Emirates has integrated a children’s plush toy with a 3D augmented reality (AR) experience. On all flights since 1 December, the carrier has been giving young passengers a Noel the Polar Bear dangler and stuffed animal. However, unlike the rest of Emirates’ Fly With Me Animals, the polar bear comes with a gift card that digitally unfolds to show a 3D AR animation.
Noel’s story, about his family at home in the North Pole and receiving a gift for Christmas, took six months to develop with Buzz Products, whose design studio came up with the original concept for Emirates’ Fly With Me Animals.
Leonard Hamersfeld, director of Buzz, claims, “We understand that technology is as prevalent with children today as it is with adults, and is now a key part of entertaining kids on board. Integrating physical products with technology is an important focus in children’s development and play patterns.”
Buzz Products isn’t the only children’s in-flight entertainment specialist to capitalize on AR. Charlotte Gade, head of Consulting and Concept Development at KIDZInflight, explains, “Kids are the only passenger group that can basically set the agenda for the cabin environment. If the kids aren’t happy the whole cabin can be influenced. Airlines have every interest in keeping kids well-entertained.”
This fact, alongside the success of the Pokémon Go app, which uses AR technology, motivated KIDZInflight to team up with Zappar. Once the app spots a zap code it recognized – Gade says the codes can be printed on kids’ onboard activities and be as small as 8mm in diameter – it uses AR to make them come alive with content such as photos, videos and games.
AR works just as well on the ground, too. Following the introduction of Mr Adventure at London’s Heathrow Airport in the summer of 2016, Heathrow Airport began offering an AR Mr Men Little Miss experience in July of this year.
Children are challenged with helping Mr Adventure and Little Miss Explorer search the terminals to find five hidden badges. The app will identify when a child has reached each badge’s hiding place and will play a 3D animated video, enabling the child to photograph/video themselves with the characters. Once they collect all five, they can receive limited edition iron-on badges from the airport’s information desks.
Heathrow says kids love the surprise of getting real-life badges at the end of the game and, interestingly, the three offers above all link back to more traditional, physical activities and toys. For now, it seems a combination of the two is best at keeping kids entertained throughout their journey.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported on the state of the unruly passenger crisis during the IATA Media Day event in Geneva this week. Tim Coleman, IATA’s assistant director, External Affairs, shared the most recent statistics from IATA’s 2016 Safety Trend Evaluation, Analysis and Data Exchange System (STEADES), which includes reporting from 190 participating airlines.
There were over 58,000 unruly passenger incidents on record from 2007-2016, across all four levels of disruption, categorized by IATA as Level 1-4, which range from failure to comply with safety procedures and crew requirements as level one offense, to an attack on the flight deck as a level four offense. Because the statistics come from only those airlines which participate in STEADES, Coleman said incidents may actually be underreported.
The rate of incidents in 2016 decreased, compared to 2015, with one incident for every 1,434 flights in 2016 versus one in every 1,205 flights during 2015. However, Level 2 incidents – which include physical assault, obscene behavior, verbal threats, harassment, or tampering with emergency or safety systems onboard – increased from 11% of total unruly incidents in 2015, to 12% in 2016.
“In the confines of an aircraft, [Level 2 incidents] are difficult to manage,” Coleman said. “Fortunately, the vast majority of incidents were Level 1 incidents…the good news is that many of these incidents can be managed to a satisfactory conclusion by the cabin crew using de-escalation techniques.”
There was also an increase in the number of unruly passenger incidents where all forms of de-escalation techniques failed, resulting in a need to physically restrain passengers. During 2016, there were 169 of these cases reported, compared to 113 in 2015.
“Governments must do their part by ensuring that we have a strong deterrent.” – Tim Coleman, IATA
Intoxication, caused by alcohol or narcotics, plays a role in a large number of unruly incidents. Though the majority of these (2,844 incidents) were Level 1 events, there were 444 Level 2 incidents attributed to intoxication in 2016. That represents a third of all Level 2 incidents.
“What really is needed is continued focus by multiple stakeholders –by governments, by airlines and airports, and other companies – to implement the comprehensive approach IATA set out in our core principles back in 2014,” said Coleman. “Governments must do their part by ensuring that we have a strong deterrent. And we need airports, airport restaurants, airport bars and duty-free providers to make sure that they are serving, promoting and selling alcohol responsibly so we don’t have incidents of intoxication in the air.”
Philip Baum, managing director, Green Light, Ltd, an expert aviation security and training consultant, gave a special presentation on tools that can help cabin crew prevent escalation of onboard incidents, and also help them de-escalate situations before circumstances require passenger restraints. Baum identified five phases of crisis escalation, as reflected by passenger behavior, pointing out that crew’s ability to detect early signs of trouble, and the way in which they manage those signals, may help avoid more serious incidents onboard.
He summarized the technique using the acronym CAP: Concern, Action, Perspective. Baum said that crew should demonstrate their concern when a passenger first demonstrates a “trigger” of potential unruly behavior, and humanize the circumstances. Action would include sharing information on the triggers observed and also communicating with the passenger on what can be done to resolve their issues, where appropriate. Perspective involves an evaluation of the circumstances, in dialogue with passenger, covering what can be done and how effective that might be. It includes getting the passenger to buy in to the problem being resolved, though in some cases of mental illness or severe intoxication this might not be impossible.
Legal deterrence of unruly behavior is particularly problematic for aviation. “Because of gaps in international law, often times unruly passengers who have committed quite serious offenses are let go without receiving punishment for what they’ve done,” Coleman explained. Under existing international law, the state of the aircraft registration has jurisdiction over the culprit. Because of this, when a flight is operating outside the country in which the aircraft is registered, law enforcement at the arrival airport may fail to take legal action against the unruly passenger.
For the past couple of years, the conversation about in-flight connectivity has focused on whether passengers would be able to stream videos during flight. Consuming entertaining content – and a ton of bandwidth along the way – has been key to a satisfying passenger experience. But download demands do not tell the whole story.
More and more passengers are looking to create and share content on board – not just consume it. From live streaming their window view during takeoff to Snapchatting away in flight to show off an upgrade to business class, they’re pushing media off the aircraft more than ever before. For those dedicated to working during their flight, the ability to send not just an e-mail but also an attachment file makes a massive difference in the success of their connectivity experience.
But how much bandwidth accounts for social media consumption on an aircraft? The details vary, of course, but all indications show that growth in consumption isn’t slowing. With a typical Twitter or Facebook photo upload each coming in at around 500 kilobytes, there’s room for a decent number of them to fly off aircraft, but the shift to more video content online may tax current systems. Whether through Instagram Stories, Snapchat or other live-streaming apps, short bursts of video consume significantly more bandwidth than photos. And users love them.
The introduction of Live Stories on Instagram saw a 28 percent increase in average data consumption per device in just one month, according to Wandera, an enterprise security and data management firm. That number reveals a download spike, but also a burst in video content creators – some of which are on board.
Getting passenger data off the airplane makes for happy customers, but uploading aircraft operational information makes for happy airlines, too. Today, the main driver of data upload is weather reports, with aircraft relaying current conditions to help improve forecasts and reduce bumps en route. But airline operations managers want even more details off the aircraft to improve maintenance and turn times. As full fleet connectivity becomes a more common scenario, data upload will dramatically increase in volume and value.
As a frequent flyer, airport enthusiast and wheelchair user, I have many stories about the care I’ve received from airline staff over the last 20 years. Mostly good, sometimes exceptional and occasionally so poor I was reduced to tears in public, which doesn’t happen often. The best advice I have to offer is to treat me as a human first, a valuable passenger second and, lastly, as a disabled person.
Disabled travelers are required to report to check-in well in advance of those without disabilities. We must follow a different process, which includes being shuffled via lifts and through corridors not open to the general public and security pat downs that are at best embarrassing, and entail vastly more personal contact than is comfortable in public or behind a screen.
“If there is any doubt about what a passenger requires, may I suggest just asking.”
If there is any doubt about what a passenger requires, may I suggest just asking. They may have a personal assistant (PA) with them who may respond on their behalf. A polite question can remove any misunderstanding or awkwardness, and avoid airline and airport employees having to make assumptions about a passenger’s physical or mental ability.
Before boarding, disabled travelers are required report to passenger service teams at different times, while our peers are in duty-free or dining in an airport restaurant to kick off their holiday experience.
The boarding of passengers with restricted mobility should happen first, but I am frequently last, through no fault of my own. The change of order means I have to do the “walk of shame” via the aisle transfer chair (a wheelchair made to fit the narrow airplane aisle) in front of hundreds of fellow passengers, some of whom can be disrespectful – as if I were responsible for causing a delay.
When I’m boarding, I’m thinking about a lot of things in parallel, including the manual handling skills of the staff; the safety and comfort of the aisle chair; and, following the discussion with the chief purser, the location of my expensive, customized wheelchair – usually a combination of overhead bins for its 24-inch carbon fiber wheels and in a closet or the cargo hold for its titanium frame. I’m also keeping track of my carry-on and cushion, and any relatives accompanying me who are not themselves frequent flyers and haven’t before witnessed how strange traveling can be for me.
“By taking a window seat, I have an amazing view, which is 90 percent of the fun – the other
10 percent is talking to the other passengers.”
Once I am in my seat and on my own cushion, which helps to avoid dreaded pressure sores, I usually ask the cabin crew to confirm that my wheelchair definitely made it on board. If they are able to confirm that it has, I may be able to relax a bit. Sometimes I am able to see its frame going into the cargo hold by keeping a close watch out the window.
My preference is a window seat, although the check-in staff will automatically override that seat selection if
I allow it. By taking a window seat, I have an amazing view, which is 90 percent of the fun – the other
10 percent is talking to the other passengers. Sitting by the window ensures that my neighbors needn’t straddle me to exit the row to go to the lavatory. They usually don’t know I cannot stand to allow them out and often we will not have a common language, so the window seat avoids that conversation for me.
If I have to use the lavatory mid-flight, which I try to avoid, a cabin crewmember will arrive with the aisle chair, making it apparent to my seatmates that I need assistance. At this point, they’ll usually willingly move to allow me to exit. It can be hugely awkward if those passengers are sleeping and I have to go urgently, but it’s a chance I take by limiting my fluids and using prescribed medication. I will have eaten in an airport restaurant known to me, if possible (time permitting),
as it is unlikely I will eat the airline meal, in case my stomach suffers an upset and I have to visit the lavatory at high speed via the aisle chair.
If the crew is polite and responsive to my needs, and there are no additional obstacles, the flight is considered a success. Most onboard staff I have met have been top class.
On landing, it is protocol for the majority of passengers to disembark first, and those with restricted mobility to await the empty aircraft so passenger services can board and assist us. This part of the journey often takes the most time, and the waiting can be tense due to the unknown outcome ahead. Waiting for the passenger service bus with the lift can take much longer than expected, especially if one of the vehicles is on the other side of the terminal or out of service.
Frequently, we will then board a bus to take us to the terminal. Hopefully, on the bus, I can transfer back into my wheelchair – it is an awful feeling to learn it has gone to the baggage carousel. If reunited with my chair, I check if there is any obvious damage, but the better test is when I am back in the terminal and rolling. At that point, I will do a quick assessment to confirm it is in the condition I handed it over in. Only once I am at my final destination and have used the wheelchair for a day or two will I be fairly certain that it is in good shape.
Even with everything I have noted above, flying is still a joy to me – the adventure, the freedom, the random in-flight conversations. And it is completely enhanced by the quality of the staff engagements I have in airport terminals and airplane cabins. The care shown and the service received will impact my mood for the day and the rest of my trip, and that is priceless.
Thailand-based startup Mobipax’s in-flight cabin service app incorporates blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) to improve customer service, customer recognition, claims management and in-flight sales. The cloud-based mobile solution gives flight attendants access to information including passenger preference data and customer feedback, enabling them to offer better, more personalized service. Since it runs on Android and iOS devices, the app requires no upfront investment, instead earning revenue through a per-flight fee.
“Mobipax uses blockchain for inventory management of the merchandizing module,” Roland Heller, cofounder of Mobipax, told APEX Media. “All inventory movements (adjustments, transfers, sales, uplifts, replenishments, distributed warehouse management and supplier deliveries) are kept in a private distributed blockchain.” Blockchain is the current go-to for secure data transfer, as records are impossible to alter once they’re created.
Heller added that Mobipax uses AI for inventory optimization and pricing, based on actual sales as well as missed sale opportunities. The system predicts the required inventory by analyzing previously-recorded demand based on route, flight time, seasonality, passenger profile and actual behavior. Like an eager student, a well-built AI learns from what it’s gotten right and wrong in the past.
“If you’re standing at row 16, it should automatically show details about passengers sitting in row 16.” – Roland Heller, Mobipax
Mobipax features an offline mode for in-flight use, allowing flight attendants to synchronize the app before takeoff and then use it in airplane mode without any safety issues. The information recorded during the flight is synced again once the cloud connection is re-established.
Mobipax developed the first portable sales-on-board solution for Swissair in 1996. As technology platforms evolved, so did the potential for reimagining in-flight interactions. “We analyzed the market and the competitors,” said Heller. “The big ones have tablet-based solutions and all of them require up-front investments and ongoing usage cost are high. That might be acceptable to large airlines, but … [for smaller ones and LCCs] costs are a big issue. Our approach is to offer a low-overhead and low-cost alternative, with the same functional scope, or even better.”
According to Heller, Mobipax’s next steps include making the user interface even easier to use: “In order to make a smartphone user friendly, we need to find a way that the information shown follows the movement of the flight attendant – when you walk from the first row to the back of the plane, the smartphone will automatically scroll and display the information about the correct passengers. If you’re standing at row 16, it should automatically show details about passengers sitting in row 16.”
Earlier this month, EVA Air began providing Erno Laszlo amenity kits to premium economy passengers on long-haul flights from Taipei. This partnership marks the first time the skincare brand has collaborated with an airline since 2000, when it supplied kits for Cathay Pacific’s first-class passengers.
“We have been making world-class products for years and are thrilled to have worked with EVA Air and Galileo Watermark to provide our range for on-board use,” said Patricia Schuffenhauer, chief branding officer at Erno Laszlo. “Partnering with a world-class airline has been a great venture and we look forward to helping provide passengers with an even better experience.”
“We look forward to helping provide passengers with an even better experience.” – Patricia Schuffenhauer, Erno Laszlo
The kit includes an eye mask, a dental kit, ear plugs, a comb, and Erno Laszlo’s Phormula 3-9 Repair Balm for lips and Phelityl face cream, which restores the skin’s pH balance. “EVA air was keen to offer its passengers the very best experience possible within its budget and so we were keen to maximize this,” said Tamara Vazquez Perez, marketing and brand partnerships director at Galileo Watermark, the company that designed and created the kit. “Our objective was to offer all the essentials but deliver them in a truly luxurious way.”
Erno Laszlo has a long-standing reputation for delivering high-quality skincare to the Hollywood elite: Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Greta Garbo were clients. “EVA Air is a well established, 5-star airline that combines contemporary aesthetics with functionality,” said Perez. “The partnership felt natural as Ermo Laszlo is known for its world-class treatments and is the ultimate glamorous skincare brand.”
EVA Air passengers who receive the kit are also eligible for 20% off purchases made at Erno Laszlo’s retail locations in Taiwan and at the Erno Laszlo Institute in New York. The discount also applies to purchases made through the skincare brand’s website.
Travelers at Denver International Airport (DEN) will have access to private digital yoga classes as of November 6. Yoga on the Fly’s inaugural studio will consist of five private rooms, large enough to accommodate a single person, where travelers can practice yoga and meditation by following instructional videos.
Each room will be equipped with an iPad, a Yoga By Numbers mat, Sound Off wireless headphones and yoga props. The videos, which range in length from eight to 20 minutes, are meant to help with recuperation from, and prevention of, the discomforts often experienced by passengers, like poor circulation, muscle aches and anxiety.
“All of the classes are designed to be accessible to all levels of practitioners,” Yoga on the Fly co-founder Elizabeth Feinstone told APEX Media. “However if you ask our Wellness Advisors for advice, they’ll respond with class suggestions that are best for you in that very moment.”
“We’ve designed a wake-up system in case you fall asleep meditating.” – Avery Westlund, Yoga on the Fly
The Wellness Advisors will also be tasked with ensuring yogis don’t miss their flights. “We’ve designed a wake-up system in case you fall asleep meditating,” explained Yoga on the Fly co-founder Avery Westlund. “When you check in, the Wellness Advisors will document your flight information, including boarding times and gate numbers. We’ll track flight info for the entire time you’re practicing yoga, so we’ll let you know of things like gate changes and flight updates on your way out.”
The studio will also feature a curated retail selection of athleisure wear and travel accessories from wellness brands including MPG Sport, Blooming Lotus Jewelry, Manduka, Zaq, S’well, Go Dash Dot and more. Sessions will range in price from $15 to $60, depending on desired studio time.
Yoga on the Fly is planning to open additional locations in 2018, but DEN seemed like a good place to start. “Even living on the East Coast, we knew so many people who found yoga and a love for healthy living in Denver,” said Feinstone. “When we came for our first visit this summer, we instantly understood why and knew that the people traveling to and from DIA would appreciate what we’re trying to create at Yoga on the Fly.”
In aiming to tackle the persistent problem of baggage management, AirPortr has moved over 47,000 pieces of luggage since its 2016 launch. Riding a growing wave of popularity, the London-based startup has recently locked down a £2 million (USD$2.6 million) investment from Stobart Group, which owns and operates London Southend and Carlisle Lake District airports.
The investment is also a co-branding move: The Stobart Aviation logo will start appearing on AirPortr’s fleet of luggage-transport vans. In announcing the move, AirPortr wrote, “AirPortr and Stobart will work together to improve the customer experience by taking the logistical strain away from airlines and airports and easing the hassle of luggage transport, bag drop and check-in for travelers.”
AirPortr picks up travelers’ luggage, delivers it to the airport and may or may not check it, depending on the airline. The service also delivers luggage from the airport to a customer’s city destination. This suits travelers who have things to do on the way to or from the airport – AirPortr steps in, between passenger and airport, easing the logistical burden on both.
“London airports are at peak capacity and this is having a major knock-on effect on customer experience,” said Stobart Group CEO Warwick Brady, in a press release. “We believe that there are opportunities to improve the experience throughout the aviation supply chain; from hassle-free airports, to well managed and efficient luggage handling. We’re excited to support AirPortr, a business with logistics at its heart, to become another key component to a vertically integrated aviation business capable of improving airport capacity.”
“We can confirm that our next airline customer will be going live with our bag check-in service here in London, next month.” – Randel Darby, AirPortr CEO
AirPortr launched with an exclusive partnership with British Airways for flights in and out of London, but change is in the air. “Whilst we can’t give any names before they can be officially announced, we can confirm that our next airline customer will be going live with our bag check-in service here in London, next month,” AirPortr CEO Randel Darby told APEX Media. “We have more in the pipeline for early 2018, and we’re seeing interest from both full-service and low-cost carriers.”
Looking beyond Britain, the startup is considering expanding into the US and the Middle East. “A recent survey has shown that 51% of users of the bag check-in service said they use it for transatlantic commuting, with JFK being the most popular destination,” said Darby. “The GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] is also an interesting market opportunity for us as there is a culture [in which] passengers are used to traveling with portered luggage, so you don’t have the hurdle of trying to change behavior.”
Besides business travelers, AirPortr’s target market also consists of older flyers who want to add an element of luxury to their journey, as well as young families looking to avoid chaos and tantrums at the airport. Like any seemingly overnight success, AirPortr’s was years in the making: “In just over a month [after launching the service with BA], we went from concept to scaled-up airline delivery service operating at peak season,” said Darby. “What took time was in getting to that point. The service was 18 months in development and in consultation with airline and regulators, and six months of trials.”
Almadesign, Lda is helping to shape the future airline passenger experience with the LIFE Project, which won a Crystal Cabin Award in the Visionary Concepts category in 2012. The Portuguese design company partnered with SETsa, Couro Azul, INEGI, Amorim Cork Composites and Embraer to create an aircraft cabin that features state-of-the-art technology, like floating seats and an immersive infotainment system, while leaving a small environmental footprint. The LIFE Project has since inspired two eco-friendly spin-off projects, DesAIR and NewFACE which both made the Crystal Cabin Award shortlists, in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
“The CCA was one of the strongest global recognition of our work by the aviation industry, our partners and peers.” – Elizabeth Remelgado, Almadesign, Lda
The submission phase for the 2018 Crystal Cabin Award, which recognizes the most significant innovations in aircraft interiors, onboard technology, passenger comfort, efficiency, safety and design, is currently active. Candidates may enter by filling out an application form by October 27. The awards now include seven categories, including a new Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity category. Crystal Cabin Award winners will be announced at a ceremony held during Aircraft Interiors Expo, taking place from April 10 to 12 in Hamburg.
Elizabeth Remelgado, senior designer at Almadesign, Lda, gives APEX Media an update on the LIFE Project.
Can you provide a description of the winning concept?
LIFE is an aircraft cabin concept focusing on the use of natural materials. Combining state-of-the-art technology and materials like leather and cork, LIFE presents a vision for a sophisticated cabin with a small environmental footprint. The concept’s design is inspired by the symbiotic relationship between natural and artificial elements.
What makes this concept unique?
LIFE is prepared for business (club seating and executive area) and private use (bedroom and toilet). An immersive spherical infotainment system serves for both work and leisure purposes. The innovative design of the windows, conceptually integrated in a composite isogrid airframe, provides great visibility and natural light.
How does the concept improve the airline passenger experience?
The interactive sphere with an immersive infotainment system serves for both work and leisure purposes, being LIFE’s central feature for the passenger experience. The floating seat concept, the window design and interactive lighting system are also concepts which improve the flight experience and passenger comfort. The use of natural materials highlights the eco-efficient conscience of the manufacturer and for the passenger, a natural contact with all the surrounding surfaces.
How has the concept developed since winning a Crystal Cabin Award?
The concept was further developed in a spin-off project called NewFACE. The composite isogrid structure was developed in a twin engine, v-tail aircraft concept design. This project was a collaboration between the same partners and developed interior and exterior configurations for 2030, focused on eco-efficient solutions and passengers’ needs. Some of the specific material and technological solutions proposed in LIFE were also further developed in a spin-off project called DesAIR, in which a galley for an executive jet was developed, using a novel approach to a recyclable thermoplastic cork core composite material.
How has the Crystal Cabin Award contributed to the development of this concept?
The Crystal Cabin Award strongly contributed to the dissemination of Almadesign’s work, and had a central role in internationalizing the company’s design services. Since then, Almadesign reinforced its role as a player in the aviation sector, with new global clients and partnerships in innovation projects and R&D. This pathway in the aviation sector led to the work developed together with Portuguese flagship airline TAP Air Portugal, in the retrofit projects for the short and long-haul fleet aircraft. The cabin interiors were fully redesigned by Almadesign and the project for TAP’s new Airbus A330 NEO is on its way to completion.
Have you since, or would you still like to enter any other projects for a CCA?
Almadesign has applied three times since 2012: with the DesAIR Project in 2015, the NewFACE (Boxwing) Project in 2016 and together with TAP on the cabin interior design for the short-haul fleet retrofit – all of which were shortliste
EasyJet has partnered with Immfly to launch its wireless in-flight entertainment (IFE) service, Air Time. The platform will feature content from Fox Non-Theatrical and Euronews, including TV shows such as, Legion and Modern Family.
Air Time will allow passengers to stream audio books, eBooks, interactive maps, language tutorials and digital retail catalogs on their own devices. Content will be available in English, German, French, Spanish and Italian
“We are enabling easyJet to deliver a compelling in-flight entertainment service, with exciting content and online shopping capabilities delivering a platform fully integrated with leading brands and their services,” said Jimmy Martínez von Korff, co-founder of Immfly.
While Immfly is behind the Air Time wireless IFE portal, Tokyo-based e-commerce company Rakuten will be the official sponsor and content curator of easyJet’s IFE service.
“We are delighted to be collaborating with other innovative partners … ensuring that easyJet crew are able to continue conducting an excellent standard of safety-focused service and onboard hospitality,” said Andrew Middleton, easyJet’s Ancillary Revenue director.
Barcelona-based Immfly’s airline partners include Iberia Express, Volotea and XL Airways. With the addition of easyJet, which carries over 78 million passengers annually, the wireless iFE provider expects to reach 100 million connected passengers by 2018.
The first five easyJet planes equipped with Air Time will take off this autumn.