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Now, expect speedier boarding with American Airlines!

May 21st, 2013

Kinny Cheng

The Seattle Times:

FORT WORTH, Texas — In a quest to speed up the boarding process, American Airlines is letting passengers board sooner if they travel lightly.

The airline said Thursday that people carrying just a personal item that fits under the seat — no rolling suitcases — will be allowed to board before most other passengers.

American said the change will allow flights to take off sooner, helping the airline improve its on-time performance.

I’ve been briefed by several different people on the complexities of these boarding procedures in the U.S. of A., which — in most other countries — are much more straight-forward by comparison.

This latest revision by American Airlines should indeed help with the overall pace of boarding. In fact, I still believe it is possible to further simplify the process — but, with all things relating to change, it takes time for people to accept.

A new kind of loyalty: frequent flyer points for cargo shipments!

May 20th, 2013

Kinny Cheng

Via the Etihad Global web site:

Built on a similar platform to the award-winning Etihad Guest frequent flyer program, CargoConnect is targeted at the Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) segment of the global cargo business.

The program allows CargoConnect members to earn Etihad Guest Miles for net revenue paid on Etihad Cargo, and some of the benefits include being able to redeem miles for flights, upgrades, or chose from more than 6,000 items in the Etihad Guest Rewards Shop.

From today, registered CargoConnect members will earn 1 Etihad Guest Mile for every US$2 net revenue paid as general cargo, and 4 Etihad Guest Miles for every US$2 net revenue paid as premium cargo.

For SMEs trying to accrue frequent flyer points on cargo shipments is certainly nothing new, achievable typically via a credit card’s airline rewards program. But for an airline to offer reward points on patronage of its own cargo business is something else — and, curiously, no other airline has yet to do similarly.

I will be interested to see what this will do for Etihad.

That moving map: the airlines’ next ancillary revenue target!

May 13th, 2013

Kinny Cheng

Mary Kirby, sharing her thoughts on the evolution of the in-flight moving map, via The APEX Editor’s Blog:

It’s a generally held belief that the majority of airline passengers who are exposed to inflight entertainment view the moving map at some point during their flight, making it the most popular show in the air.

“Evidence [shows] that passengers get a great deal of comfort out of knowing where they are,” Airborne Interactive CEO Ian Walberg told attendees at a recent APEX educational event in London. “Maps answer the question: ‘Is the torture complete?’” he quipped.

The public generally perceives maps to be free. Whether offered on a personal electronic device (PED) or via IFE, maps have become “a commodity and delivery channel that appears to have no charge associated with it”, says Walberg. Of course, he says, that perception is misplaced, which is why industry stakeholders are exploring ways that airlines can more fully drive ancillary revenue and advertising dollars from moving maps.

Of course, we all know nothing is truly free in this world.

For the longest time I can remember, that moving map has always been an integral part of the flying experience. The first time I ever laid my eyes on one was on a Boeing 747, where it was presented only in a cinematic setting for the entire section of a cabin to experience (little boys and girls who only knows seat-back displays, that luxury did not exist back at the time).

Eventually, this was made more exclusive once on-board in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems became accessible at (virtually) arms reach, where a moving map “channel” became available. With Singapore Airlines, the first-generation Wiseman IFE systems had this showing on video channel 99.

But it has only been recently where the moving map software received a noticeable upgrade, specifically with how some information is now presented more “picturesquely” (that is, more graphically in pictures and/or diagrams), and even with different geographical point-of-views (or visual perspective) too.

So far, this freedom of information hasn’t only been comforting for some, it has also become a right. If a particular airline wishes to add a revenue-generation aspect to it, the design should not hinder the current user experience of the moving map. We all know well what happens once commercialisation overtakes true practicality.

With that said, I also believe the moving map product/service can most certainly become interactive, and successfully add greater value to the overall passenger, or more specifically the traveller’s, experience via various means.

Flying and eating moderately goes hand-in-hand…

May 9th, 2013

Kinny Cheng

David Flynn, of Australian Business Traveller fame, had this to say about the new smaller-sized portions being offered in Business Class on a recent flight to Singapore:

While travellers with a hearty appetite might rate the small plates as just an entree, these downsized dishes are a welcome alternative meal for people who’d prefer to graze more lightly during the flight.

It’s typical, for those of us flying, to stuff ourselves full of food because of the in-flight meals we get provided with.

I, for one, do not like wasting food and would not like to leave anything on the tray before it is finally collected. But as an experienced traveller, I consciously space out my meal times before a flight, and therefore this issue doesn’t really affect me most of the times.

Then, there are those who find it challenging to even finish the different food items on the tray, which ends up being left over and wasted.

For a business class meal service, like the aforementioned, it’s possible to easily make changes to the meal portion sizes, where they are individually prepared and plated in the galley. However, economy class meals are pretty much all set up at the catering facility, and is served immediately from trolley to tray table — which makes it virtually impossible to make similar variations.

Yet, being in economy does allow you to refuse your meal (although it won’t get served to you again later due to health and safety regulations), or even the choice to forego some of the items on the tray (for example: the hot meal, the bread).

This may not be public knowledge, but it could probably be stated on the menu as a possibility, perhaps?

I’m all for eating well — and flying well too! But, ironically, I don’t like letting food go to waste either.

Pay more to fly peak!

May 6th, 2013

Kinny Cheng

Australian Business Traveller:

As airlines around the world search for new ways to put a little more of your money into their pockets, Etihad Airways has come up with a novel concept that not even ‘king of the extras’ Ryanair has nutted out.

Etihad is adding a ‘Peak Day of Week’ surcharge onto flights which depart on a Friday or Saturday.

Who would’ve thought!

(Makes good sense though…)

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