JetBlue reminds a divided America to ‘reach across the aisle’

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

As the U.S. election season rolls onward, the rhetoric has become nastier and lines become increasingly divided, JetBlue’s latest ad is a tongue-in-cheek reprimand of the increasingly polarized American political environment and aims to show how far compromise and consensus can take you instead.

Reach out across the aisle
At the end of February the airline organized what it called a ‘social experiment’, offering 150 unsuspecting passengers the chance to travel on any of its 20 domestic or international destinations for free. But before they could take off on the trip, there was one catch – JetBlue asked strangers on the plane to “reach across the aisle” to make an unanimous decision, meaning every single passenger had to agree on the destination before their six-hour flight from Boston landed in Phoenix.

A four-minute video (over 1 million views) documenting the micro event shows passengers discuss – should they go domestic or international? What if they didn’t have passports? –  and vote, with some passengers even taking to the intercom to espouse the merits of their favourite destination.

The options were eventually narrowed down to Costa Rica and Turks and Caicos Islands, with Costa Rica emerging as the winner after 90 minutes. As the announcer says at the end of the video, “If people compromise and come together, all parties can win.”

Bigger conversation
“JetBlue is one of those brands that is very comfortable being involved with the bigger conversation,” MullenLowe executive creative director Tim Vaccarino told Adweek. “This being one of the most polarizing political climates in history, we saw an opportunity to make a comment about what’s truly possible when we all work together.”

“We’ve seen so much news coverage lately that paints the picture of a society becoming increasingly polarized and politicians incapable of working together,” said Elizabeth Windram, the airline’s director of brand management and advertising. “This video is our way of questioning that assumption.”

Chinese airports introduce female-only and male-only security lanes

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Tackling the airport security bottleneck is one of the main priorities for airports and airlines around the world with technology playing a major role in initiatives such as IATA’s ‘Smart Security’ program and Air France-KLM’s inventive biometrics-based ‘Happy Flow’ project.

Low-tech approaches
However, as a broad rollout of these advanced solutions is still some time away, several airports have come up with creative ‘low-tech’ approaches in order to help passengers navigate security faster.

For example, back in 2008 the US Transport Security Adminstration (TSA) introduced a scheme that let travellers self-select their security lanes based on their familiarity with checkpoint procedures. Modeled on signage used at ski resorts to rate a slope’s difficulty, travellers could choose between ‘black diamond’, ‘blue’ and ‘green’ lanes. However, the system was terminated several years later.

A few years ago, Pittsburgh Airport tested an interesting idea called ‘Express Security Lane’ which was reserved for passengers travelling with only one carry-on bag, while Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport provides an online service, called SecurXpress, that allows passengers to be assigned a time slot to pass through security screening, rather than queuing up at a random time.

Female-only security lanes
Another way to segment passengers at the security check has recently been introduced by Beijing Capital International Airport, which in early February opened female-only security lanes in the run up to China’s Spring travel season.

The new service at Beijing Capital aims to help speed up security checks by 15 percent at the airport, which is one of the world’s busiest. Airport officials have analyzed that, while normal lanes process 120 to 130 people per hour, female-only lanes can process 20 more people per hour.

The reason for this is that in China female passengers can only be checked by female security officers. Civil Aviation Security Check Regulations specify that “Pat-down procedures should be completed by officers of the same sex; when the traveler is a woman, only female officers can carry out the check.” Read full article »

Qantas Frequent Flyer launches health insurance; members can earn miles by excercising

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Many airline passengers lament the traditional loyalty program format, which has become somewhat antiquated and can take forever to produce any useable benefit. But in a new loyalty tie-up with Aussie health insurance provider nib, Qantas is demonstrating that it understands how to engage people in a digital world.

Beginning later this year, Qantas Frequent Flyer program members can purchase Qantas Assure, a range of health insurance products powered by nib. Those who sign up can also earn Qantas Points faster than with flying alone, because they will collect points for achieving fitness goals.

Mobile app
Qantas Assure customers will be able to download an app to a number of different wearable and mobile devices.

Using the app, members will be able to choose from a variety of daily or weekly targets depending on their lifestyles, with the number of frequent flyer points earned increasing with the size of the target. The app will monitor (by counting steps, for example) the customer as he or she progresses through the challenge and reward completion with Qantas Points that can be used on flights, upgrades, hotels, car hire, at the Qantas store, and more.

Eventually, points will be able to be earned for other forms of physical activity beyond walking and running. Qantas says its Assure plan will start with health insurance, but will expand to other types of insurance in future.

Popularity of fitness trackers
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Qantas said there were estimates around one-quarter of Australians now own a fitness tracker, but fewer than one in five Australians took the recommended 10,000 steps per day.

Qantas Loyalty chief executive Lesley Grant said the idea behind Qantas Assure came from members saying they wanted to be rewarded for leading a more active lifestyle. About half of those polled during research said they would be more active if they were rewarded. Read full article »

Airlines and airports let passengers pre-order food via mobile apps

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This article also appeared in the December/January 2016 edition of Onboard Hospitality Magazine.

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Consumer behavior is changing. Smartphones make it quick and hassle-free to order goods online, or flag a taxi via Uber. This always-on, on-demand economy has generated a sense of entitlement to fast, simple, and efficient experiences as it taps into consumers’ appetite for greater convenience, speed, and simplicity. For example, analysis from Uber shows the longer Uber has been in a city, the less willing to wait for a car everyone becomes.

In the food and beverage industry, ordering and paying for food and beverages via tablet devices has become the new normal at casual dining chains such as Applebees and Chili’s across the USA, while airport restaurateur OTG has installed thousands of food-ordering iPads at half a dozen U.S. airports.

And a growing number of airlines – including Virgin America, Air New Zealand, Norwegian, Azul and Finnair – allow passengers to order meals, snacks and drinks via the IFE system in between regular meal services, while passengers onboard leisure carrier TUI Netherlands can order drinks and duty free via their own smartphone.

Skipping the queue
Saving consumers even more time, Starbucks this fall rolled out an order-ahead mobile application across all of its 7,000 stores in the USA, as well as across 150 Starbucks locations in London. As soon as people have ordered, the app gives them an approximate pickup time, and Starbucks estimates customers can save between 10 and 15 minutes using this option. A similar service is being tested by fast food chains McDonalds and Wendy’s.

At multiple airports in the USA, passenger can pre-order meals from airport restaurants, using mobile apps such as Grab, AirGrub and HMS Hosts’ B4 You Board, which saves them having to queue up for food and drinks, and provides some peace of mind for those who are running late for their flight.

Passengers using these pre-order apps select an airport restaurant, place an order, pay and schedule a time to pick up their meal. When they arrive at the restaurant in the departure hall the freshly made meal is waiting to be collected. Orders can be placed days in advance, or even when passengers are queuing at the security checkpoint. Read full article »

Japanese LCC Peach goes low-cost with cardboard check-in kiosks

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By Ryan Ghee, Future Travel Experience

Japanese low-cost carrier Peach has unveiled its inventive new self-service check-in kiosks, which are the first airline kiosks made largely of cardboard.

Cardboard has been used for the exterior of the kiosks, making it easier for the carrier to update branding and advertising imagery, and reducing the overall manufacturing and transportation costs.

Cardboard and touch-screen displays
Peach worked with Yaneura Design on the design of the new kiosks, which are taller than the previous generation of kiosks to help them stand out in the terminal. At 32 inches, the touch-screen display is 17 inches larger than the 15-inch screen found on conventional kiosks.

The large screen can be divided into two [image], allowing the carrier to display advertising or promotional content alongside the step-by-step self-service check-in instructions. The top half of the screen can also be used to prompt passengers waiting in line to have their passport ready, to help speed up the check-in process.

To make the experience as intuitive as possible for passengers, the kiosks automatically select the language that was used at the time of booking.

80 percent cost reduction
According to the airline, when compared to the cost of manufacturing traditional check-in machines of the same size, the new check-in kiosks can be delivered at approximately 20 percent of the cost.

Five of the new kiosks have been installed in Osaka Kansai Airport’s low-cost Terminal 2.

Lufthansa airport ‘pods’ let parents record a bedtime story for their kids

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This case appears in the November 2015 edition of the Airline Marketing Benchmark, a monthly premium report by airlinetrends.com and Simpliflying that identifies the latest innovative marketing campaigns recently launched by airlines around the world. Learn more »

Stories are an important part of childhood. Not only do children learn language or lessons about how the world works, but storytelling also forms a strong bond between parents and their kids. Reading rituals are important, but working parents who travel a lot have to miss out sometimes. What if they could tell bedtime stories even though they have to catch a plane?

That’s the premise behind Lufthansa’s latest marketing campaign – called Bedtime Stories (video). The airline has installed a mobile recording studio – in the shape of a moon – at a departure gate at Frankfurt Airport, which invites parents to record their favorite bedtime story as an audio book in their own voice, and then send it their kids at home via email or text message. Children then click on the link and gets redirected to the microsite where they can download or listen directly. A second recording pod will be installed at Munich Airport as well.

If time at the gate is too short to read a whole book, there are pre-recorded audiobooks to choose from, narrated by well-known German voices, such as actor Axel Prahl. Moms and dads can add a personal good-night-wish and a photo of themselves to the story. Lufthansa has worked with several publishing companies to offer a large selection of popular children’s books to choose from.

The Bedtime Stories ‘studios’ can be found at the airports of Frankfurt and Munich from mid October through the end of the year and will be supported with traditional advertisements via social media (hashtag #LufthansaStories) and the Lufthansa’s magazines.

“Travelling is always an emotional experience: Farewell and greeting, a change of place and culture, wanderlust and homesickness,” says Alexander Schlaubitz, Head of Marketing at Lufthansa. “We want to make every passenger feel as though they are in good hands.”

Air New Zealand to track unaccompanied minors via digital bracelet and mobile app

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

The ubiquity of personal devices, the availability to be connected anywhere, and the self-service mindset of travellers, has created a momentum that sees many of today’s passenger experience innovations taking place in the digital realm.

For example, Air New Zealand – already noted for its adoption of digital technologies – recently announced it has created the new role of ‘Chief Digital Officer’, as part of a rethink of how the airline approached digital innovation.

The New Zealand Herald also reports that Air New Zealand has just unveiled a host of digital novelties aimed at removing customer pain points, and is working on the development and introduction of permanent digital bag tags, biometric scanners for luggage dropoff, electronic departure cards, and a tracking system for kids flying alone using digital wristbands.

Some of these digital services will be introduced at the end of the year, while others are being looked at as a possibility for the future.

Tracking unaccompanied minors
One eye-catching innovation are the digital wristbands for unaccompanied minors (kids who are flying without their parents). Taking a cue from Disney’s ‘Magic Band’, Air New Zealand is planning to introduce an electronic tracking system for the 28,000 unaccompanied minors it carries per year. The high-tech bracelets replace a paper system and aim to provide parents with more peace of mind, as they will be able to receive real-time information on where their child is during the journey.

How it works: According to the NZ Herald, unaccompanied minors will be offered a silicon wrist band in the colour of their choice which contains a chip that connects to a mobile application.

The app will allow Air New Zealand employees to easily identify the child and send intermittent text messages to parents and family of the child, notifying them where their child is in the flight process and how they are doing. Read full article »

TUI first airline to let passengers order food, beverages, duty free via their own devices

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Images from MI Airline. Arke’s ‘TUI Cloud’ is branded in the airline’s colours

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

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.

TUI Cloud
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 »

JetBlue installs free book vending machines in low-literacy neighbourhoods

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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 »

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 »

Delta’s ‘Early Valet’ service preloads passengers’ hand- luggage to speed up boarding

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

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 »

Delta lets passengers on domestic routes track checked bags in real-time and guarantees a 20-minute delivery

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

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 »

Charity organizations get creative in raising donations from travellers at the airport

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By Malgorzata Lach, smartaer.com

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 »

AirlineTrends and LIFT help airlines take a 360° look at the passenger experience

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AirlineTrends founder Raymond Kollau and LIFT Strategic Design founder Daniel Baron will be present at the upcoming Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg from 13 to 15 April. Please contact Raymond at info [at] airlinetrends [dot] com if you would like to meet, or download our PAXEX360 workshop brochure.

AirlineTrends and LIFT Strategic Design launch PAXEX360 workshops

Fierce competition, rapid evolution of technology, shorter product life cycles, and ever evolving customer expectations are forcing airlines to take a 360º view of the passenger experience in order to differentiate themselves, whether they are a full-service, hybrid or low-cost carrier.

AirlineTrends (Amsterdam) and LIFT Strategic Design (Tokyo) have joined forces to provide airlines with on-site PAXEX360 workshop sessions that explore trends in the airline passenger experience, followed by interactive discussions where key staff identify priorities for future product, service and brand development.

FROM TRENDS TO PRODUCT AND SERVICE INNOVATION
This partnership provides airlines with a service that combines an understanding of the big ‘PAXEX’ picture with expertise in creating design solutions and thinking through the implications.

The PAXEX360 workshops provide participants with:
– a better insight into consumer/passenger trends and needs
– a quick way to understand the latest product and service industry standards and innovations
– an effective platform for identifying key strategic objectives and priorities in further developing the passenger experience

Combining AirlineTrends’ expertise in passenger experience research with LIFT Strategic Design’s expertise in concept development and implementation, the PAXEX360 workshops consist of two elements:

1. OVERVIEW OF THE LATEST TRENDS AND INNOVATIONS » Who is doing what, where, and why?
This session familiarizes airline management with passenger experience trends throughout the world in every phase of the customer journey – from design and technology to marketing and service delivery – and is illustrated with many recent innovations from airlines around the world.

2. IN-DEPTH INTERACTIVE DISCUSSION » Where do we go from here?
Faciltated by LIFT Strategic Design founder Daniel Baron and airlinetrends.com founder Raymond Kollau, key representatives from your company explore customer experience development in the context of the trends discussed, identifying target areas for future action. Read full article »

HK Express lets passengers make contactless in-flight payments with their mass transit smart card

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

In many Asian cities, smart cards – prepaid rechargeable contactless payment cards – are a common phenomenon. For example, in Hong Kong, consumers use the Octopus smart card to make electronic payments offline and online. Launched in 1997 to collect fares for the territory’s mass transit system, the Octopus card is the second largest contactless smart card system in the world, after South Korea’s Upass, and has also led to the development of London’s Oyster Card.

Many smartcards in East Asia have a wide variety of uses. For example, besides public transportation fees, the Octopus can also be used for payments in many retail shops in Hong Kong – from convenience stores, supermarkets, fast-food restaurants, parking meters to vending machines. Other systems, such as Suica in Japan, EasyCard in Taipei and EZ-Link in Singapore, can also been used for many non-transportation purposes.

Now, two airlines in Asia are allowing passengers to make in-flight payments with the same smart cards they use to make everyday payments on the ground.

HK Express x Octopus Card
Hong Kong-based low-cost carrier HK Express recently partnered with Octopus Cards to launch an in-flight Octopus-based payment service. Passengers on all HK Express flights can use their regular Octopus card to purchase in-flight items, including food, beverages, discounted transportation and event tickets, and onboard upgrades for HK Express’ extra legroom ‘sweet seats’.

To accommodate the Octopus card, HK Express obtained new payment terminals with Octopus’ sensor technology. To make a payment, passengers simply hold their card near the sensor and within seconds the payment is made.

Commenting on the initiative, HK Express Deputy CEO Andrew Cowen stated, “Octopus is part of the fabric of Hong Kong life and transportation. HK Express is proud to be the first Hong Kong-based airline in bringing this much-loved Hong Kong icon into the skies, offering our guests the ultimate on-board ease and convenience.” Read full article »

Chinese LCC Spring Airlines trials faster boarding procedure using fruit signs

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

We have reported several times before how airlines target the rapidly growing middle classes in emerging markets in innovative ways. For example, in Brazil TAM sells tickets via kiosks located at low-end retail chains and at subway stations. The airline also allows customers to pay their ticket in multiple installments and provides ‘how to fly’ advice to first-time flyers.

In East Africa, airlines such as Kenya Airways and Uganda Airlines have partnered with ‘mobile money’ providers like M-PESA and Airtel Money to allow people without a bank account to purchase air tickets via their mobile phone, while in the Philippines, Phillipine Airlines lets customers without a credit card book their ticket online and then pay at a nearby 7 Eleven store.

First-time flyers
Another airline that has come up with creative ideas to accommodate the large group of first-time flyers is Chinese low-cost carrier Spring Airlines.

Spring Airlines has trialled a new boarding strategy by using fruit signs to guide passengers – especially those who travel by air for the first time – as seat numbers can be hard to find and can be confusing for those who have little experience in travelling by air.

During the Chinese New Year travel season Spring Airlines was expecting a large number of novice passengers and the airline used a visual solution to help passengers find their seats more quickly and and ease congestion in the aisles.

On February 11, passengers on flight 9C8881 between Shanghai and Shenzhen found 4 different fruit signs printed on their boarding passes which corresponded to the seats in four sections – rows 1-2 (blueberry), rows 3-12 (kiwi), rows 13-21 (apple) and rows 22-33 (tangerine). Read full article »