AirlineTrends http://www.robmurphylaw.com AirlineTrends is an independent trend watching agency that keeps the pulse on the latest trends and innovations in the global airline industry. We report many of our latest findings on this website and in our free newsletter. Mon, 24 Dec 2018 11:44:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.9 KLM’s new Amsterdam flagship lounge has zones inspired by the Netherlands, including a ‘Dutch Mountain’ http://www.robmurphylaw.com/2018/12/24/klm-new-flagship-lounge-amsterdam-schiphol-dutch-mountain/ Mon, 24 Dec 2018 04:01:03 +0000 http://www.robmurphylaw.com/?p=11141

This article originally appeared on THE DESIGNAIR

DATE Just shy of KLM’s centenary, the airline has opened the first stage of its brand new lounge at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport. The lounge – designed by Amsterdam-based Concrete – now boasts a completely new setup, set over tiered layers, with a ‘trendy’ ambience.

The lounge features the latest technologies and innovations along with improved service and catering. While this is just a taster of what is yet to come, customers can already take advantage of this in a temporary setup while refurbishment of the second part of the lounge continues until its festive opening in summer 2019.

Catering to KLM’s premium customers travelling on intercontinental flights, the international KLM Crown Lounge is located between the E and F Piers at Schiphol.

The lounge has a new impressive entrance on the Schiphol’s so-called ‘Holland Boulevard’. Customers? access the lounge by escalator (or elevator) and pass glass walls that contain five thousand of KLM’s iconic Delft Blue houses on their way up.

The lounge facilities are located on the second floor and on a newly opened, completely rejuvenated third floor. Passengers are welcomed individually by personal lounge assistance and can gain easy access by scanning their boarding passes at self-service devices.

Images from InsideFlyer, more images here

The new decor of the KLM non-Schengen Crown Lounge focuses on providing customers with a completely new experience. KLM has set up different zones to satisfy the diverse requirements of its customers: work, relaxation, food & drink, entertainment and fine dining.

The new lounge is divided into five zones: ‘Polder’ for working and ‘Sea’ voor ‘relaxing’ (including showers and sleep cabins). In ‘City’ passengers can eat and drink, the ‘Dutch Mountain’ is for entertainment, while passengers can fine dine for a fee in ‘Sky’.

Dutch creativity and humour is displayed on the Dutch Mountain, a giant wooden, liveable staircase, connecting the Polder Lounge on the first with the Sky on the second floor. Various landing platforms offer places to linger around, two storey high display cabinets present an impressive collection of established and upcoming Dutch designs. On the rear side, the mountain folds down and offers an intimate screening room.

The Dutch Mountain is literally the highest point featuring the work of Dutch Designers such as Marcel Wanders and Piet Hein Eek. Company pride also radiates from an exhibition of a wide range of collectables, such as aircraft cards from the 1940s and china service with the KLM logo.

Currently, customers can already enjoy the Dutch Mountain for entertainment, and the new Sky zone bar on the third floor. The ‘Polder’ zone also opened this month, with a temporary setup offering extra capacity – until the renovation process concludes in summer 2019.

Once renovated completely, the KLM Crown lounge will offer around 1,500 seats in comparison with the previous 800 and will boast a surface area of 6,800 m2 compared to the current 3,600 m2.

]]>
From Lounge to Cabin: China Airlines’ branded premium passenger experience http://www.robmurphylaw.com/2018/12/21/from-lounge-to-cabin-china-airlines-premium-passenger-experience/ Fri, 21 Dec 2018 09:50:15 +0000 http://www.robmurphylaw.com/?p=11131

DATE Airline passenger experience innovations can be nicely summarized along the lines of the customer experience dichotomy of ‘time well saved’ (e.g, removing friction, with a strong focus on digital innovation) and ‘time well spent (e.g, creating branded and/or experiential spaces).

Following our trip last year on Finnair’s A350 to report on the airline’s ‘Nordic Experience’, this year we travelled onboard China Airlines’ A350, which is another example of how full service airlines are becoming more creative and bold in the design of their lounges and cabins in an effort to differentiate their brand in the midst of fierce price competition.

Lounge to Cabin
The idea of commencing the journey early by providing a lounge experience that comes near or matches the experience in the air has began to take hold.

Air China, for example, worked with its design firm (JPA Design) to develop a holistic ground to air experience which incorporates the story telling theme of the airlines’ new cabins including traditional Chinese iconography designed by renowned Chinese artist Han Meilin.

And Finnair, together with dSign, developed a ‘Space Alive’ design standard which is applied on the airline’s Helsinki lounge and its A350 cabins. The concept uses dynamic mood lighting and neutral furnishings to set a mood that suits the time of day, destination or season.

China Airlines NexGen initiative
In 2014, China Airlines launched its ‘NexGen’ program with a design team led by Taiwanese designer Ray Chen. Moving beyond the neutral lounge designs and generic grey and blue cabin environments, Chen sought to design a lounge and cabin environment inspired by the Song Dynasty that – in China Airlines’ words “serves as a platform to showcase Taiwanese culture.”

China Airlines flagship lounge
China Airlines’ Dynasty Lounge at Taipei Airport Terminal 1 has an authentic boutique style ?to it. Using a lot of muted tones, the lounge is dark and earthly. The entrance is dominated by natural elements, ranging from the airline’s logo carved into wood to a long passageway with walls made of rocks.

There are different seat configurations – mostly 4-seaters by the side, with shelves containing artworks, artefacts and selections of books. There is also a long communal table at the back with floor-to-ceiling windows facing a green wall.?Food in the lounge includes fresh dumplings, buns and a cooked-to-order beef noodles.

Business Cabin
Passengers board China Airlines’ A350 via the door 2 galley which features shutters with a persimon wood pattern, which provides a more welcoming entrance compared to the industrial-type galleys found on most airlines.

Upon entering the Business cabin one is pleasantly surprised by the spacious cabin – no luggage bins above the middle seats – which is set in a warm yellow-orange moodlight. Other non-conventional cabin design approaches are the seat shell – which has metallic patterns inspired by persimmon-textures, a thick and soft carpet with geometric images of the same persimmon fruit, plus the gradient polka-dotted sidewalls. The lavatories have a Chinese landscape ink painting on the wall.

Similar remarks about this cabin design have been made by the likes of The Points Guy (“From the moment I stepped aboard, I was impressed by China Airlines’ service and style. The cabin itself was beautiful, with wood finishings and a beautiful onboard bar and bookshelves,” Australian Business Traveller (“Design-wise, this is a beautiful cabin, with almost everything you see customised to bring a more refined feel to the journey, whether that’s on the cabin walls, the carpets, the seating shells…”) and Business Traveller (“The cabin design is beautiful, with striking wood panelling veneers and residential touches such as the charming personal table lamps.”)

Business Seat
With a three-class configuration, China Airlines’ A350 features 32 seats (Rockwell Collins SuperDiamond) in Premium Business, 31 seats in Premium Economy (Zodiac/Safran AIRgo FX) and 243 seats in Economy (Zodiac/Safran Z300). The 12 Economy seats that could be turned into Family Couch seats have been discontinued earlier this year.

The spacious Business seat (1-2-1 layout with a 18-inch IFE screen and personal table lamp) also provides a good space to work with its large and solid main table plus generous space to the side. Free wifi is included in Business, although a voucher has to be requested before flight which could leave some passengers unaware of this option.

Service is attentive and fast with meals individually served on a tray. Frequent travellers who want more choice or a guaranteed option can also pre-order their meal via the China Airlines mobile app.

Mood Lighting
As mood-lighting on the A350 is more advanced than that on the 777, China Airlines and designer Ray Chen had the opportunity to customize the A350’s cutting edge LED dynamic moodlighting system.

The design includes not only static colour combinations, but also floating scenarios such as take-off lighting scenes that mimick the aircraft flying through layers of clouds, plus special scenarios that celebrate a passenger’s birthday, Moon Festival, Xmas, and Chinese New Year (which sees imaginary Koi swimming through the ceiling).

Sky Bistro
The Sky Lounge concept found on China Airlines’ B777-300ER has also found its way to the A350, albeit it in a slimmer version.

Between the first and last service rounds the door 2 galley doubles as a self-serve bar and social area for passengers in Business. During the flight, passengers can choose to walk up to the lounge to enjoy food and drinks and have a chat with other passengers and/or the crew.

One side of the galley features a nicely designed floor-to-ceiling cabinet stocked with Taiwanese snacks and drinks, both alcoholic and soft. There are also coffee pads that can be placed in the Nespresso machine in the galley.

Our verdict
China Airlines’ A350 Business Class ticks almost all passenger experience boxes: A hospitable and spacious cabin inside a quiet aircraft, featuring spacious seats surrounded by silver shells, wooden veneer walls, thick and soft carpet, plus a Sky Bistro. Together with funky mood lighting and even music inside the bathrooms this creates a club-like atmosphere.

Our only recommendation to China Airlines would be to invest more in sleeping comfort – more concisely in a mattrass padding, a larger and more comfortable pillow, and a better eye mask.

Similar feedback has been voiced by Australian Business Traveller: “… but with every other detail of the seat so refined and finessed, this is where the product needs some improvement. For starters, the seat feels rock hard as a bed, and China Airlines provides no mattress cover to place on top to soften this. My usual trick is to use the blanket as a fill-in mattress, but this made little difference.”

Since branded bedding has now become a common feature on airlines around the world – examples range from Delta’s partnership with Westin, Finnair’s collaboration with H?stens, to Hainan Airlines’ recent announcement together with Sofitel – partnering with a hospitality or bedding brand would complete China Airlines’ premium passenger experience.

]]>
Delta partners with Uber-inspired package delivery platform Roadie to deliver delayed luggage to passengers http://www.robmurphylaw.com/2018/12/20/delta-roadie-delivery-startup-delayed-luggage/ Thu, 20 Dec 2018 11:05:59 +0000 http://www.robmurphylaw.com/?p=11126

DATE Delta in 2011 became the first airline to make the baggage process more transparent for passengers with its ‘Track Checked Bags’ service. Delta passengers on domestic flights can track their checked bag(s) in real-time via the Delta app, even when up in the air.

Plus, Delta’s ‘Bags On Time’ guarantee?means that passengers on domestic routes will have their checked luggage at the bag caroussel within 20 minutes, or receive 2500 SkyMiles when this takes longer.

Delta in 2016 also invested?USD 50 million in RFID technology to further expand is bag tracking service to international stations. RFID scanners, RFID bag tag printer, and RFID pier and claim readers have been installed in 344 stations worldwide, which has resulted in baggage tracking that is 99.9 percent?accurate.

With sharing real-time bag tracking with passengers still being a novelty in the industry, Delta has further innovated its baggage service to include delayed luggage.

Delayed baggage claim via Delta app
Earlier this year, Delta expanded its Fly Delta app functionality to allow passengers to skip the bag service office visit when luggage is missing.

The mobile bag service feature allows passengers to file a bag claim at their final destination through the Fly Delta app, instead of having to visit the local Delta baggage service office, when Delta sees the bag has missed a checkpoint. The airline proactively notifies passengers if their bag will be delayed, and provides a link to complete a delayed bag file with the app.

“This is one more way we’re putting the power for a customer to control their experience in the palm of their hand,” commented Delta’s Chief Operating Officer, Gil West. “The last thing a customer wants to do when their bag is delayed is to go in person to do something that can be done with a few taps on their phone, knowing that we’ll deliver their bag directly to them when it arrives.”

Delta x Roadie for delayed baggage delivery
In 2015, Delta began partnering with Atlanta-based Roadie, a door-to-door delivery platform that connects people who want parcels delivered with people who are already driving in that direction. Roadie is about crowdsourcing package delivery by tapping into unused space in passenger vehicles already on the road, and is another example of the ‘on demand economy’ that includes the likes of Uber, Deliveroo, and others.

Roadie currently has more than 90,000 drivers on its platform, and is backed by investors like Google Chairman Eric Schmidt’s TomorrowVentures, the UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund and even rapper Ludacris, to name a few. Drivers can get paid USD 8 to USD 50 for deliveries, according to Roadie.

Delta and Roadie have been working together for three years, but announced the partnership in greater detail recently, as Delta expanded its use of the service from 12 cities in 2016 to more than 50 in its domestic network.

The carrier’s move away from traditional baggage delivery vendors has worked. “The response from customers and employees has been overwhelmingly positive,” Delta COO Gil West said. “We knew we were on to something when we saw delivery times drop by around 65 percent compared to traditional delivery services, and baggage service customer satisfaction scores jump dramatically.”

In addition to faster deliveries, customers in areas where Delta and Roadie partner receive real-time status updates and the ability to track their bag once it leaves the airport.

Delta x start-ups
“At best, any delayed bag is a hassle for a customer,” says Delta’s Gil West. “We get that, so we’ve made investments and developed some out-of-the-box partnerships to take some of the stress out of that hassle by making the process of getting that bag easier. Working with a startup like Roadie gives Delta the flexibility to try new and creative ways to solve customer pain points,” he said. “We get to think big, start small and learn fast, as new technologies and processes emerge and actually solve for a real need.”

Jon Litzenberger, Delta’s director of airport customer service told Travel Weekly: “Thanks to the technology with the Delta app and our customer-facing technology, the customer is also able to track in real time the status of their bag. Maybe the traditional way of delivering bags is kind of like the cable guy: I’ll be there between 12 and 4. With Roadie they can give you a 15-minute window of when that bag is going to be delivered.” (full interview here).

]]>
Bikevertising: WOW Air’s bike sharing scheme in Reykjavik http://www.robmurphylaw.com/2018/12/10/wow-air-citybike-reykjavik/ Mon, 10 Dec 2018 15:54:15 +0000 http://www.robmurphylaw.com/?p=11114

DATE A marketing tactic that has been adopted by airlines such as KLM, Alaska Airlines?and AirBaltic is to advertise on bike share programs (a.k.a. ‘bikevertising’).

As cities across the globe have been taken part in bicycle share programs which are enjoyed by tourists and locals alike, those bicycles are a smart and relevant way for an airline to advertise.

BalticBike
Latvian-based ‘value carrier’ AirBaltic even operated its own bike sharing program, called BalticBike, between 2010 and 2014 in Riga and the seaside resort of Jurmala (the bike sharing scheme is now operated by Sixt https://www.sixtbicycle.lv/en). At that time the airline commented that “BalticBike makes a marginal profit, but it is hugely popular among the city residents and tourists, and hugely visible, and so irreplaceable in advertising.”

WOWcitybike
In a similar entrepreneurial spirit, WOW Air, which bills itself as a “happy low-fare, long-haul, airline based in Iceland,” last year launched a bike sharing scheme in Reykjavik called WOWcitybike. In 2016, the city of Reykjavik advertised for ideas and interested parties in running rental bicycle stations in Reykjavik, and WOW Air answered the call? in cooperation with Canadian bike sharing company PBSC Urban Solutions.

Targetting the millennial demographic, WOW Air has been compared to a “flying youth hostel,”?and providing tourists and citizens an affordable and fun way to explore the capital on their own fits well with the airline’s brand image.

WOW Air’s messaging focuses on its positioning as a low cost airline that brings fun to flying. This includes a bright purple colour theme, ‘tongue-in-cheek attitude’ and humorous on-board announcements.

Eight bicycle stations with in total 100 bikes have been set up across the centre of Reykjavik and the bikes – which have three gears, handle breaks, adjustable seats, and puncture proof tires – can be rent from and returned to any station.

Unlike the many bike sharing schemes around the world that let users pick up and leave their bikes at any location and unlock the bike via a mobile app, WOW citybike is a bit more ‘old fashioned’ and uses bike stations combined with a credit card kiosk.

There are four options for renting a bike: 350 ISK (USD 3) for a 30-minute ride, 3900 ISK (USD 36) for a 30-day pass, 9900 ISK (USD 91) for a 90-day pass, and 16900 ISK (USD 156) for a one year pass.

]]>
Branded Experience: China Airlines’ A350 showcases Taiwan’s nature http://www.robmurphylaw.com/2018/11/01/china-airlines-a350-taiwans-nature/ Thu, 01 Nov 2018 20:04:15 +0000 http://www.robmurphylaw.com/?p=11097

DATE As the airline industry has always captured people’s imagination, airlines can tap into their country’s heritage to incorporate a bit of storytelling into the passenger experience. Legacy carriers in particular can benefit from their ‘flag carrier’ status to differentiate from cheap and cheerful low-cost airlines.

Going local provides airlines – and their countries of origin – with a ‘soft power’ tool to showcase their national heritage and offer passengers a way to experience local culture onboard – even when they are only flying the airline to transit to a third country. This also resonates with consumer trends such as authenticity, storytelling and the rediscovery of national and regional identities in a rapidly globalized world.

Airlines that are doing a good job in this perspective are Finnair, Icelandair, SWISS, Hawaiian, Etihad, Air New Zealand and China Airlines. For more on this ‘branded experience’ topic, see this excellent article by Marisa Garcia.

Flying Ambassador of Taiwan
In 2014, China Airlines launched its ‘NexGen’ program with a design team led by Taiwanese designer Ray Chen.

Moving beyond the generic grey and blue cabin environments, Chen sought to design a cabin environment that – in China Airlines’ words “serves as a platform to showcase Taiwanese culture and setting foot into our cabins is like stepping into a traditional Chinese landscape painting.”

For example, the cabin walls and seats of China Airlines’ B777-300s and A350s are decorated with finishes of persimmon wood grains, as well as the table surfaces of the seats in Business. Persimmon is an edible fruit whose tree is symbolic to good wishes.

Apart from the wood veneer finishes, the cabin is also covered in a dark carpet with geometric images of the persimmon fruit. The negative spaces of the caligraphic drawings are of light gold colors while the positive spaces are dark blue. Furthermore, lavatories on the A350 also follow the local design philosophy in having a Chinese landscape ink painting on the wall.

Plum blossom, native birds
On the outside, China Airlines’ aircraft feature a large plum blossom – the national flower of Taiwan – on their tails. The plum blossom is one of the earliest blossoms of the year (as early as January) giving Taiwan its own cherry blossom season.

Along with plum blossoms in bloom, two China Airlines A350 aircraft also feature a large painting of two of Taiwan’s national birds on their liveries, as the island is renowned among bird-watchers.

The ‘Syrmaticus Mikado’ (Mikado Peasant) is painted on the fuselage of the China Airlines’ first A350. The same Mikado pheasants and Yushan National Park, one of the areas it is known to inhabit, are also depicted on the Taiwanese 1000 dollar bill.

To mark the 100th delivery of an A350 by Airbus, another China Airlines A350 features the ‘Urocissa Caerulea’ (Taiwan Blue Magpie), a species of bird of the crow family which is endemic to Taiwan.

East meets West
And on a related note, China Airlines has taken delivery of its final Airbus A350-900 painted in a scheme that combines the Taiwanese carrier’s own plum-blossom logo with the aircraft manufacturer’s carbonfibre pattern house livery (70 percent of the A350 is made from composite material), in what the airlines calls a “weaving of Eastern and Western influences.”

Following this delivery, China Airlines today has 14 A350-900 aircraft in its fleet, all of which have been delivered in the past two years.

]]>
Short-hauling: Spanish regional airline Air Nostrum wants to operate high-speed rail routes http://www.robmurphylaw.com/2018/10/26/spanish-regional-airline-air-nostrum-wants-to-operate-high-speed-rail-routes/ Fri, 26 Oct 2018 15:56:25 +0000 http://www.robmurphylaw.com/?p=11103

DATE As short-haul flying is mostly a tedious, uncomfortable experience with lots of queuing and waiting, while at the same time a growing number of consumers have become more conscious about the environmental impact of air travel, the popularity of high-speed rail as an alternative to short-haul flying has steadily been growing.

Compared to air travel within a range of around 700 kilometer, high-speed rail means less hassle, because of direct connections between city centers, lighter security and luggage regulations, and a much more comfortable journey.

In Europe, for example Eurostar’s London-Amsterdam service – which was launched in April this year – has proved such a success that the train operator expects to operate a third and possibly even a fourth daily service from next year on.

And on many city pairs, high-speed rail now has a much higher market share than air travel. For example, between Madrid and Barcelona, 65 percent of the market has moved to high-speed rail, while ItaloTren has a market share of 75 percent between Milan and Rome. In Japan, the Shinkansen for a long time has a market share of over 85 percent on the routes between Tokyo and Osaka and between Kyoto/Osaka and Fukuoka.

And as Google Flights nows shows Deutsche Bahn as alternative to a flight when searching for a fare between for example Amsterdam and Frankfurt (a journey of over 400 km), ‘short-hauling’ via high-speed rail is on track for further growth.

High-speed rail as feeder
Several airlines and rail companies are already working together to provide travellers with a seamless ‘intermodal’ connection, effectively using high-speed rail as feeder service to long-haul flights.

For example, Lufthansa Express Rail is a collaboration between the airline and Deutsche Bahn and provides passengers with an integrated booking from 8 destinations throughout Germany to and from Frankfurt Airport. This means reserved seats on the train, remote baggage check-in, plus a guaranteed connection. Lufthansa will expand its Express Rail service to 20 German destinations by mid-2019.

European rail liberalization
Since 2010, EU rules have opened the international passenger rail market to competion, but member states have until the end of 2020 to liberalize their domestic train travel markets.

In the meantime, state operators such as SNCF (OuiGo) and Renfe (EVA, planned) are launching low-cost high-speed rail brands to defend their position against new entrants such as Flixtrain in Germany and the planned GetLink service between London and Europe.

Regional carrier as high-speed rail operator
Between Spain and Southern France an unxpected candidate – regional carrier Air Nostrum – in September 2017 filed an application to operate high speed rail services from Madrid’s Atocha rail station to Gare de Montpellier-Saint-Roch in Southern France, with its subsidiary ILSA (Intermodalidad de Levante SA).

Air Nostrum currently operates as a franchisee for Iberia as Iberia Regional from its main base Valencia Airport (with hubs at Barcelona and Madrid-Barajas) with a fleet of 40 Bombardier CRJ jets and 6 ATR-72s.

Saying it can operate the routes faster and offering fares that are 10 percent cheaper, the Air Nostrum subsidiary has applied to run two trains each way per day, calling at Madrid, Zaragoza, Barcelona, Perpignan, Narbonne, and Montpellier with 347-seat AVE S-100 trains leased from Spain’s national rail operator RENFE.

The distance between Madrid and Montpellier is just over 700 km and Air Nostrum’s projected travel time by rail will be 5 hours and 45 minutes. Currently no airline is operating scheduled flights between the two cities.

According to the application, the international route linking the regions of Languedoc-Roussillon, Midi-Pyrénées, Catalu?a, Aragón and Madrid has a potential market of 5.2 million passengers per year, but ILSA’s CEO Víctor Ba?ares argues that the current RENFE service is not commercially attractive, with an evening arrival in Montpellier poorly suited to business travel.

ILSA’s proposed schedule would also make it compete head-to-head with RENFE for domestic travel between Madrid, Zaragoza and Barcelona, as part of the overall international route. Spanish regulator CNMC last month approved Air Nostrum/ILSA’s application because at least 20 percent of the international route is operated outside of Spain and international traffic accounts for at least 30 percent of ridership and a similar proportion of revenue, meaning that Air Nostrum/ILSA in theory could start operations.

However, El Pais reports that despite the authorization of the CNMC there are currently no trains to start operations. So far, RENFE has been reluctant to assign some of its S-100 trains and even liquidated its rental subsidiary to avoid having to do so. Air Nostrum/ILSA reportedly is now looking for rolling stock in Italy.

]]>
China Airlines mobile app lets passenger pre-order duty free, pre-select meals, and book high-speed rail tickets http://www.robmurphylaw.com/2018/10/24/china-airlines-mobile-app-innovation/ Wed, 24 Oct 2018 04:01:41 +0000 http://www.robmurphylaw.com/?p=11086

DATE Passengers, spoilt by availability of user-friendly apps on their smartphones that allow them to manage many parts of their daily life, are raising the bar for airline apps to become more relevant as well.

Digital travel companion
At the same time many airlines are working to evolve their app into a ‘digital travel companion’ in order to extend their service beyond just flying passengers from A to B, and generate some ancillary revenues in the process.

Describing its mobile app as a “personal travel secretary,” China Airlines’ app features innovative functionality that goes beyond the regular airline app basics of searching, booking, seat selection, check-in, and flight status.

Ancillaries, recommendations
Besides offering passengers the option to purchase ancillary services such as excess luggage and in-flight Wi-Fi, the China Airlines app provides recommendations on destinations and duty free items. The suggestions are based on the data of passengers who are logged into the app and uses elements such as the flight history and duty free purchasing records of members – as well as data of members with similar attributes – to generate personalized recommendations.

Duty free items can be purchased via China Airlines stand-alone SkyBoutique duty free app, which is accessible linked to the main China Airlines app.

Pre-select Business Class meal
Many airlines today – ranging from Singapore Airlines to American Airlines – give passengers in Business with the option to pre-select their meal. This gives frequent travellers more meals to choose from, while it allows the airline to plan and load more efficiently and reduce waste.

However, several airlines still only allow passengers to pre-select their meal via the website, or even the phone, while this kind of service is a typical mobile app feature, as it offers passengers a convenient way to add their preferred meal to their booking in the run-up to their flight.

Similar to Qantas and Qatar Airways (among others), China Airlines Business passengers can select their preferred meals via the mobile app and choose from 10 different meals to pre-order 14 days to 24 hours before departure.

Beyond the flight: Rail & Fly
While many airlines have partnered with the likes of Uber, Lyft, Diddi or Grab for airport transfers, they still have to take the first steps in using their app platform to integrate other modes of transport, ranging from trains and busses to car and bike sharing schemes.

As high-speed rail can be a very good alternative to short-haul flights, integrating HSR booking functionality into the airline app makes perfect sense, essentially turning HSR into a feeder service.

For example, Deutsche Bahn’s Rail&Fly service is an offer for rail travel to/from the airport in connection with an international flight, so passengers only have to purchase one ticket including both the air and rail segments. DB Rail&Fly offers train service to all German airports plus Amsterdam and Zurich and is available for around 50 airlines (including China Airlines).

However, this service is not integrated within any airline app, and passengers can only book a ticket via the website of either the airline or Deutsche Bahn.

Taiwan High Speed Rail
In Taiwan, China Airlines passengerswith international flight tickets can purchase Taiwan high-speed rail (THSR) tickets via the China Airlines app at a 20 percent discount.

Passengers can make their THSR booking by entering their ticket number and name in the China Airlines app. Based on the time selected by the passenger, the THSR system then displays the next 5 train schedules with available seats for passengers to choose.

Passengers with a one-way flight ticket can only purchase one-way THSR tickets, while those with round? tickets can purchase a round-trip on the THSR, which runs from Taipei to Kaoshiung. Tickets can be obtained from 28 days prior to the date of travel.

Unfortunately, the THSR tickets purchased via the China Airlines mobile app are yet not applicable to the ticket retrieval service on the THSR mobile app. Instead, passengers can use the THSR reservation code, ticket retriever’s passport or ID number to retrieve tickets from the THSR ticket counter, ticket vending machines and convenience stores that cooperate with THSR.

Next
China Airlines is also in the process of implementing real-time luggage tracking – so passengers can track their luggage via the app, while it aims to leverage its onboard duty‐free products experience and warehouses to prepare to move into the e‐commerce market.

As many airlines are evolving their mobile apps into end-to-end platforms – aimed at frequent travellers – that offer service, commerce and entertainment along the customer journey, services such recommendations, meal options and third party transportation are the first steps.

Says Su-Chien Hsieh, President of China Airlines, “New technologies are providing the aviation industry with more accessible services. Artificial intelligence, Internet-of-things, augmented/virtual reality, biometrics, big data and Bluetooth tracking and positioning are all applications under development by China Airlines.”

For more on “digital Innovation and the end-to-end passenger experience,” see this presentation we gave at the Hamburg Passenger Experience Conference.

]]>
Transavia offers passengers the option to order a breakfast box for pick-up on arrival http://www.robmurphylaw.com/2018/10/09/transavia-appie-fly-breakfast-box-arrival/ Tue, 09 Oct 2018 10:51:28 +0000 http://www.robmurphylaw.com/?p=11067

DATE Much has been said how airlines should evolve/transform into travel platforms that provide passengers with relevant products and services during their journey from door to door. Think airport transfers, baggage pick-up and delivery, duty free delivery on arrival, etcetera.

These kind of convenience-based services are taking off in a response to the expectations of customers used to manage their life from their smartphone in an ‘on-demand’ economy.

Beyond the flight: Groceries
A new example of how airlines are thinking beyond the flight is a pilot between Dutch LCC Transavia and Holland’s major retailer Albert Heijn which aims to ease the woes of travellers who find an empty fridge and a closed supermarket when returning home, for example in the evening or on a Sunday.

Similar insights have led retailers such as Tesco to trial a QR shopping wall trial at London Gatwick back in 2012, while Lufthansa has held trials with German supermarkets Rewe and Edeka to let passengers order groceries via its FlyNet inflight wifi portal for home delivery.

Appie Fly
Appie Fly is a joint experiment by Albert Heijn and Transavia that allows passengers on all inbound Transavia flights to Rotterdam The Hague Airport to order fresh breakfast boxes and then collect them after arrival. The breakfast boxes can be picked up from the Appie Fly collection point, which is located at the Illy Coffee Corner in the arrival hall of the airport.

Passengers can place their orders online when checking in for their flight to the Netherlands via Transavia’s mobile responsive website. The ‘Welcome Home’ boxes, which are sufficient for two people, offer two varieties of breakfast and are priced at euro 12.50 each.

The Appie Fly ‘Welcome Home Box’ is the result of a joint Google design sprint of the innovation labs of Transavia and Albert Heijn in which they explored what kind of joint customer propositions could be developed. For Transavia, Appie Fly is a way to extend its service proposition – and potentially earn an ancillary fee – while for Albert Heijn, Transavia serves as an additonal sales channel.

Earlier this year, the service has been tested on a small scale at Schiphol Airport, while the current trial at Rotterdam The Hague airport is for three months.

Transavia Innovation Lab
The Appie Fly service is part of a broader innovation program at Transavia which also has seen the launch of a bagagge check-in and collection service in cooperation with Post NL.

As one of the first airlines to use Whatsapp for customer service, Transavia is also using Whatsapp to let passengers purchase additional services (such as extra luggage allowance or better seats) using ABN Amro’s Tikkie service. This payment request service allows customers to pay immediately using Tikkie during the Whatsapp chat with Transavia’s customer service.

]]>
Philippine Airlines A350 features innovative lighting design by LIFT http://www.robmurphylaw.com/2018/08/30/philippine-airlines-a350-innovative-lighting/ Thu, 30 Aug 2018 15:09:35 +0000 http://www.robmurphylaw.com/?p=11059

This article first appeared on THE DESIGNAIR

DATE Philippine Airlines’ A350 – featuring a brand new cabin product – will soon start flying on its long-haul city pairing of Manila to London Heathrow. The lighting system onboard might not have taken the limelight, but it certainly creates it, designed as part of a truly holistic cabin concept.

“Following on PAL’s A330 retrofit and new A321neo with fully flat beds in business class, the A350 program was about underlining the airline’s positioning as a full-service, global network carrier,” says Daniel Baron, owner of LIFT Strategic Design. “So it was important to look beyond the usual color, material and finish, and communicate ‘the heart of the filipino’ in a brand new way.”

Branded Experience
It is true that in many cabin design programs, mood lighting is often considered after the rest of the trim and finish is in place due to the still-siloed approach to the passenger experience. “In the case of the PAL A350, the robust lighting system gave us the ability to make mood lighting an integral part of the onboard experience, with distinct scenes designed around country, culture and brand. We aimed for a new level of differentiation, a new emotional connection,” says Baron.

LIFT has worked with Philippine Airlines on a variety of projects for over a decade, which meant that Daniel has spent a large proportion of his time in the Philippines. “Thanks to those experiences, we understand well the character of the nation and the aspirations of the staff. We wanted to communicate the spirit of a nation that prides itself on hospitality, on generosity, on celebrating life.”

Welcome Home
Over five million Filipinos work outside their country, many for years at a time, sending money home to support parents and send kids to school. “They may be flying in economy class, but in my mind their hard work and sacrifices make them super VIPs. A lot of time was spent developing lighting scenes that would instantly say, from the moment they board the aircraft, ‘you’re already home’.”

The themes – some of the most vibrant in the skies – include boarding/deplaning, Christmas, Sunrise, Flag colours, Fiesta and Celebration, featuring a mix of motion lighting themes and static colour washes. The level of detail is remarkable, including the sunset theme which concludes during the final meal service, where a slow transition from midnight blue culminates with the “sun” in orange rising slowly above overhead bins toward the ceiling. As it fades out, the cabin sidewalls become bathed in warm amber.

The process took longer than most people would believe, and Daniel spent a week with two members of the PAL team at Airbus Hamburg, where the company’s abstract designs were transformed into simulations in the lighting mockup. “I am thrilled with the results. Many are first-in-the-world mood lighting scenes, unique to PAL and unmistakably Filipino.”

]]>
KLM ‘Anytime You Wish’ service caters to passenger expectations shaped by the on-demand economy http://www.robmurphylaw.com/2018/04/06/klm-anytime-you-wish-service-caters-to-passenger-expectations-shaped-by-the-on-demand-economy/ Fri, 06 Apr 2018 15:06:06 +0000 http://www.robmurphylaw.com/?p=11047

At the 2018 Passenger Experience Conference, AirlineTrends founder Raymond Kollau held a presentation on the impact of our on-demand lifestyles has on the food and beverage expectations in-flight. This overview was the starting point for a wider discussion, bringing together experts from KLM, Norwegian, LSG Group and Diehl to consider the challenges the on-demand catering trend poses and how the industry could address them.

DATE Consumer behavior is changing. As smartphones make it quick and hassle-free to order goods online, watch a movie, or flag a taxi, the so-called ‘On-Demand Economy’ has generated a sense of entitlement with consumers to fast, simple, attention-saving experiences.

Expectation Transfer
And, in what TrendWatching has dubbed ‘Expectation Transfer’, the experiences consumers have with one brand also impacts the expectations they have from brands in other industries.

David Mattin, head of Trends and Insights at TrendWatching believes the expectation transfer happens in customer-business relationships when an innovation serves a basic need in a new way, and therefore sets new customer expectations. Mattin uses the ubiquitous rideshare app, Uber as a shining example, “Uber helped to create new expectations and those expectations spread, becoming the now well-established trend known as on-demand. That’s expectation transfer: the mechanism by which new innovations from around the world shape what your customers will soon expect from you [the business].”

And raising the bar even more: Analysis from Uber has found the longer Uber has been in a city, the less willing to wait for a car everyone becomes.

Food Delivery Platforms
One of the areas where the on-demand economy has had an enormous impact is food delivery. Online food-delivery platforms such as Just Eat, GrubHub, Delivery Hero, Deliveroo, Takeaway.com, FoodPanda, Foodora, Uber Eats and Amazon Restaurants have expanded choice and convenience, allowing urban customers across the globe to order from a wide array of restaurants with a single tap of their mobile phone.

These on-demand expectations are also transfering to the travel sector. For example, hotels such as Marriott allow guests to order food and amenities via the hotel app, while other hotel chains have partnered with food delivery platforms to replace room service. And Deliveroo has just launched a food delivery service to passengers waiting at the gate at Dubai Airport and Amsterdam Schiphol.

Up In The Air
So what does this on-demand mindset mean for the inflight experience, in particular for onboard catering?

Today, only about a dozen airlines allow passengers to order food or snacks on demand, be it via the (wireless) IFE system or by just asking the flight attendant.

In Business Class, on demand meal service is part of a broader trend that sees airlines introducing hospitality-inspired service offerings that provide passengers in premium classes with more choice and control.

Passengers onboard Etihad, Qatar Airways, Air Canada, KLM, and Finnair can order a meal or snack whenever they want, while Japan Airlines and Air New Zealand let passengers order a light meal or snack via the IFE system in between regular meal services. Cathay Pacific has been trialing an on-demand catering service in 2017.

At the other end of the spectrum are long-haul low-cost carriers such as Norwegian and Level – but also a hybrid LCC like FlyDubai – who give passengers the option to purchase buy-on-board catering via the in-seat IFE system. For these carriers this is a way to “keep the store open” during the full flight, instead of just selling items when the crew walk the aisle with the trolleys.

CASE: KLM ‘Anytime For You’
Since mid-2017, KLM has been operating a new service model in its long-haul Business Class called ‘Anytime For You’.

At the start of the flight, passengers are presented with a printed menu, which – in addition to the regular three-course dinner or lunch options – also includes an ‘Anytime For You’ range, consisting of five different, options, such as veggie, local, healthy, guilty pleasure, etcetera.

Passengers can opt for the regular three-course menu or skip this entirely. After the standard meal service, passengers can order from the ‘Anytime For You’ throughout the flight.

Human touch: Accommodate passenger’s travel schedules
The idea behind the new service comes from the fact that the majority of KLM passengers transits at the airline’s Amsterdam Schiphol hub. This means passengers are coming from different time zones: One will have just finished breakfast. Another just wants to sleep. Yet another is in the mood for a small snack, while someone else is ready for supper.

Digital touch: Support flight attendants
Cabin crew play an important role in the new concept. Together with the passenger, they compile a personal service schedule for the flight. And because the ‘Anytime For You’ service calls for far more activities – all dishes are assembles in the galley and served by hand as in a restaurant – KLM has added an extra cabin attendant to the Busines Class team.

To support KLM’s cabin crew during the new on-demand serice, the airline developed an app for the iPad that each KLM crew member carries. When taking orders, the app allows crew to look up specific information about a meal – such as ingredients, origins and allergens – or add notes for passengers with special requests.

The crew member in the galley – who prepares and plates the dishes – has insights in the specifics of each order as well as detailed preparation and plating information. Per type of meal (starters, main meals, desserts, etc) there is an overview of all orders taken.

To transfer each order from the iPad carried by the flight attendant taking orders to the crew member preparing the orders in the galley, animated QR-codes are used, so there is no need to use a Bluetooth or WiFi connection.

KLM is rolling out the ‘Anytime For You’ on-demand service concept on a destination-by-destination basis and the service is is currently being offered on flights between Amsterdam and Johannesburg, Bangkok and Tokyo. Eventually, KLM expects to offer the ‘Anytime For You’ service on about 10 ‘key’ routes.

]]>
Finnair’s A350 features a host of innovative passenger experience elements http://www.robmurphylaw.com/2017/11/11/8-innovative-touches-onboard-finnairs-new-a350/ Sat, 11 Nov 2017 10:54:16 +0000 http://www.robmurphylaw.com/?p=10348 Finnair_A350_innovative features_c680x277

By Raymond Kollau

DATE Finnair has been the first European airline to take delivery of the A350-900 and the third carrier worldwide (after Qatar Airways and Vietnam Airlines). Finnair’s 297-seat aircraft is configured in three classes with 208 seats in Economy, 43 in Economy Comfort and 46 in Business.

There is a lot to like about Finnair’s (and its design agency dSign Vertti Kivi & Co) approach towards designing the A350 onboard experience, which features several innovative elements.

1. Welcome Onboard: Galley Screen
On most widebody aircraft passengers enter the cabin at the so-called door 2 and often their first impression is the sights of an industrial-looking galley area. Finnair has come up with a clever (and economic) solution by installing galley screens that are lowered when passengers are boarding and which feature a striking photo.

Marisa Garcia from FlightChic summarizes it nicely: “There is a very clever introduction of Finland’s lush green nature with a calm forest image in a galley screen, which I found was an attractive detail. It helps the cabin feel fresh, quieting the disturbing visual noise of galley equipment. It’s really a very simple thing, but Finnair took the time to consider it.”

2. Mood Lighting: Northern Lights
A remarkable feature of the cabin is the dynamic mood LED lighting. When passengers board the plane, they are greeted by the sight of clouds drifting across a blue sky throughout the cabin (video), while cool Nordic blue shades resembling the Northern lights will set the mood as the plane approaches Helsinki.

In all, there are 24 lighting schemes, and for example a warm orange glow can be created to suggest an Asian ambience on flights to the Far East. Says Juha J?rvinen, Finnair’s Chief Commercial Officer, “Finnair’s new Airbus aircraft feature a cabin interior largely based on the Space Alive concept developed by dSign, where the main idea is to change the mood of the cabin space as the flight progresses.”

The mood lighting is also integrated with the in-seat IFE system. Jouni Oksanen, VP Digital at Finnair tells Hangar.no, “We’ve also added a timeline for dimming of the displays. This means that during the flight the screens will adapt to the time zones the aircraft passes. When it’s night outside, it will be night on the screens so it does not light up a whole bunch of bright displays that disturbs people who want to sleep.”

3. Business Class: Ladies’ Room
Female passengers in Business Class have access to a dedicated Ladies’ Room which is stocked with cosmetics and other supplies from Finnish brand Clean (images here and here). Australian Business Traveller reports that the ladies-only lavatory will be made available to “high-flying hommes” in the event that there’s a higher than usual proportion of men to women in business class, but as a rule it will be reserved for women.

4. Brand Collaboration: Finnair x Marimekko
Finnair’s A350 cabin is dominated by airy white and grey colours, and is perhaps seen by some as more ‘bland’ than ‘brand’. However, pillows, blankets, tabletware and an amenity kit designed by iconic Finnish design house Marimekko for Finnair add great splashes of colour to the cabin.

Says Finnair CCO, Juha J?rvinen, “Many of Finnair’s long-haul passengers coming from Asia, Europe or North America may not be so familiar with Finland, but their time spent travelling with us is a great opportunity to showcase the best of our design culture and show how good design can make life better.“

5. Flight Stages Timeline on IFE system
Developed in-house in partnership with creative agency Reaktor, Finnair has dubbed its Panasonic IFE system ‘Nordic Sky’. The on-screen display shows the main stages of the flight, guiding passengers from departure throughout all stages of their journey, informing them in advance when meals will be served, when rest lighting will be activated, and when passengers can make purchases from the in-flight shopping service.

Cabin crew announcements appear at the top of the display and inform passengers of events such as flight schedule and meal delivery. The cabin crew can update all flight events – such as the flight schedule and the food menu – in real time.

6. On-demand ordering of alcoholic drinks, snacks in Economy
On Finnair’s long-haul flights, passengers in Economy and Economy Comfort are served beer and wine free of charge when a meal is being served. Coffee, tea, soft drinks are free in between main meal services, while alcoholic beverages and select snacks are available for purchase via the SkyBistro service. Passengers can also order champagne and chocolate for an additional fee.

On the A350, passengers in Economy and Economy Comfort will be able to place their orders via the IFE screen (image) and pay with the cabin crew who will receive the orders on their tablet devices. The on-demand service has already been added to the IFE system, but Finnair says it will begin offering the feature 2016, “once all the other cabin procedures are going smoothly on the new aircraft.”

7. Business Class Perk: Free Wi-Fi
A nice perk for passengers travelling in Business Class passengers – as well as upper tier of Finnair’s and oneworld’s frequent flyer program members – is full Internet access free of charge. Passengers in Business that want to use the wi-fi can use a code that will appear on the IFE screen (image). Passengers in Economy can purchase wifi either by the hour (euro 5) or for the duration of the flight (euro 15).

8. Inflight Portal: Duty Free Pre-order
The onboard ‘Nordic Sky’ wifi portal – which can be accessed with passengers’ own devices – gives all passengers free access to finnair.com and Finnair services such as destination information, customer care and pre-order shopping.

The duty free pre-order section lets passenger order duty free items for delivery to their seat during their return flight. Orders are processed via the wifi satellite link to the ground. According to the airline, “Using technology to promote shopping opportunities on board allows Finnair to offer passengers a valuable service, without overwhelming them with sales pitches or irritating those who want to rest and relax on a flight. It also removes the pressure from cabin crew to sell.”

“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 CCO Juha J?rvinen recently told attendees at the World Low-Cost Airlines Congress in London. “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.”

]]>
Inflight Ancillaries: How airlines can monetize their inflight engagement platforms http://www.robmurphylaw.com/2017/06/21/inflight-ancillaries-how-airlines-can-monetize-their-inflight-engagement-platforms/ Wed, 21 Jun 2017 07:28:07 +0000 http://www.robmurphylaw.com/?p=11014

At FTE Europe/Ancillary, AirlineTrends founder Raymond Kollau chaired the session on “The Future Of Onboard Service And Inflight Merchandising In The Connected Era,” as well as facilitated the hands-on “PAXEX360 Workshop” in wich participants will co-create innovative ideas and concepts how airlines can generate ancillary revenues inflight. Learn more ??

DATE As ancillary revenues are on the agenda of every airline, much has been written and said about the grand vision of airlines as omni-channel retailers, in which the in-flight part is just another touchpoint in an end-to-end, personalized, seamless, digital travel eco-system.

However, as airlines are only just embarking on this merchandizing journey, we take a look at the current state of inflight retail, which sees the opening up of a cabin environment that was previously ‘closed’ because of proprietary IFE platforms and the lack of Internet connectivity.

From In-Flight Entertainment to In-Flight Engagement platforms

Android-based in-seat IFE platforms, wireless IFE, Internet connectivity, plus the large number of passengers – and increasingly cabin crew as well – that carry a digital device, provides airlines with much more control how to move beyond providing just entertainment to new opportunities to generate ancillary revenues in-flight.

Jeff Standerski from Rockwell Collins summarizes this evolution nicely: “Passengers’ expectations have evolved from a passive ‘Please entertain me’ to a proactive ‘I want to entertain myself’. Our industry needs a new term to describe a holistic experience that is equal in every way to how people leverage their devices on terra firma. The future of the passenger/cabin interaction is beyond one of mere entertainment and can be more accurately described as one of deep and ongoing engagement: In-Flight Passenger Engagement.”

A similar vision is painted by Thales CFO Fred Schreiner: “We are going to go into a period where it’s about engagement. How do we move from an in-seat system, where an airline is looking at cost line, to an in-seat solution coupled with connectivity that moves to a revenue line?” Schreiner said families will be able to plan their holidays from the seatback: booking restaurants and exploring street level views of a city’s sights.

Eventually this means that this new ‘inflight engagement platform’ – be it seatback systems, inflight wireless portals or mobile apps – will become another touchpoint in the airline travel ecosystem.

Inflight Commerce

And with the proliferation of e-commerce, passengers have come to expect self-service and an on-demand environment up in the air. Besides allowing passengers to order food and beverages from their seat, this means that rather than making money from selling wi-fi connectivity, airlines should be turning to third-party merchants with last-minute inventory – such as hotels, restaurants, duty free retailers, transportation companies, sellers of event tickets – to develop a retail environment as part of their in-flight Internet portals.

Finnair ‘Nordic Sky’
Finnair, for example, 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.

Passengers can also use the inflight portal to order taxis via Cabforce on in-bound Helsinki flights, or book destination services such as trips, dinner cruises and concert tickets with Viator Destination Services. The airline is also considering to let passengers pre-order their groceries inflight.

Lufthansa x Frankfurt Airport ‘Inflight Shopping’
An early example of collaborative retail comes from Lufthansa and Frankfurt Airport. Passengers on in-bound long-haul Lufthansa flights can pre-order a selection of duty free from retailers at the airport via the Lufthansa inflight portal and have their orders delivered to them by the airport’s ‘runners’ at their arrival gate.

LEVEL ‘Pair & Pay’
With regard to the on-demand trend, IAG’s new long-haul low-cost carrier LEVEL is one of several long-haul LCCs such as Norwegian and Azul to allow passengers to order food, beverages and travel accessories via the in-seat IFE system and pay with their credit card via a solution called Pair & Pay.

LoyaltyLobby describes the Pair & Pay system as follows: “After selecting the items on the screen, you got the choice to pair the screen purchase with your WiFi connected device and to pay using the card info stored on your profile. The buying experience is seamless and so easy. Those not willing to open an account could order their items and pay to a flight attendant using their card.”

Meanwhile in China
Meanwhile in China, airlines are more opportunistic in their efforts to monetize in-flight digital platforms. Air China has partnered with online retailer JD.com to offer passengers a selection of goods they can purchase via the in-seat IFE system for delivery to their homes, while Spring Airlines is working is working on an inflight portal that allows for online shopping on international flights.

China Eastern’s ‘In-flight Mall’ onboard it’s Boeing 777-300s enabless passengers to order meals, pay for upgrades onboard, and purchase duty free items through the seatback screen, passenger’s personal devices or tablets that are provided by the crew. The sidewall of one of the galleys also features a duty-free showcase, which displays a selection of the duty free items available for purchase onboard.

Reinventing onboard retail

As IFE systems are evolving into digital platforms, airlines have the opportunity to reinvent inflight service and retail. Or as trendwatcher James Woudhuyzen puts it in a straightforward way: “Sell things people actually want to buy, so when the flight attendant announces ‘Duty Free Goods’ it isn’t in a tone that shows she fully expects zero sales.”

]]>
AIX 2017: Smart design innovations to make Economy seating more comfortable http://www.robmurphylaw.com/2017/04/20/aix-2017-smart-design-innovations-to-make-economy-seating-more-comfortable/ Thu, 20 Apr 2017 10:50:06 +0000 http://www.robmurphylaw.com/?p=10932

This article first appeared on Future Travel Experience (FTE)

DATE While Business Class passengers have become used to full-flat beds, those who travel in Economy have had little to get excited about in recent times. As airlines seek to increase cabin density, many Economy passengers have seen comfort levels at best stagnate, and at worst decrease.

In-flight entertainment developments and the ongoing rollout of onboard Wi-Fi are at least helping to provide welcome distraction, but if shoulders are rubbing and legroom is limited, the Economy Class experience is unlikely to be remembered with fondness.

At the heart of the discussion about Economy Class comfort is the seat itself. Surely, if passengers have a comfortable seat, they will have a more enjoyable flight. With this simple premise in mind, FTE at the recent Aircraft Interiors Expo 2017 in Hamburg spoke to a number of aircraft seat designers and manufacturers to learn about their efforts to increase comfort across the board.

Wider Middle Seat
For example, recently we have seen several initiatives that aim to increase the popularity of the dreaded middle seat. Bombardier’s C Series aircraft (currently operated by SWISS and airBaltic) features a 3-2 configuration, with a slightly wider middle seat (19 inch vs 18.5 inches for the window and aisle seats).

Patrick Baudis, VP Marketing Bombardier Commercial Aircraft explained that feedback from airlines and passengers so far has been positive. “The wider seats are a big element that pleases the passengers. With wider seats, you can turn, you can move your legs, and that compensates for pitch to a certain extent.”

Acro Series 6
In Hamburg, Acro and Air New Zealand unveiled a new Economy Class seat for the airline’s A320 and A321neo fleet.

Alan McInnes, SVP Sales, Acro Aircraft Seating, described to FTE how the Acro Series 6 seat was developed closely with Air New Zealand. The final design features a middle seat that is three centimetres (1.18 inches) wider than Air NZ’s current Airbus seats, and window and aisle seats that are one centimetre (0.39 inches) wider.

The design also features a new seat cover developed in conjunction with New Zealand-based Flight Interiors, while the curved seatback has been designed by Acro to enhance ergonomics.

Molon Labe ‘Side-Slip Seat’
Some companies are really pushing the boundaries of ‘blue sky thinking’. One such company is Molon Labe Seating, which showed FTE the innovative ‘Side-slip Seat’, which has been designed to speed up the boarding process and to offer increased living space in Economy.

When not in use, the aisle seat slides over the middle seat to increase aisle space. The staggered design of the armrest means all passengers feel like they have a dedicated armrest, while the concept allows two inches of width to be added to the middle seat, which airlines can upsell if they wish.

Headrest Innovation
Design agency Tangerine teamed up with fellow Irish companies Bradfor, IPC Mouldings and Magnesium Elektron to create the POISE concept, which set out to rethink the structure of the Economy Class seat in order to create extra legroom for every passenger.

The concept seat also features extended headrest wings and a magnetic meal tray. Impressively, the concept was conceived, designed and developed in just eight weeks.

When quizzed by FTE on whether he sees a desire among airlines to improve the Economy experience, Martin Darbyshire, CEO of tangerine, said: “The more responsible airlines do care about it.” However, he admitted that convincing airlines to deliver positive change can be difficult due to the “tremendous commercial pressure” that carriers are often under.

He said airlines shouldn’t focus on “frilly” ideas, but instead on more “common sense” opportunities that can make a real difference. One such example is the six-way headrest that tangerine designed for Cathay Pacific’s A350s, which offers extra neck support for economy class passengers.

Reconfigurable Cabin
Airbus, Recaro and THK provide another example of how collaboration can benefit passenger comfort. The Smart Cabin Reconfiguration concept, making use of Recaro’s Flex Seat, is a sliding seat concept that allows for seat pitch to be significantly increased in a matter of seconds.

If an aircraft is flying at less than 100 percent capacity, the seat rows that aren’t being used can be quickly folded up and the row in front can be moved backwards to increase legroom.

“The idea of the reconfigurable cabin came up years ago,” Dr. Mark Hiller, Recaro’s CEO, told FTE. “Together with Airbus we thought about how we can really give the cabin more flexibility. We worked together with Airbus to figure out what can we do on the seat tracks, what can we do with the seats, and (whether we can create a concept) which is adjustable in less than a minute. This really gives airlines completely new opportunities.”

Comfort vs Cost
After three days around the exhibition in Hamburg, it is clear that many OEMs and industry vendors are indeed innovating in an effort to enhance passenger comfort, but the reality is that ambition can be somewhat tempered by airlines’ business models.

As Bombardier’s Baudis said: “The dilemma for airlines is the following: they need to become extremely efficient in Economy Class because passengers want comfort, but the same passengers will also select a flight based on a USD10 difference on the Internet.”

While many airlines can rightly be accused of not doing enough to improve comfort levels in Economy Class, aircraft seat designers and manufacturers can certainly not be accused of ignoring the issue. The challenge they face, however, is to convince the airlines, their own customers, to prioritise comfort over density, or at least to find an acceptable balance. Of course, this is easier said than done in a low-margin industry like air transport.

]]>
Jeju Air offers passengers on overnight flights the option to stretch out http://www.robmurphylaw.com/2017/04/10/jeju-air-sleeping-seat-package/ Mon, 10 Apr 2017 10:52:29 +0000 http://www.robmurphylaw.com/?p=10920

DATE Moving beyond the low hanging – and very profitable – ancillary fruit of checked bags, advance seat reservations, extra legroom seats and last-minute upgrades, airlines are becoming more creative in generating revenues beyond just the ticket fare.

One way to approach ancillary innovation is to look at the different needs passengers travelling in the same class may have. For example, SWISS has recently introduced a fee to pre-reserve one of the popular solo business class seats on its A330 and B777-300ER aircraft.

In Economy, airlines are increasingly offering passengers options for more comfort at a time when seat density is increasing and load factors are high.

Empty Seat Option
South Korean low-cost carrier Jeju Air – which flies between South Korea and Japan, China, Taiwan, Guam, Saipan, The Phillipines, and Bangkok with a fleet of 26 single class B737-800s – has come up with a clever, hands-on, way to generate last-minute ancillary income, low-cost style.

About two years ago, Jeju Air introduced a ‘Side Seat’ offer, which is similar to OptionTown’s ‘Empty Seat Option’ (adopted by airlines such as AirAsia X, Vietnam Airlines and Spicejet), and lets travellers purchase one or two seats next to their own seat, in an effort to sell last-minute seat inventory.

Whereas the Empty Seat Option lets passengers purchase an option to a possible empty seat for a small fee and be notified if an empty seat is available 1 to 3 days before their flight, Jeju Air’s passengers can only book the additional seats at their departure airport on the day of the travel (up to 1 hour before boarding).

Jeju Air’s ‘Side Seats’ are priced at USD 10 for domestic routes, USD 25 on routes to and from Japan and China’s Shandong region, USD 30 on flights between South Korea and Southern China and Taipei, whereas the fee for a last minute extra seat is USD 50 on routes to and from Southeast Asia (Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand) and Oceania (Guam, Saipan).

Jeju Air ‘Sleeping Seat Package’
On longer routes onboard Jeju Air’s B737-800s, the airline also offers passengers the option to purchase a ‘Sleeping Seat Package’. If a passenger purchases two extra ‘Side Seats’ (for a fee of USD 100) in addition to his or her main seat, a pillow and blanket are added as they now have a row of seats to themselves. By raising the arm rests of the middle seat a passenger can then stretch out horizontally on three seats.

The ‘Sleeping Seat Package’ service is available on Jeju Air routes between South Korea and Guam, Saipan, Manila, Cebu, and Bangkok. These flights depart in the evening between 8 to 10pm and the flight duration is around 4 to 6 hours.

Jeju Air’s ‘Sleeping Seat Package’ is a clever way to monetize a free perk that previously reserved for passengers who found themselves on a quiet flight and who could then occupy a row of empty seats at no additional costs.

]]>
Emirates crew use smartphones to take Business Class passengers’ F&B orders http://www.robmurphylaw.com/2017/04/03/emirates-meal-ordering-device-business-class/ Mon, 03 Apr 2017 19:45:34 +0000 http://www.robmurphylaw.com/?p=10927
images by PaddleYourOwnKanoo

DATE Staff taking drink and meal orders using a digital device is a common thing in bars and restaurants around the world. Meanwhile, casual dining restaurant chains and airport F&B operators now let customers place their orders themselves, either via a tablet provided by the restaurant or via an app on their own smartphone.

Now the airline industry is taking its first steps in this digitally-enabled F&B service. Besides the handful or airlines – including Air New Zealand, Japan Airlines, FlyDubai and Virgin America – that allow passengers to place orders via the in-seat IFE system, Emirates has recently issued so-called ‘Meal Ordering Devices’ to all its flight attendants who work in Business Class.

Meal Ordering Device (MOD)
Cabin crew recruitment portal PaddleYourOwnKanoo reports that the MOD smartphones connect to a plug-and-play WiFi router which is separate from the onboard connectivity system that passengers use.

All the smartphones (Samsung Galaxy A7) are synced to communicate with one another for the duration of the flight, don’t have a SIM card, and have been blocked from running any applications apart from the bespoke Meal Ordering app.

“The orders are taken on a hand held device and are instantly reflected on a tablet in the galley. Each order is then prepared immediately making service faster, more efficient and more personal,” said Terry Daly, Divisional Senior Vice President, Service Delivery at Emirates.

As Australian Business Traveller rightly puts it: “With as many as 76 business class passengers on an Emirates A380, the technology is proving to be a significant time-saver in keeping those premium passengers feed and watered – as well as ensuring what they’re served is precisely what they ordered, without slip-ups.”

To take account of passengers individual needs the phones are synced with Passenger Number Records (PNR) before take-off.? Along with the name and seat assignments for every passenger, the app can also tell crew about the status of the passenger, whether they were upgraded, their meal preferences and whether there are any ‘special’ notes about them.

The service was originally trialled on flights between Dubai and Paris, Mauritius, and Melbourne/Auckland and will be rolled out fleetwide at the end of May this year. Cabin crew have received a one-day, hands-on training course for the new devices.

Knowledge-driven Inflight Service (KIS)
Emirates several years ago has also equipped its pursers with tablets containing its ‘Knowledge-driven Inflight Service’ (KIS) system. Pursers can see which previous trips a passenger has taken with the carrier before and based on this, know their food, wine and seating preferences, or any issues a customer had during their travels.

Furthermore, pursers can use the KIS device to brief the cabin crew before the flight, get an overview of the various languages spoken by the crew on the flight, as well as review flight attendants on the spot. Cabin crew can also use the KIS system to perform in-flight upgrades to Business or First Class, as well as post customer feedback.

]]>