ‘flag carrier’ status as a source of inspiration in designing the cabin experience, in order to move beyond the generic grey and blue environments.
KLM ‘Internationally Dutch’
A well-documented example is KLM’s ‘Internationally Dutch’ brand positioning, which has seen the airline collaborating with internationally well-known Dutch designers such as Victor&Rolf, Marcel Wanders and Hella Jongerius for respectively amenity kits, tableware and seat and interior design. According to KLM, customers have indicated that they appreciate KLM’s typically Dutch character, so it decided to embrace Dutch Design.
Delft Blue porcelain is also part of KLM’s Dutch heritage-inspired branding. Since the 1950s, the airline has handed out small ceramic replicas of historical Dutch houses filled with ‘genever’ (a Dutch style of gin) to passengers in Business Class, which are a popular souvenir item for many passengers.
In order to bring a contemporary style to its Business Class dining, KLM in 2011 began serving meals in Business Class on both short- and long-haul flights offered on tableware designed by Marcel Wanders. The designer (of Moooi and Droog Design fame) created porcelain, glassware, cutlery, linen and a tray for the airline in his signature shapely style.
‘Tasty Blue’ catering concept
Aiming to bring a touch of design to the dining experience in Economy on long-haul flights, KLM this fall will introduce a new catering concept which it has dubbed ‘Tasty Blue’.
According to KLM, the new service is based on the concept of a ‘set table’. Says Madeleine Braun, Product Manager Economy Class Long Haul at KLM, “With the new Tasty Blue concept, KLM will set the table for passengers in Economy. And a set table should be colourful and appealing, especially given the important role of packaging today in influencing the perception and experience of consumers.” Read full article »
This case appears in the May 2015 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly report by airlinetrends.com and Simpliflying that identifies the latest innovative marketing campaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »
11 May 2015 | Value-based carrier Jetstar featured strongly on an April episode of the popular Australian competitive cooking show My Kitchen Rules, which presents teams of wannabe chefs squaring-off in culinary challenges that test teamwork, creativity and prowess in the kitchen.
In the episode airing April 13th, six duelling culinary teams found themselves in a hangar at Sydney Airport, gathered round a 787 Dreamliner in Jetstar’s bold black and orange livery.
The day’s challenge? To prepare an inflight meal for a plane full of hungry passengers that looked delicious, tasted great and fit into Jetstar’s signature back meal box… all in just 90 minutes. The prize? Victors would not only dodge elimination by securing passenger votes, but would also have their creation become the celebrity pre-order meal option on all Jetstar flight over 5.5 hours between April 14 and July 14 of this year.
In addition to enjoying significant brand exposure throughout the hour-long primetime reality show, Jetstar received plenty of coverage from other media outlets. The story was picked up and shared through social media by mainstream media such as the Sydney Morning Herald, advertising sources like B&T, and entertainment blogs including Sydney Confidential.
Morning talk show Sunrise even had its own correspondent and TV cameras on board to taste the different offerings.
The day after the show aired, Jetstar erected pop-up kitchens in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth that let the general public to try out its latest pre-order option. A Jetstar-produced video illustrating how the dish is prepared has been viewed nearly 1,500 times so far.
By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
5 May 2015 | Back in 1973, Domino’s Pizza introduced a guarantee that customers would receive their pizzas within 30 minutes of placing an order or they would receive the pizzas free. Over the years, Domino’s reduced this service guarantee to the slogan “You Got 30 Minutes,” alluding to the earlier pledge but stopping short of promising delivery in half an hour. Instead, the company introduced the Domino’s Pizza Tracker, an app and Web-based widget that lets customers check on the pizza they have ordered at every stage, providing real-time information that relieves anxiety.
Delta ‘Track My Bags’
Taking a cue from the pizza delivery business, Delta in 2011 became the first airline to make the baggage process more transparent for passengers by launching its ‘Track Checked Bags’ service.
Since bag tags are scanned during each part of the journey by airlines, Delta’s service lets passengers track their baggage in real-time as it makes its way through the Delta system, providing them with some peace of mind when they learn their luggage has been loaded onto their flight.
Available for domestic flights, Delta passengers can go online to track their checked baggage with the bag tag number they received at the time of baggage check-in. Passengers can use the ‘Track My Bag’ functionality on the Delta mobile app to scan their baggage tag with their smartphone camera.
And, as Delta has equipped its entire domestic fleet with GoGo’s in-flight Internet, passengers can even check up in the air whether their bag has made it on their flight using the free access to delta.com and the mobile app.
Surprisingly, Delta’s ‘Track My Bags’ service hasn’t been introduced by any other airline so far, who are clearly less willing to share this kind of data with passengers. The fast developments in digital luggage tags (a.k.a. ‘The Connected Bag’) will no doubt change this status quo though. Read full article »
By Malgorzata Lach, smartaer.com
1 May 2015 | Obeying restrictions and rules put upon passengers by safety regulators and airlines is unavoidable in air travel. The nature of regulations can also vary, making it harder for the travelling public to get their travels organized. Furthermore, some of the limitations come up unexpectedly for inexperienced travellers and require immediate reaction.
In response, a few forward-looking airports in Northern Europe decided to turn things around and change those unanticipated situations into positive outcomes.
Overweight Baggage Dropp Point (Rygge Airport, Norway)
One rule that certainly affects the majority of the travelling public is the baggage weight limit. When dealing with an overweight bag issue, some passengers decide to stick to their plans and pay the additional charges in order to check in what they have packed, while others go through their suitcases and remove the stuff they need the least. In the worst case they will have to dump some of their belongings in a waste bin at the airport.
To ease the pain of leaving ones personal possessions behind, Fretex – a Norwegian chain of second hand stores that is run by the Salvation Army – came up with a creative solution. The charity organization partnered with Moss Rygge Airport, which is located 60 kilometres from Oslo, Norway, to install an ‘Overweight Baggage Drop Point’.
Consisting of a weighing scale and an used clothing container, the dedicated area allows travellers drop off their clothes to avoid extra charges and at the same time do something good by donating them to those in need. Video of how the charity service works here. Read full article »
By Marisa Garcia, Flight Chic
24 April 2015 | Rapidly evolving alternatives to traditional inflight entertainment systems, smarter seat designs and a redefined premium cabin were top themes at this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo 2015 in Hamburg, the aircraft cabin show of shows.
Airlines are eager to make the most of potential revenue space on their planes, while air travelers dread crowded cabins. To resolve this tension, airlines need to draw attention away from the pain of the cabin crunch—especially in Economy.
Technology now takes centre stage in Hamburg as inflight connectivity and entertainment offer passengers productivity, emotional comfort, or at least distraction. This technology is a major capital investment, but vendors are introducing solutions which make these IFE technologies more affordable—even a potential source of revenue and a way to optimize operations.
As airlines step-up the rollout of in-flight connectivity, Panasonic Avionics Corporation celebrated the 700th installation of its eXConnect in-flight Wi-Fi system at the show. The company provides a suite of options which combine in-seat entertainment with global coverage of Ku-band satellite broadband Wi-Fi and 3G services for internet, text and telephony through AeroMobile.
Panasonic also announced that Asia’s largest airline, China Southern, chose its hybrid eXO IFE solution for its narrowbody fleet of A320s and A321s. The eXO system lets airlines mix and match Full HD overhead video and in-seat audio, seat-back Audio-Video On Demand (AVOD), and wireless streaming to passenger devices. This flexibility lets airlines configure entertainment on the aircraft by sections, to suit their product strategy. It lowers costs, reduces weight, and allows easy upgrades when airlines chose to update cabins.
Wireless in-flight entertainment (wIFE) has proven successful where installing embedded in-flight entertainment is impractical. It can also complement existing embedded IFE systems.
Gate-to-gate usage of in-seat tablets
Lufthansa Systems’ BoardConnect solution offers a rich user interface for entertainment and connectivity directly streamed to passengers’ personal electronic devices. The company has developed an in-seat product which fits consumer tablets on a frame added to the seat-back.
Read full article »