CABIN / SEATS

Delta upcycles aircraft seat covers into fashionable bags

Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials, which would otherwise go to landfill, into new products or materials of better quality. Companies like Tierra Ideas in the U.S and WornAgain (slogan: “Every product has got a story to tell”) in the UK work with large corporations to create fashionable upcycled products. The benefits are three-fold: waste is recycled, companies add an eco-friendly touch to their brands, and many consumers like the story behind the upcycled product. 

Tierra Ideas  just announced its new 2010 ‘Aero’ bags collection in partnership with Delta Air Lines. Delta has donated worn and retired seat covers, blankets and curtains from its aircraft as well as from all Northwest aircraft that were refurbished when Delta acquired Northwest in 2008. After separating the fabrics by pattern (frequent fliers will recognize the different Northwest and Delta patterns) Tierra Ideas has turned them into messenger bags (price: USD219), laptop sleeves (USD55), and duffle bags (USD62). 
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Brazil’s national aviation agency to introduce legroom-rating label

Starting March 2011, airlines in Brazil must inform passengers how much legroom their economy class seats will have on their flights. Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) has developed a five-tiered ranking system that assigns a letter grade and color to seat pitch and seat width. The label is modelled on those used in the sale of white goods and cars. The airlines will have to inform passengers the available seat space at the time of purchase. The rankings will also be displayed on a label right near the seat. ANAC says the aim of the label is to prepare people for what to expect when it comes to their in-flight comfort.

The ratings range from A — indicating at least 73 centimeters (28.7 inches) from headrest to headrest — with each category going down in two-centimeter increments. An E rating indicates less than 67 centimeters (26.4 inches) between seats. Exit and bulkhead rows are excluded from the rankings. The initiative was created by ANAC after Defense Minister Nelson Jobim, who is 6 foot 3 inches (1.92m) tall, complained publicly how he tried to squeeze into an economy seat. The agency believes Brazil may be the first country to introduce such a system.
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ANA introduces women-only lavatories on long-haul flights

All Nippon Airways (ANA) has introduced women-only lavatories on its long-haul flights. One lavatory has been designated in the rear section of the passenger cabin and is available to female passengers from all classes. The bathroom will display a pink version of the universal sign for a ladies’ room as a way to let male travelers know to look for another option. Men are allowed to use the lavatory only in emergencies or when there were very few female passengers on the flight. Women can still use any other lavatory. 

ANA decided to designate a ladies-only lavatory based on a 2007 online survey in which 90 percent of the women polled said they favoured such a service. Demand for women-only toilets was especially high among passengers taking long flights. As to why women travellers want female-only toilets, ANA says they are tired of long queues for the lavatory. A handful of women also told the airline they won’t queue up for a toilet if there are men in the queue. Interestingly, ANA says 70 percent of male passengers surveyed say they don’t mind it, and some even welcomed the idea because it means less time queuing up after the ladies for the toilet.
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Air New Zealand goes lie-flat in Economy Class

Air New Zealand (ANZ) has unveiled a new economy class seat dubbed the ‘Skycouch’, to give economy passengers a lie-flat experience once reserved for premium cabins. The Skycouch is made up of three standard economy seats that can be changed into a single, horizontal space by removing arm rests.

The seats, designed by the airline in cooperation with IDEO and built by manufacturer Recaro, have large flip-up cushions that fill the space between the end of the seat and the next row of seats. When all three seats are reclined with the footrests up, they form a flat surface 156 cm long and 76 cm wide on which two adults can sleep (a standard single bed is 190 by 90 cm). Seat-belt extenders enable passengers to be buckled in when prone.

Individual travelers can buy the Skycouch seats, but ANZ has designed them chiefly for couples and families with young children. Passengers would need to buy the three seats together, and pay the full price for two economy seats and half price for the third.

Twenty-two sets of Skycouch seats (about a quarter of all economy seats) will be available, being the first 11 window rows on either side of the economy cabin. Every seat also comes with in-seat power and USB connections.
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Smart tray table cover designs help keep kids busy inflight

A new range of smartly designed products is helping to ease air travel easier for parents traveling with kids. Dubbed ‘inflight entertainment for kids’, these sleeve-style play centers can be slided over any airplane seat tray table, turning it into an activity center, so infants can be kept busy when in flight. 

For toddlers aged 6 to 24 months, the Air Play is a double-sided tray table cover activity center that is designed to fit over most airplane tray tables. It has different features on each side so that a child can play whether the tray table is down or stowed in its upright and locked position. The brightly colored tray cover’s activities include a crinkle strip, repositionable geometric shapes, different color ball beads,  an oversized buckle, button and zipper, as well as a peek-a-boo mirror; a photo album, and a mesh pocket that contains a soft dog character rattle toy. The Air Play Tray Table Cover retails for USD29.99 (EUR22.50/GBP20) and is available through online retailers such as Amazon.com and Babies R Us.
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Qantas launches onboard recycling scheme

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Qantas has just rolled out an inflight recycling scheme on its domestic routes. The airline is asking passengers to assist by separating their recyclable items for collection by the cabin crew, and place all other items in a special bag. Qantas says its onboard recycling initiative gives passengers the opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of their journey. With the new program the airline plans to recycle approximately eight-and-a-half million bottles, cups, tumblers and cans per year from its domestic services. Qantas says it already recycles newspapers on board (nearly 500 tonnes a year in Sydney and Melbourne) and glass and plastic bottles, papers and cans are recycled in Qantas Club lounges. Overall, Qantas aims to achieve a 25 per cent reduction in landfill use by 2011.

Qantas’ inflight recycling initiative follows earlier trials by Virgin Blue in which cabin crew were trained to separate recyclable waste from food scraps and other matter while collecting passengers’ rubbish before landing. A few years ago the airline also installed recycling bins at Sydney Airport.
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Asiana’s ‘Happy Mom’ service helps make life easier for flying families

South Korea-based Asiana Airlines is rolling out a new service to make life easier for families traveling with infants. Asiana’s somewhat traditionally named ‘Happy Mom’ service lets young families use dedicated check-in counters at the airport, and onboard the airline provides free breast feeding nursing covers, baby slings, and car seat-like baby seats. 

More specifically, on the ground Asiana provides what it calls the ‘3E services’ – Express Check In, Express Boarding and Express Baggage – to allow young families to shorten the waiting period at airports. Acknowledging that mothers face difficulties in feeding their infants onboard (usually, feeding takes place in the toilets or the galleys of the aircraft), Asiana provides breastfeeding covers, which allow mothers to remain in their seat, and at the same time have some privacy when feeding their baby. For parents with infants that are too large or heavy (often babies older than 6 months) to fit in a bassinet, Asiana  in association with Agabang, a Korean manufacturer of baby products, developed an infant sling, so parents can sit more comfortable with their baby during the flight. Parents of older toddlers can also request a baby safety seat to be installed, so they do not have to bring their own.
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Southwest’s ‘Green Plane’ to test eco-friendly interior materials

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Southwest Airlines has designated a 4-year old Boeing 737-700 ‘Green Plane’ to serve as a test-aircraft for a series of sustainable interior materials. For example, a 100 percent recyclable carpet is installed in sections, eliminating the need for total replacement of areas such as aisles, where Southwest currently uses 1 single piece of carpet. The carpet is returned to the manufacturer at the end of its service life and completely re-manufactured into new carpet. Also, two new leather seat covers (one recycled and one a leather substitute) will be tested, which are more durable and almost two pounds per seat lighter. To reduce weight, a lighter weight fill from foam in the back of the seats reduces weight, as well as life vest pouches made from canvas, instead of metal.

Overall, the uses more weigh-efficient materials  save the new plane approximately five pounds (2.3 kg) per seat, adding up to about a 472-pound (214 kg) difference, which is said to reduce 9,500 gallons (nearly 36,000 liters) of fuel each year. Additionally, Southwest expects the eco-friendly products to be more durable, which will save on materials and labor.
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