SAS opens its second off-airport City Lounge at Stockholm Central Station

THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED ON FLIGHTCHIC

SAS will open a new city lounge at Stockholm’s Grand Central station, which offers flyers all the exclusivity and comfort of membership in a private club.

The opening of the new club follows the successful launch in June of last year of the first SAS City Lounge, located in the heart of Stockholm’s business district, in Stureplan.

Stockholm Grand Central
The new 600 square meter lounge is located at Stockholm Grand Central station, approximately 150 m from the Arlanda Express airport train, and offers the same private-club service as the original SAS city lounge, also opened in partnership with No18 Office & Lounge.

Guests enjoy free WiFi, reception and concierge service, open work spaces and telephone rooms, as well as complimentary coffee and tea. Meeting and conference rooms are also available to rent.

“The positive reaction to the first SAS city lounge in Stureplan underlined the growing demand for such services, and how much customers appreciate the exclusive membership-club feeling and the opportunity to do their work when and how it suits them,” the airline states in its announcement.

New ways of working
The new lounge’s proximity to direct train and bus services to Arlanda is intended to be more convenient to business and leisure travellers alike, and keeps step with the airline’s focus on satisfying productivity flyers. The service model appeals both to traditional business travellers and entrepreneurs, including freelancers who can make the most of comfortable temporary offices to hold their meetings in the city.

“We continuously aim to improve our offer to our frequent flyers. Inspired by other membership clubs around the world, we now offer people who fly with us frequently opportunities to meet, work effectively or simply relax in a comfortable environment,” says Stephanie Smitt Lindberg, VP Customer Journey & Loyalty, SAS. Read full article »

Air France and star chef Joël Robuchon partner with Foodora to promote their cuisine

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As the flag carrier of a country that prides itself on its culinary excellence, Air France in the past years has been creative in promoting its onboard cuisine.

Besides partnering with many Michelin star chefs (like many carriers do), the airline regularly invites a chef to join a flight to personally introduce a new menu to passengers in Business and First.

A few years ago, Air France also toured with a food truck around Manhattan handing out free samples of its inflight meals to the public.

Now, in an ‘on trend’ initiative that builds upon the popularity of food delivery services such as Foodora, Deliveroo, GrubHub and Uber EATS, Air France has launching the ‘Bon Appétit’ campaign in Montreal.

To coincide with the grand opening of his new L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon restaurant in Montreal, Joël Robuchon – known as the chef with the most Michelin stars in the world –  has partnered with Air France and delivery app Foodora to give Montreal residents the chance to have a free three course meal delivered directly to their homes.

The offer runs from 9 to 15 December 2016 and each day 10 menus are made available via Foodora. Those who want to order the gourmet menu have to use a discount code (BONAPPETIT) to have the 3 course meal – which is priced at CAD 95 – delivered for free. All dishes are prepared in the chef’s new restaurant which opened to the public on 7 December. Read full article »

Qantas lets lounge visitors order their coffee via their smartphone

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Taking a cue from Starbucks’ mobile ordering service, as well as fellow down-under airline Air New Zealand’s coffee ordering service, Qantas recently introduced a new service at its lounges across Australia that invites lounge visitors to order their barista-made coffee via their smartphone.

In an effort to offer peace of mind to busy travellers who have navigated traffic and queues at security before having to line up again in the lounge to get a barista-made coffee, Qantas has partnered with Skip, a free app that helps customers “skip the queue” by ordering and paying for coffee and food.

In the Qantas Clubs alone, baristas brew over 1,000 cups of tea and coffee every day. In an average week the Sydney Qantas Club sees the biggest demand for coffee, with 6am to 7am being the peak demand time.

The mobile ordering service has been available since July 2016 and the Skip app can be used to order coffee at Qantas Clubs and Business Lounges at Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney domestic airports.

Qantas passengers using the Skip app can also select the time they want to collect their coffee and receive a text message when their order is ready. In addition, touchscreens have been installed around the lounges so those who aren’t Skip users can order before walking up to the bar.

According to Skip general manager Bill Bizos during the soft launch most people preferred downloading the app to using kiosks. Read full article »

JetBlue new Boston – New York shuttle service offers free coffee and bagels to take onboard

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images: Harry Spencer, Adrian Leung, InsideFlyer

Routes with a large number of business travellers travelling back and forth on the same day for meetings are a very lucrative market for airlines.

Examples of busy business corridors include New York and Boston, Chicago, Washington, as well as Los Angeles and San Francisco in the USA, London and Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt in Europe, Tokyo and Osaka and Shanghai and Hong Kong, Beijing in Asia. Besides strong competition between airlines, these shuttle routes also face increasing competition from high-speed rail services.

We have reported before how Delta aims to increase frequent flyer loyalty on routes between New York and Boston, Chicago, Washington, as well as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle by improving the amenities on the ground and on board.

JetBlue Shuttle
Now JetBlue has set its eyes on the lucrative shuttle market. At the end of October, the airline lauched its first shuttle service between New York LaGuardia and Boston Logan offering 6 daily return flights.

Having stepped up competition in the transcontinental market in 2013 with its new A321 aircraft that feature the Mint Business Class, as well as amenities like an inflight snack station, JetBlue stated it plans to inject more competition into the Boston-New York airline ‘shuttle’ market, which is currently being dominated by Delta and American Airlines.

According to investment publication The Motley Fool, the airline shuttles have lost customers to rail travel since Amtrak debuted its high-speed Acela Express service between Boston and Washington in late 2000.

“Travel between Boston and LaGuardia is ready for a little JetBlue reinvention,” said Jamie Perry, VP Marketing, JetBlue. “For years, one of the northeast’s busiest travel routes has been plagued by high prices and a lack of creativity. Our Boston-based business customers and anyone who has been forced to pay up or make the long drive will love this new option.” Read full article »

KLM adds passenger reviews and ratings to flight search results

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Recently, a growing number of online travel agents and airlines have partnered with third-party data providers TripAdvisor and Routehappy to help customers learn more about the quality of their flight.

By sharing candid details of the passenger experience airlines could move beyond commodity pricing and beyond competition solely on fares, instead giving customer fact-based metrics about their products which would justify a higher fare.

There is an important precedent for this change in consumer mindset in the hospitality sector. Today’s informed and savvy travellers are making their hotel choices based on ‘reputation pricing’ —the correlation between a brand’s online reputation and the premium it can charge. This shift from ‘sticker price’ bookings to bookings based on the quality of the experience has been one of the big positive effects of TripAdvisor on the hotel industry.

Rate My Flight
Social and digital frontrunner, KLM is taking transparency to the next level by sharing the feedback it gathers directly from passengers with customers who are looking to book a ticket with the airline.

After extensive experimentation, KLM started showing star ratings and reviews in the search flow of the KLM website in June of this year.

Customers searching for a flight can see the actual reviews from previous passengers who have flown that flight in the past, based on reviews collected from KLM passengers using the airline’s ‘Rate My Flight’ feature. Read full article »

FlightPath3D lets passengers book an airport taxi via the IFE flight map

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THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED ON FUTURE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE

Known for its highly interactive, 3D ‘geotainment’ moving maps – which are featured on the IFE systems onboard airlines such as Air France, KLM, Virgin Atlantic, Norwegian and Finnair – FlightPath 3D showed Future Travel Experience at the recent APEX EXPO in Singapore how it can now help airlines tap into “aircraft-to-door” ancillary revenue opportunities with its new ‘In-flight Travel Planner’, which is supported by multiple patents.

Book airport transfer
As Duncan Jackson, President of FlightPath3D, demonstrated to FTE, passengers can enter their final address (hotel, home, etc.) into the moving map in order to access myriad personalised features.

For instance, rather than simply displaying the estimated time of arrival at the destination airport, the In-flight Travel Planner can draw upon historical or real-time traffic data to provide an accurate time of arrival at the passenger’s final destination.

Partnerships with the likes of Uber and SuperShuttle also allow passengers to view and book ground transportation options while they are flying to help make the arrivals experience more seamless.

After booking their ride in-flight, passengers receive an SMS upon landing to confirm their booking and pick-up location. Read full article »

Ryanair lets passengers rate their flight via its mobile app

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In the past two and a half years, Ryanair has been busy upgrading its products and services, stepping up its digital innovation activities, as well as opening routes to main airport hubs in an effort – called ‘Always Getting Better’ – to appeal more to business travellers.

“This is not a PR stunt,” said CEO Michael O’Leary at the launch of the initiative, describing the Always Getting Better programme as a “transformative” evolution and a “fundamental change” in the way both he and Ryanair do business. ‘”If I’d known being nice to customers would have been so good for business, I would have done it years ago.”

Rate My Flight
As part of the third phase of the program – which focuses on digital innovation – Ryanair earlier this year added a ‘Rate My Flight’ feature to its app. Passengers who want to rate their flight have to download the regular Ryanair app, allow for push notifications, and are send the survey through the app upon landing.

The Rate My Flight survey asks passengers to evaluate each element of their flight, from boarding through food and drink provision to crew helpfulness and overall service standards. Ryanair says it uses the feedback to tweet and improve its offerings as much in real time as possible.

Feedback results
The ‘Rate My Flight’ intiative was trialled in March and went live in May of this year. Ryanar has just published the first feedback results, based on more than 8,800 passengers who used the ‘Rate My Flight’ function during June and July.

More than half of respondents (53 percent) rated their overall experience as ‘very good’, 36 percent rated their experience as ‘OK’ and 11 percent rated it as ‘poor’. Crew friendliness received the highest positive rating, with 63 percent scoring this ‘very good’.

At the other end of the scale, boarding received the highest number of ‘poor’ responses, with 14 percent saying they were unhappy with the boarding process.

TripAdvisor aims to make the airline passenger experience more transparent

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Airlines have long relied on awards and recognitions from industry watchers and major publications to reassure customers of the quality of their products and services, in very much the same way that professional critics and ratings firms have put their seal of approval on restaurants and hotels for decades.

But the rise of the internet has disrupted that ‘expert-review’ dynamic. The active participation of consumers on ratings sites which evaluate everything from films to books to consumer goods to services, and of course travel, suggests that today’s consumers trust popular opinion over ratings which could be perceived as an extension of marketing and advertising (a.k.a ‘the experience is the marketing’).

TripAdvisor Flights
TripAdvisor is now looking to shake up the airline industry the same way it has hotels, by launching airline reviews. The sixteen year old travel review site has accrued over 350 million individual travel reviews covering 6.5 million hotels, restaurants and attractions and has now expanded its TripAdvisor Flights service to let customers grade and review airlines around the world in much the same way that they would review a night’s stay somewhere.

These reviews are then combined with an external rating of the amenities on a particular route, such as the type of seat offered and whether there are power ports and wi-fi available to flyers, to give it an overall ‘FlyScore’ which will rate the quality of an itinerary on a 1 to 10 scale.

Consumers can sort their flight search results by price, duration, the ‘FlyScore’, or a blend of factors categorised by TripAdvisor as “Best value of time and money.”  TripAdvisor expects to refine the system, introducing further enhancements this year.

According to The Economist, “History suggests the firm has a good chance of making an eventual impact. If it does reach its potential, it might just encourage flyers to change their buying behaviour. If customers are willing to pay, say, $30 more for a seat rated as excellent compared with one that is terrible, then maybe airlines will pull out of their race to the bottom. A world in which carriers compete for the quality of the reviews they receive, as well as the price they offer, would be a better one.” Read full article »

Jetstar Asia launches inflight book exchange to encourage holiday reading

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In an effort to encourage reading among Singaporeans while onboard the plane and during their holiday getaways, Qantas’ Singapore-based LCC Jetstar Asia has launched a book swap initiative.

Billed as “the world’s first flying book exchange” and the “latest in in-flight entertainment,” the Jetstar ‘Big Book Swap’ is a partnership with Singapore’s National Library Board.

On July 30th, Singapore’s inaugural National Reading Day, over 500 books and bestselling titles donated by the National Library Board, MPH Bookstores, Select Books, Book Point and Write Editions will be distributed to passengers at the boarding gates of selected Jetstar flights at Changi Airport Terminal 1.

Book. Fly. Swap.
Passengers will be invited to take the books on holiday, and leave them in the seat-backs on their return flight for another traveller to read en-route to their holiday destination. Passengers wanting to contribute their own books to the flying book club can also get a Book Swap sticker from the Jetstar crew.

The idea for the Big Book Swap was based on a survey of over 3,900 Singaporeans that found that reading was not a priority for most people. 55 percent of the respondents read less than five times a year, with 42 percent stating that the primary reason for not picking up a book was due to a lack of spare time. Despite holidays being a time for people to unwind and relax, only 7 percent usually read while on vacation. Read full article »

Brazil’s Azul partners with São Paulo food truck for new onboard menu

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

From its California origins, the food-truck phenomenon has exploded in cities across the world, evolving from chip stands into quality gourmet food.

Tapping into the food truck trend, about half a dozen airlines –  including Air France, Lufthansa, Austrian, Delta, United and Korean Air – in the past few years have sent their own branded gourmet food truck around the streets of cities around the USA as a means of promoting their on-board catering services.

And in order to promote the restaurants and cafes present at the Stockholm Arlanda,  the Arlanda Food Truck toured around Stockholm during the fall of 2013.

Azul x Buzina Food Truck
Now, Brazil’s Azul Airlines – known for its innovative products and services – has flipped the airline food truck concept by teaming up with Sao Paulo’s popular Buzina Food Truck to serve the food truck’s fare onboard (video here).

Starting this July, passengers in all classes onboard Azul’s A330s from Sao Paulo on routes to the United States and Portugal will be served menus designed by the Buzina food truck chefs and adapted to fly by LSG Sky Chefs. The onboard menu choices include Buzina staples like macaroni and cheese in Economy and artisan cheeseburgers in Business. Read full article »

SAS offers frequent flyers a space to meet and work in downtown Stockholm

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) is taking an innovative approach towards the development of its lounges by offering different lounge concepts for different moments of use. Last year, the airline opened the first of a series of Café Lounges around Scandiavia: mini-lounges located near gate areas where premium passengers can wait or work in comfort.

Tapping into the big shift in how a growing number of people work today, SAS in partnership with No 18 Office & Lounge, to open a City Lounge for its frequent flyers in downtown Stockholm, Sweden.

City Lounge
The SAS City Lounge is located at Birger Jarlsgatan 18, right in the center of Stockholm’s business district. City Lounge includes both open plan work areas and private meeting rooms where passengers can work and network.

Diamond members of SAS Eurobonus loyalty program (plus guest) can access the creative meeting place for free a day before and after their trip with SAS, but also at other times for a fee of SK299 (EUR32, USD37) per person. The City Lounge, which is open 9-17 on weekdays, includes wifi, coffee, tea, and concierge services. No 18 also offers SAS Diamond members to schedule an appointment with a personal trainer at their gym.

“We continuously aim to improve our offer to our frequent flyers. Inspired by other membership clubs around the world, we have now opened SAS City Lounge to offer people who fly with us frequently, opportunities to meet, work effectively or simply relax in a comfortable environment, even in the center of Stockholm,” says Stephanie Smitt Lindberg, VP Customer Journey & Loyalty, SAS. Read full article »

SriLankan captures real-time passenger feedback data throughout the journey

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

As part of a trend that sees airlines and airports welcome real-time feedback from passengers via digital channels other than social media, Sri Lanka’s national carrier, SriLankan Airlines has launched a comprehensive customer satisfaction platform which captures feedback from passengers throughout the journey, from booking to overall satisfaction measures after the return home.

The airline has set up various ways for customers to share their impressions of service quality at its Colombo Ticket Office service counters, on its website, at the check-in counters at Colombo Airport, inside its lounge at the airport – as well as on-board through a dedicated application on iPads issued to cabin service managers.

There is also a survey app incorporated into the airline’s IFE system, plus a feedback module incorporated in SriLankan’s mobile app. Once the journey has ended, customers also receive an email request to evaluate their journey. All surveys are available in five languages: English, Sinhala, Tamil, Chinese and Japanese.

The passenger feedback which was initially gathered through a paper-based system has evolved gradually and the airline has now developed a full-fledged system where they could amass the treasured thoughts of passengers via digital media. Feedback data combines a full set of passenger profiles such as name, gender, ethnicity, travel preferences and their service aspirations with flight information into a data warehouse which further enables SriLankan to create a rich set of analytics, identify trends and strengthen customer relationships.

“Today we are serving an informed, tech savvy, demanding customer. We understand the service expectation can be delivered by working smart. We recognise that technology can bring the speed and sophistication to serve today’s customer,” says Mr Chanaka Olagama, Head of Cabin Services, SriLankan Airlines.

Real-time alerts
To ensure prompt responsiveness to service interruptions and critical issues which affect passenger satisfaction, real time alerts for immediate service recovery or negative feedback from passengers are sent to the supervisor of each customer touch point via text messages.

Additionally, live dashboards display the overall mood of customers through color-coded cards which reflect passenger satisfaction ratings, based on feedback received. Read full article »

Finnair turns its inflight wi-fi portal into an e-commerce platform

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By Marisa Garcia

Last year, Finnair committed to a fleet-wide investment in inflight connectivity, valued at USD33 million. The service was first made available on the airline’s new A350 aircraft (of which it currently has five in service), and further installations will continue through 2018 on both Finnair’s long- and short-haul fleets.

While some airlines still ponder the business case in favour of giving customers the wi-fi connectivity they want onboard, Finnair provides passengers in Business Class with free inflight wi-fi and has put its new ‘Nordic Sky’ inflight portal to work as a channel to offer new services to flyers, as well as boost ancillary sales.

The portal can be accessed on passengers’ own devices and gives all passengers free access to finnair.com, plus Finnair services such as destination information, customer care and pre-order duty free shopping— with items purchased being delivered to the passenger’s seat on their return flight.

Reviving duty free sales
This onboard retail strategy is a departure from the tired trolley product push which has been part of the in-flight experience for decades. Technology allows Finnair to promote shopping opportunities while letting passengers enjoy the journey and letting cabin crew focus on more critical functions of passenger service and cabin safety.

“That’s why we’re using technology, the IFE, the portals we have. So that, if you want to shop, we enable that through the technological platforms we have onboard,” Finnair’s chief commercial officer Juha Järvinen told APEX last year. “We shall not increase the number of trolleys going back and forth in a corridor. That’s what you don’t want. The IFE technology and the wi-fi platforms enable you to do your shopping when you want, at your discretion.” Read full article »

Schiphol Airport and MADE.com open branded pop-up living rooms at the airport

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By Marisa Garcia

Schiphol has partnered with online furniture shop MADE.com and opened several branded waiting spaces, giving passengers comfy living room oases at the bustling H- and M-piers.

These piers host low-cost carriers serving the airport. The MADE partnership was a good opportunity for Schiphol to spruce up the more austere terminal area, pleasantly surprising passengers.

MADE also gets to reach shoppers who might like testing out its more affordable high-design furnishings.

With a head office in London and an office in Shanghai, China, MADE minimises its overheads by selling online, and groups orders of the same item together to gain efficiencies from repetitive production. It does not own its factories, instead building close working relationships with independent factories and designers.

Rather than pay for permanent retail spaces, MADE has opened several pop-up showrooms, featuring a changing selection furnishings where customers can take away fabric samples and create wish-lists. The company recently opened its fourth European showroom at Amsterdam’s Overtoom street.

Brand partnerships
“Schiphol is the perfect partner to create a innovative and unconventional shop area,” says Damien Poelhekke of MADE. “Both Schiphol MADE are pushing a limit, in a new learning environment. So we go together on a journey to discover the customer of the future.”

For Schiphol, the pop-up terminal showroom was an opportunity to trial an alternative retail space model, while giving passengers something unexpected which would enhance their travels. Read full article »

KLM ‘Night Light’ lets kids count the days until their travelling mom or dad will return

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By Marisa Garcia, FlightChic

For mommies (and daddies) flying  KLM on a quick business trip and leaving kids behind, bed time is a difficult time.

But KLM has come up with a charming way to soothe the little ones missing their parents with a special night light which lets them pretend to be on the flight.

The new KLM Night Light, was designed specially for the families of business travellers, KLM explains.

It’s a mini aircraft with a light behind each window of the Night Light, marking each night the traveller will be away. The lights turn off one by one as the days get closer to the return flight, with all the lights off by the morning of the big arrival back home.

KLM says the light also represents the airlines commitment to punctuality, ensuring parents get back home when promised.

KLM’s BlueBiz loyalty programme who book tickets via KLM’s BlueBiz website before 1 May, could win one of the the KLM Night Lights the airline is giving away with this promotion, and others can buy a KLM Night Light for € 33 (or 13,200 miles) in KLM’s online shop. Read full article »