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The in-flight snack box, and its evolution…

February 28th, 2013

Kinny Cheng

My friend Nikos Loukas, of InflightFeed fame, tells a story of how-and-what in-flight catering has become:

“Fast forward to today and the humble snack box has not only survived the wrath of cabin crew, it has evolved in a big way, offering a plethora of fresh or shelf-stable items that airlines around the world can customise for their passengers (and crew), and reap the benefits from.”

The variety of in-flight meals is now broader than ever! Snack boxes aren’t used just to help the airline lower its bottom-line, but it can actually improve upon a passenger’s light-meal experience by providing tasty, nutritional, and (most importantly) fresh food combinations.

If you have yet to experience an in-flight snack box before, then do check out Nikos’s insightful piece for some much-needed inspiration!

A better way to screen passengers?

February 25th, 2013

Kinny Cheng

Christopher Elliot, posting on LinkedIn:

“Is there a better way to screen air travelers than scanning them?”

Sure there are — there’s never just one way of doing something (for most things in this world anyway).

A detailed brief of the options and technology currently out there. I do agree with one of the commenters that it would’ve been a far-more-interesting read if the writer had dwelled upon the options a bit more.

But nevertheless, a good read.

Southwest does more than just fly people around…

February 22nd, 2013

Kinny Cheng

From the Southwest Blog:

“Last December, Southwest debuted a new ad campaign during football season that highlighted how we give back and make a positive difference in the community.  We may be an airline, but we do some of our best work on the ground, and it always comes from the heart.”

It’s great to learn about what Southwest does in addition to providing air passage throughout most of North America.

From a branding perspective, this gives the airline a unique edge when it’s competing within a market of several hard-hitters, all hoping to win preference. The placement of the said TV commercial made its debut during the football season, in December 2012.

Southwest has a very good marketing plan, and I especially like how they handle the social media aspect of things, especially on Twitter.

Passing air in-flight — what’s the verdict?

February 21st, 2013

Kinny Cheng

From the MedicalXpress web site:

“A group of medical specialists has provided an answer to a dilemma that has faced flyers since the Wright [B]rothers took to the air in 1903—is it okay to fart mid-flight?

The experts’ recommendation is an emphatic yes to airline passengers—but a warning to cockpit crews that breaking wind could distract the pilot and pose a safety risk.”

A sensitive issue — but someone had to deal with it.

It was an interesting read, especially if you wanted to get all your facts in-place before your next flight…

United Airlines provides the finest of passenger experiences (yet again!)

February 21st, 2013

Kinny Cheng

[UPDATE — 22 February 2013 @ 23:50]: Matthew has just posted an update to his original post, which lists some of the developments since posting his original article on the matter. It includes additional observations made by passengers who were also on his flight, plus some additional commentary by Matthew — all of which makes for further (and interesting) reading.

 

Live and Let’s Fly’s Matthew Klint, having come to terms with an unfortunate turn of events last Thursday, explains his ordeal — of being kicked off a United Airlines flight from Newark to Istanbul due to the use of a camera on-board, pre-flight.

First up, Matthew offers a bit of a disclaimer to the facts that follow:

“Live and Let’s Fly has been silent the last three days as I weighed how I wanted to cover what happened to me on a United Airlines flight from Newark to Istanbul last week. The situation was both traumatizing and highly embarrassing and I wanted to ensure that I had ample time to consider what transpired before hurling any accusations or failing to understand the other side. But frankly, the more I replay the incident in my mind, the more certain I become that I was wronged.”

I’ve read Matthew’s reviews before, which I sometimes find to be informative and entertaining (especially for the aviation geek and frequent traveller) to read. On this occasion, when my eyes got up to the word “traumatizing”, I knew this wasn’t going to be your typical in-flight product-service review…

“As I settled into my seat, I pulled out my iPhone to take a few pictures of the seat. When I held the phone at forehead level to take the picture below, a flight attendant came running over and told me that I could not take any pictures of the cabin.

[…]

I looked at the FA, smiled, but said nothing, putting my iPhone away. To be clear, I did not take any more pictures—not a single one.  Meanwhile, another passenger was taking pictures behind the curtain and the FA ran over to him and demanded that he stop as well.”

Different airlines, and countries, have different policies when it comes to the use of cameras in the aircraft cabin. Usually, in cases where on-board photography is not allowed, the crew would advise the passenger to refrain from continuing to doing so — similar to how cell phone users are told to switch their devices off. No biggie.

“Naturally, the FA’s warning bothered me and I felt the need to explain myself. I signaled for her to come back and asked her to hang my coat. I then said this verbatim—

“I want you to understand why I was taking pictures. I hope you didn’t think I was terrorist. Here is my business card [offering her one]. I write about United Airlines on an almost-daily basis and the folks at United in Chicago are even aware of my blog.”

She took my jacket but refused to take my business card saying, “No, that’s okay,” then saying, “I did not know that” after I explained my reason for taking pictures. I again emphasize, I took no more pictures.”

I’m assuming the crew’s demeanour wasn’t very positive, which led Matthew to offer an explanation for his unknowingly-prohibited actions. A perfectly reasonable move for someone who’s being considerate.

But what comes next will be a shock to many…

“A few minutes later a Global Services rep came onboard and asked to have a word with me, motioning for me to follow him. As I walked up front, I noticed the FA who had reprimanded me earlier ducked into the front galley and out of sight.

He was direct—”The captain is not comfortable with you on this flight. You’ll need to gather your things and we’ll find another way to get you to Istanbul.” I was flabbergasted. My first thought was that they had the wrong passenger—they must have wanted the passenger who was arguing.

The GS rep stepped into the galley, around the corner, and asked the FA to verify it was me. She leaned forward, our eyes briefly meant, then she quickly hid herself again. Yes, she meant me.”

What’s with the ducking and avoiding-eye-contact gestures? Why does she seem to be afraid of confronting Matthew when it was only a few minutes ago that they (seemingly) had a perfectly-civil conversation?

One perfectly-logical reasons come to mind: she dobbed Matthew in somehow, and someway…

“I asked to speak to the captain—surely this was a ridiculous misunderstanding. The GS rep would not let me approach the flight deck but offered to talk to the captain on my behalf.  He stepped into the cockpit for a few minutes and a few minutes later the captain emerged. He would not look me in the eyes as we spoke.”

Take note the very-poor demeanour of both flight crew. This time, it was the Captain with a lack of eye contact — which, in most cases, is due to the speaker’s lack of confidence whilst conducting his/her conversation.

And this is the part (of the conversation) that pretty much explains everything we’ve gone over so far:

Captain: My FA tells me she told you to stop taking pictures and you continued to take pictures.

Me: That’s a lie, captain. She told me stop taking pictures and I stopped. I did try to explain to her why I was taking pictures—I am a travel writer [I offered him one of my business cards and he too refused to accept it].

Captain: Look, I don’t care. You are not flying on this flight. You can make this easy or make this difficult. We’ll call the police if we have to.”

Once again, consider the behaviour and body language of both the FA and the Captain, and you would come to the realisation that something just doesn’t smell right. Now, add ‘flight attendant exaggerates about passenger’s inactions’ to the Captain, and ultimately we’re presented with a scenario where Matthew would be deplaned no-questions-asked. The disinterested attitude of the first-in-command, paired with his poor demeanour, illustrates just how pathetic the entire situation had become.

Subsequent to Matthew’s level-headed-but-futile reasoning, the Global Services representative escorted Matthew off the plane, where he was subsequently re-booked on to another flight to Istanbul.

Matthew continues his detailed “review” of the crew’s unprofessional behaviour in his post, which I strongly recommend everybody to read in full, and possibly leave an intelligent comment to make this unfortunate event stand out and actually matter.

It is clear that the original crew member who took issue with Matthew’s actions and words (most probably with that “t” word) should be removed from her role as flight attendant, or even probably shouldn’t be involved in the field of customer service any longer. Her inappropriate actions are not only a disgrace to her colleagues and other practicing flight attendants, but also puts the United Airlines brand and reputation on the line.

For those of you who follow me here and on Twitter, you’d know that I’m not the biggest fan of the American-based legacy airlines, which includes United Airlines. But never would I have expected this kind of insanity being played out, over a matter that (I believe) shouldn’t have become what it has.

Outrageous.

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