Storytelling

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 »

KLM brings colourful design to meals and trolleys in Economy

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

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 »

Tintin takes to the skies with Brussels Airlines

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This article first appeared on TheDesignAir

Brussels Airlines and The Hergé Foundation ‘Moulinsart’ have unveiled an Airbus A320 with a livery inspired by the world famous Belgian cartoon character Tintin. Both Belgian companies have worked several months on this unique project, based on the original drawings by the hand of Hergé.

Move over Shamu (Southwest’s Seaworld livery), the result is a 37m long black shark, based on Professor Calculus’ shark submarine from the Tintin adventure, Red Rackham’s Treasure (image). The aircraft was baptized ‘Rackham’. On the fuselage we read: “We fly you to the home of Tintin.”

Mirroring the designs within Brussels Airlines’ new lounge in Brussels Airport, Tintin – the historical Belgian character created by Hergé, who travels the world on adventurous quests – continues his role as the airline’s travel partner.

This is the first time Belgian cartoonist Hergé been translated onto the fuselage of an aircraft. Hergé himself was fascinated by planes. They are the most used means of transportation in the Tintin oeuvre and they were always drawn with great technical precision.

For the painting of the aircraft, Brussels Airlines worked with aircraft paint artist Andre Eisele, who had the challenging task to adapt the perspective of the drawings prepared by Moulinsart’s graphic designers to the unusual curves of an aircraft fuselage, to get as close to the original shark submarine design as possible. The entire paint job took 1500 man hours in total and even extends to the bulkhead design inside the aircraft (video here). Read full article »

Kids drawings make their way to onboard amenities, aircraft liveries and boarding passes

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This case appears in the July 2014 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 » 

There are few things that put a smile on people’s faces like kids creating imaginative drawings and proudly showing the result of their hard work. Moving beyond the regular (read: slightly boring) children drawing competitions, airlines such as Aeroflot, Korean Air and Jetstar Asia have opted to actually feature the creative results from these competitions on their inflight materials, aircraft liveries and boarding passes, which adds a sympathetic touch and a nice story to their brand.

Inflight event (Aeroflot)
To strike a chord with passengers, Aeroflot celebrated International Children’s Day in a creative way. On June 1st, young passengers flying with Aeroflot on that day took part in a painting exhibit onboard more than 20 long-haul flights.

The kids were given some time to create their drawings using a colouring set from the amenity kits for children. Other passengers were also involved in the action: As the kids were trying hard to make a nice drawings, parents were ready to help, while others were watching the process, eager to see the results.

Having finished their drawings, the little artists then proudly presented their masterpieces to the whole aircraft walking up and down the aisles and were rewarded with passengers admiration and a gift from Aeroflot – a funny inflatable plane.

“For kids it was a good chance to express their impressions of the journey with Aeroflot and for us to let them feel our care and love. The festive atmosphere made the flight unforgettable. It was a truly touching moment to see the kids being the heroes of the day!” reads an Aeroflot statement.

During the first half of June, Aeroflot also organized a ‘Colors of the Earth and Sky’ painting contest on social media. Out of 400 entries, 20 winners were chosen who were awarded with a visit to Aeroflot’s main office in the center of Moscow and their paintings could be used in the design of future amenity kits and other services for young passengers on board.

Aircraft livery (Korean Air)
Another sympathetic initiative is Korean Air’s ‘Draw Your Own Plane’ contest, which has been held several times by the airline. One campaign asked kids in elementary schools across South Korea to make a drawing inspired by South Korea’s heritage, while another event saw kids busy painting at one of Korean Air’s aircraft hangars (images here). The winning creations, chosen out of hundreds of drawings, were featured on the liveries of a Korean Air B747-400 and a B737-800. Read full article »

Local Heroes: How local stores and restaurants are gaining presence at airports

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By Hildegard Assies, airporttrends•com

The long-standing relationship between people and brands is broken. According to Havas Media, 54 percent of consumers worldwide do not trust brands. Much of the trust, respect and loyalty people had for many global brands have been falling for the last three decades. Due to irresponsible business practices and food scandals that have recently been in the news around the world, the dominant sentiment is that many organisations have become big by doing wrong.

This confrontation of consumers with the consequences of mass consumption, results that consumers are slowly changing the way they live and consume. Consumption has moved beyond the merely transactional an instead of looking for “more”, consumers are on the look out for honest products and services in an authentic environment. They search for unique places and brands that they do want to be associated with and improve their wellbeing but most importantly, they can trust.

The rise of local flavor
Trust starts from scratch again by smaller companies and brands that are quite close to us. Brands which want to do right instead of doing less worse. And that’s why we see the rise of local flavor. Just have a look at the rising number of urban farmer markets or eco-friendly products in supermarkets. And why is it that we search for this radically good coffee made by a passionate barista in a place where we feel at home?

Tyler Brûlé from Monocle underlined in his keynote speech at the recent ACI Trading Conference in Zurich that the age of mass, uniform, global sameness has passed. Mature consumers move on to products that offer a full story of tradition and craftsmanship. Connecting your products or services to specific locales will make them more relevant, more exclusive and correspondingly more exciting and desirable. Read full article »

Servair chefs make a weekly ‘surprise’ appearance onboard an Air France flight

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Food has become a new battleground for airlines with almost any major airline collaborating with a high-profile Michelin-star chef in order to lift the quality (and add credibility) of their inflight menus in Business and First.

Culinary theater
Besides upping the ante when it comes to the quality of food served to their premium passengers, airlines such as Turkish Airlines, Austrian (both served by DO&CO), Etihad and Gulf Air employ so-called Sky Chefs in order to provide an extra dimension to the inflight dining experience. Although the limitations of the onboard galley equipment allows onboard chefs to prepare little other than for example a fresh omelet egg for breakfast, they can customize the meals to passengers’ preferences, add a little culinary theater when serving the meals, and are more experienced in the precise handling of the galley equipment.

Micro events
Estonian Air, meanwhile, a few years ago came up with an innovative twist of the onboard chef concept. During one year, the airline each month asked a different Estonian restaurant to prepare a Business Class menu with the restriction that all participating restaurants had to stay within the same budget that Estonian Air reserves for its catering company, LSG Sky Chefs. Furthermore, each restaurant chef personally presented his or her menu to passengers onboard a monthly ‘gourmet flight’.

On a similar ‘experiential’ note, Virgin Australia in October 2013 surprised passengers on board a flight from Sydney to Perth with a traditional tiered-tray high tea service at 40,000 feet, designed and served by the airline’s resident chef, Luke Mangan.

Air France, meanwhile, had Michelin-starred French chef Michel Roth unveil his new gourmet creations to Air France Business class customers on board a Paris-Montreal flight in early 2013 (video here).

The airline has also listed Colin Peter Field, head bartender at the famous Hemingway Bar of the Ritz Hotel in Paris, to mix inflight cocktails for customers in La Première and Business class in November 2013 in what it called “Bar Hemingway in the Sky.” This collaboration will be continued in March of this year on an Air France flight from Paris to Tokyo, with additional destinations in 2014 to include Hong Kong, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Moscow, Singapore, and Seoul.
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Air France upcycles old life jackets and advertising posters into stylish must-haves

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By Debbie Pappyn, Classe Touriste

If you like the life jacket the flight attending is showing during her emergency presentation, you might want to check out Air France’s new cooperation with the French upcycle brand bilum. Both brands are presenting a collection of travel cases made from recycled life jackets and old advertising posters that were on display at Paris Orly airport in spring 2012.

As all life jackets have a limited lifespan, Air France has asked bilum to give them a new life, rather than destroying them. This partnership fits into Air France’s philosophy to reduce its environmental impact and to give something back to certain communities.

The first collection of 400 cases made from life jackets were launched in December 2012 and are available for sale online at Air France and Bilum at a price of 19 euros for the flat case and 24 euros including tax for the padded case.

For the moment you can still buy bags and ticket wallets made from the giant Air France canvas posters dating from summer 2012. The posters show a girl lying in the green grass on a bed of flowers in the shape of an airplane. Prices range from 69 euro to 285 euro for a bag.

All cases from bilum are manufactured in France by people with disabilities as part of a work insertion scheme by the E.S.A.T., a French organisation that aims to integrate people with disabilities into the mainstream labour market. They are hand-cut from a piece of the jacket or poster and the fabric is not changed in any way, so that each case is unique. No two items are the same.

Michellin-starred chef presents his gourmet creations on board an Air France flight

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By Debbie Pappyn, Classe Touriste

There is nothing new about celeb chefs inventing special dishes for airlines but recently Air France took it a step further by inviting a chef on board to present in person his new creations. In the past, Estionian Air already took famous Estonian chefs on board to enhance the culinary experience of its customers, now Air France is following.

Recently, Michelin-starred French chef Michel Roth unveiled his new gourmet creations to Air France Business class customers on board a Paris-Montreal flight. During this flight, passengers were able to taste four dishes prepared by the Michelin-starred chef and two Servair chefs Michel Quissac and Roger Passet. The three chefs then replied to passengers’ questions and shared their passion with a view to making this in-flight gourmet experience an exceptional interlude (video here).

The in-flight menu in more detail:
– Veal simmered with verbena, vegetable fricassee
– Glazed duckling with peppercorns, citrus honey, caramelized mango and pineapple, vegetable bâtonnets
– Pollock fish, mussel broth with Menton cured lemon zest, simmered vegetables
– Shrimp and squid with tarragon lobster sauce, red rice and baby spinach

Starting from 1st February 2013, Michel Roth will offer six new dishes on board long-haul flights departing from Paris. The chef’s new dishes will be served for a period of 8 months and will be one of the four main dishes on the menu. Also the creation will be renewed twice a month for the pleasure of frequent travellers.

Japan Airlines partners with Kentucky Fried Chicken to serve ‘Air KFC’ meal up in the air

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Japan Airlines (JAL) has developed a reputation when it comes to collaborating with well-known consumer brands in order to add an extra touch to the onboard experience, a practice dubbed ‘Branded Brands’ by trendwatching.com.

Branded amenities
For example, JAL has recently launched partnerships with Shisheido to develop special in-flight menus to celebrate the 5th anniversary of its domestic First Class during December 2012, while a collaboration with Jean-Paul Hévin will see JAL serving macarons from the French master chocolatier in First Class and Business Class until January 2013. Meanwhile, passengers In Premium Economy are served icecream from artisan brand Dean & DeLuca.

In First Class, JAL offers passengers Bose noise-cancelling headphones, as well as pillows and an extra matrass pad that have been custom-made for the airline by Tempur. JAL’s upcoming ‘Sky Suite’ B777-300 aircraft will feature pillows and matrass pads made by Japanese specialty brand Airweave in First and Business, while the airline’s new 777s and B787 Dreamliners feature so-called ‘washlet’ toilets from Japanese sanitary brand TOTO.

For more on how airlines can improve the passenger experience by teaming up with well-known brands, see our article for the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX).

‘JAL AIR Series’
In recent years, JAL has also partnered with several Japanese fast food chains in order to recreate their signature dishes as in-flight meal and offer passengers a taste of Japan at 30,000 feet. Following earlier collaborations with local food chains such as Mosburger (AIR Mosburger), Yoshinoya (AIR Yoshinoya) and Edosei (AIR Nikuman), JAL has just announced its latest partnership with fastfood chain Kentucky Fried Chicken, the 7th collaboration in the ‘JAL AIR Series’.
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TAM’s new First Class recreates a living room up in the air

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

TAM, the ambitious flag carrier of Brazil which earlier this year merged with LAN from Chile to create a Latin American airline giant, has just unveiled new cabin interiors – designed by Priestmangoode – to mark its arrival on the world stage.

Says Priestmangoode Director Luke Hawes: “Our work for TAM is crucial to their brand development, giving them the customer experience they need as they move up to become a major international carrier. The designs we will roll out across their entire fleet will present them as an important international player and give them the tools they need to compete with the world’s other major international carriers.”

Interior redesign
In 2009, TAM hired Priestmangoode to redesign the entire onboard experience – from cabin architecture, seats, galleys and lavatories to staff uniforms, in-flight amenities and the graphic user interface (GUI) of the IFE system. According to TAM Brand Manager Ricardo Cruz, the airline aims “to put TAM on the map” with the new cabin interior program, which is “inspired by everything Brazil has got to offer.” A nice illustration of this is the floor pattern of the bathrooms which is inspired by the famous Copacabana sidewalks in Rio de Janeiro.

Four classes
TAM’s new cabin interior has already made its debut on three new Boeing 777-300ERs delivered to the airline in the past few weeks. The new B777s can seat 368 passengers in 4 classes: First, Business, Space + and Economy.

TAM’s Economy cabin has received a colourful makeover and features rows of seats – manufactured by Weber – in various bright colours that reflect the carrier’s Brazilian origin: lime green, aqua blue and a brighter shade of TAM’s corporate red. TAM will also introduce a new ‘Space +’ product, which offers similar seats as in Economy, but with a larger seat pitch and recline, as well as a different seat colour. Read full article »

WestJet teams up with local restaurants across Canada to serve fresh sandwiches sourced from the city of departure

By Nikos Loukas, InflightFeed

On many flights originating in Canada, WestJet offers a little taste of home. Whether it’s a meaty Spolumbo’s sandwich from Calgary, a Thai chicken wrap from Vancouver’s Bread Garden or the smoky pastrami from Au Pain Doré in Montreal, WestJet is offering an increasing number of locally made fresh sandwiches on most flights over 2.5 hours in length. All sandwiches cost CAD 6.50 (CAD 6 when pre-ordered).

“We want to offer our guests onboard menu items that will enhance their WestJet experience and support the communities we serve,” says WestJet’s On Board Product Manager Layne Ward. “Being able to partner with local caterers to offer guests a wide variety of fresh sandwiches is ideal.”

The sandwich story all started in 2010 in Calgary with a WestJet executive’s penchant for the chewy Italian sandwiches created by three ex-Calgary Stampeders football players at the local Spolumbo’s restaurant. “They were here having lunch, talking about airplane food, and wondering why it couldn’t be more local and more fresh,” says Tony Spoletini, one of the owners of the popular Italian sausage shop and deli.

Local, fresh
The Spolumbo’s crew signed on for a test run and, when guests gobbled up their airline sandwiches, WestJet looked for entrepreneurs in other Canadian cities to expand the program. Now, fresh and unique sandwiches are loaded on board every day from caterers and delis in Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Hamilton, London, Montreal and St. John’s.
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Finnair partners with iconic Finnish designers Marimekko for inflight amenities

By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir

Finnair‘s inflight product has always been efficient, clean and simple, perhaps seen by most as more ‘bland’ than ‘brand’. However, they have recently launched a brand new partnership with Finnish designer Marimekko to provide them with new table-wear and fabrics for their airline.

Marimekko’s simple and elegant retro prints are all about great splashes of colour and with this injection into the airline, they will bring the fun back to flying Finnair, targetting specifically their Asian routes.

Finnair earlier this month showed off their new Marimekko liveried A340, that is adorned with Maija Isola’s iconic ‘Unikko’ flower motif, currently flying Asia routes from Finland. In the spring, when the new in-flight products will be rolled out, a second Marimekko livery with join the long haul fleet.

Stated on the reveal of the new design partnership, “Finnair has a strong design heritage, and this cooperation brings our design thinking to a new level,” says Mika Vehviläinen, Finnair CEO. “Our goal is to become a design airline, and bring our customers unique experiences for all five senses. Cooperation with Marimekko is an important step towards this target. Finnair aircraft will become roving ambassadors of timeless Finnish design and creativity, giving our customers a special experience when they fly with us.”

They will eventually be selling limited edition Marimekko-Finnair products onboard, in a move recently taken by KLM with their design partnership with Hella Jongerius for their Wold Business Class cabin, also being launched next year.
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Cathay Pacific teams up with local lifestyle brand G.O.D. for new amenity kits

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Cathay Pacific has unveiled its new amenity kits for Premium Economy Class passengers which feature exclusive designs by home-grown Hong Kong brand G.O.D. (which stands for Goods of Desire). Cathay says its design collaboration with G.O.D. took inspiration from the “vibrant culture of Hong Kong, where East meets West and age-old traditions blend with cutting-edge technology.”

G.O.D. is a leading Hong Kong lifestyle brand, whose self-proclaimed mission is to “define a new Asian derived lifestyle concept as an alternative to the established Western way of living.” The company designs and retails stylish, affordable home furnishings and tableware, as well as some fashion items and “signature items with a quirky Hong Kong feel.”

Local design
Cathay Pacific General Manager Product Toby Smith said: “As Hong Kong’s home carrier, Cathay Pacific supports local design and creative culture. G.O.D. is known for its fun, niche and lifestyle designs, which is a good fit for our Premium Economy Class. The plan is to have four designs per year, two outbound and two inbound. The hope is that they will become real collectibles and that passengers can look forward to receiving a new design every time they travel.”

The first two designs on board are called ‘Joy’ and ’Fortune’. The ‘Joy’ design depicts Chinese gods enjoying themselves inflight by sipping coffee, using the computer or reading, and is available on flights departing Hong Kong, while the ‘Fortune’ design features a Chinese-style image of auspicious clouds and will be distributed on inbound flights. The kits will be progressively made available in Premium Economy for long haul flights from mid-October.
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Copenhagen Airport goes local with foodmarket and apartment-style lounge

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Airports have often be called ‘non-places’: generic environments such as shopping malls, business parks or gas stations which can be found everywhere and are completely devoid of local identity. Says Hunter Glayton from architecture and design firm Gensler, “Many airports lack a distinct sense of place. They fail to reflect the culture of their host cities, preventing travellers from experiencing their terminals as unique spaces. By not establishing a sense of character within their walls, these airports miss out on an opportunity to elevate passengers’ travel experience.”

This type of airport experience is changing fast however (f.e. see this recent Washington Post article “The New Generation of Airports”) and following earlier ‘localization’ initiatives by airports such as Amsterdam Schiphol (Holland Boulevard), Tokyo Haneda (Edo Market), and Helsinki Vantaa (Almost @Home Lounge), we recently spotted two new examples at Copenhagen Kastrup Airport.

Foodmarket
At Copenhagen Kastrup, food & beverage operator SSP has recently opened a new deli concept called Foodmarket, which is based on Danish nutrition expert Louise Bruun’s 80/20 principle of eating wholesome food most of the time, but also leaving room for less-healthy indulgences.

Foodmarket features dishes made from fresh, organic produce including soups, hot wraps, salads, freshly baked organic bread and made-to-order sandwiches, burgers and juices, as well as cookies, cakes and snacks. All suppliers have been carefully selected to support the concept, which is the result of a partnership between SSP and well-known Copenhagen restaurateurs Jakob Blom and Kristian Willumsen, in order to “develop a credible universe based on the principles of proximity, sustainability and close collaboration with our suppliers.”

Furthermore, tapping into the current ‘DIY health’ trend of consumers wanting and being able to track their eating behaviour, the amount of excercise they have, etcetera, Foodmarket customers can access the nutritional facts of the food on offer by scanning QR codes using one of the iPads available in the deli.
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Virgin America passengers can register for the US elections at 35,000ft

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Virgin America on 14 August celebrated  its new service between San Francisco and Reagan National Airport in suburban Washington, D.C., with an election-themed inaugural flight. Along for the ride were presidential impersonators Jim Gossett as “Mitt” and Reggie Brown as “Barack,” who spent the flight chatting with travellers en route to the capital of the USA as they handed out American flags.

Another reason why “Barack” and “Mitt” joined passengers onboard the first flight was to help “get out the vote” at 35,000 feet, as part of a partnership between Virgin America and Rock The Vote, the largest non-partisan voter registration organization in the USA.

QR codes
In an effort to sign up 1.5 million new voters, Rock the Vote has been using non-traditional ways to engage the public, for example by placing QR codes on T-shirts, and as part of the registration drive with Virgin America, fliers on all Virgin America flights now can scan a QR code on the airline’s in-flight entertainment system in order to register to vote.

How it works: Passengers tap on the screen of Virgin America’s ‘RED’ seatback entertainment platform to select the voter registration page in the ‘Make a Difference’ section on the system. They then connect to the in-flight Wi-Fi system with their mobile phone and scan the QR code on the IFE page in order to receive an election registration app on their mobile device. Passengers can then choose either to pay for in-flight Wi-Fi and sign up immediately, or wait until they land to access the app and sign up to vote. Passengers can also make a donation to Rock the Vote by swiping their credit card, while on the inaugural flight each passenger received a Rock the Vote t-shirt.
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