Social zones, “gate-to-gate” recline, and a tablet shelf
Airlines continue to grab headlines by launching new products and services not seen before in the skies. Airlinetrends.com lists the best of these this past year.
One obvious trend is the intensification of efforts to attract higher paying business travellers. China Airlines turned the galley into a social area for its Sky Lounge located in the middle of the Business Class cabin of its B777s. During the flight, passengers can choose to walk up to the self-serve bar for food and drinks and chat with other passengers. Virgin Atlantic has come up with a similar concept with its Wander Wall inflight social zone.
Aer Lingus appears to be listening to its passengers with its new Business Class. As Airlinetrends.com points out, “examples include pre-flight dinner in the airline’s JFK and Boston lounges for passengers who want to maximize their sleep onboard, free wifi and ample stowage space for personal devices, the provision of dinner on demand onboard, tapping into Irish heritage with items such as locally sourced food and the amenity kit cosmetics, and providing pre-flight clearance of US customs and immigration on flights leaving Dublin and Shannon.”
Other innovations listed include Etihad reaching beyond First Class with its new three-room The Residence suite on A380s; the “smart design” of Etihad’s fixed headrest support in Economy seats; and Qantas’ new “gate-to-gate” reclining Business Class seats.
China Airlines’ Family Couch, a version of Air New Zealand’s revolutionary Skycouch, is a flat but flexible space to stretch out and relax in.
Air France and KLM launched a scheme where passengers can label their luggage at home, drop the bags at the fast bag drop and trace their luggage in real-time via smartphone.
Meanwhile, South African Airways built a “tablet shelf” into some Business Class seats where tablets can be slotted for a removable IFE solution and USB power point.
[pictured: China Airlines’ Sky Lounge]