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Airlines grapple to retain focus on first class travelers

by amit.uniyal 28. May 2014 08:02

Premier Middle East carriers like Etihad Airways and Emirates Airline are striving hard to continue to offer first class cabins to their premium travelers. However, even as the airlines have upgraded their offerings, recent data released by the Centre of Aviation or Capa has shown that first class air travel is constantly on the decline.

Recent reports said that Etihad Airways and Emirates Airline have innovated new luxury travel concepts. Flying bedrooms have been introduced by airlines hoping to catch travelers’ fancy. Such bedrooms are akin to the ones found in a hotel or a luxury yacht.

luxury travel concepts

The reports said that Etihad Airways in May this year began offering premium travel experience to its customers. The airline introduced business studios, apartments and private suites on its aircraft. Emirates Airline has also decided to emulate Etihad’s premium travel offering. The airline is planning to introduce new “bedroom concept”.
 
The data released by Capa pointed out that the London Heathrow-New York JFK route continues to the most popular among first class travelers in the world. The travelers were offered 159 first class seats on an average per day between May 12 and May 18. This route in fact offered a total of 1,116 weekly seats in first class.

The study by Capa further said that American Airlines removed its first class cabins on its Boeing 777-200 aircrafts fleet. According to the data, that airline flew 560 first class passengers on its 35 weekly flights on London Heathrow-New York JFK route in May 2012 as compared to 168 seats on its 21 weekly flights in May 2014.

In yet another data released by IATA, the premium first class traffic also showed sharp decline in recent months with China demand on the wane. The Middle East sector only performed solidly on this front. The data also outlined that there was a slowdown in premium travel in March this year. The IATA report citing the Middle East performance disclosed that tourism and economic growth had accelerated in this region thus proving that it continues to be among the strongest markets for air travel in the world.
 
The reports concluded that the premium offerings are being constantly being reviewed by various airlines world over. The first class cabins are being sustained by only few airlines. The Capa report pointed out an increasing trend of more business class lie-flat seats is being seen, with first class air travel demand shrinking.

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Airline News

Southwest Airlines launches mobile boarding program at McCarran

by amit.uniyal 24. May 2014 09:46

Southwest Airlines is continuing to move ahead with its mobile boarding pass program and has now expanded the facility to its passengers taking flights out of McCarran International Airport. The airline has announced that its customers at McCarran will now be able to make use of their mobile phones to complete their security checks and board their flights.

Southwest Airlines, which is currently the largest airline at McCarran International Airport, had earlier launched its pilot program in 2013 at Dallas and Austin. The mobile boarding pass program was primarily launched to help passengers to pass through security checks and ultimately board their flights with the help of their mobile phones.

Southwest Airlines will now provide 
mobile boarding passes

With the expansion at McCarran, Southwest Airlines will now provide mobile boarding passes for travel from 28 cities on its network currently. These cities include Tampa, San Jose, San Diego, Phoenix, Orlando, Oakland, Nashville, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Fort Myers, Denver, Chicago Midway, Austin, Albuquerque, St. Louis, San Francisco, Sacramento, Philadelphia, Orange County/Santa Ana, New Orleans, Milwaukee, Las Vegas, Houston Hobby, Fort Lauderdale, Dallas Love Field, Baltimore/Washington and Atlanta. The airline is however planning to extend this program to its customers in all the cities within the United States where it is serving.

The process for getting a mobile boarding pass is simple. The customers taking Southwest Airlines flights out of any 28 cities will be required to place a request through the airline’s website, mobile site or mobile app.

The airline however indicated that the mobile boarding passes will not be provided to all the passengers. Those excluded from this category include passengers on military fares, senior fares, unaccompanied minors and infants. The airline also indicated that this facility is also not available to those traveling on its long-haul international flights or AirTran Airways-operated flights.

Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines recently announced it is extending its flight schedule as well as introducing $99* or less one-way fare from Dallas Love Field Airport. The destinations where the airline is extending its schedule and introducing cheap airfares include Washington Reagan National, Los Angeles, Denver, Baltimore/Washington, Orlando, Las Vegas and Chicago Midway. The airline will be offering introductory fares to these destinations starting from October 13 through November 2, 2014.

Southwest Airlines also said that starting from November 2 it will expand its nonstop service to other cities as well with introductory $99* one-way fare. These cities include Tampa Bay, San Diego, New York LaGuardia, Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood, Santa Ana/Orange County, Phoenix, Nashville and Atlanta.

The airline further announced it is introducing flights to new international destinations including Mexico City and Punta Cana. The new flights are available for booking through January 4, 2015.

* The airfares are one-way and inclusive of airport fees, government taxes and fuel surcharges. Other terms and conditions are applicable.

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Airline News

Customer Satisfaction in Aviation Industry Reaches New Heights

by amit.uniyal 21. May 2014 09:25

It seems that customers aren’t complaining about the airlines - at least, not as much. As per a recent survey conducted in the North American aviation industry by J.D. Power and Associates stated that travelers have never been more satisfied by the airlines they are flying in.

It may be hard to believe but the fact stays that passengers are happier with their respective airline providers despite innumerable charges and fluctuating ticket prices. The survey judged passenger satisfaction level on the basis of in-flight services; costs and fees; reservations; check-in; boarding, flight crew, aircraft, de-boarding and baggage. The survey was conducted on over 11,000 passengers who flew in the North American region in 2013.

1000 point passenger satisfaction attained 712 points

On a scale of 1000-point passenger satisfaction attained 712 points, an increase of 17 points on y-o-y basis. The most interesting finding of the survey was that passengers were happy with the cost and fees levied by the airline. The scores improved to 642 from last year’s 618. As per a market expert, it is not that passengers are happy with the ongoing price rise of airfares and other services, but just that they have accepted this as a reality of air travel making them a little less dissatisfied.

The survey also reflected that customers are satisfied with some parts of their air travel; however uncomfortable seating was their biggest point of concern. They particularly disliked seats with less leg room, elbow space and seats that are not that comfy.

As far as baggage charges were concerned the satisfaction level rose from 37 to 40 percent in 2013. They know that they do not have a way out as far as baggage fees is concerned hence they have accepted this harsh reality.

Seattle based Alaska Airlines topped the satisfaction score with 737 amongst traditional North American carriers, making it seven in a row for the airline. Its scores increased by 20 points as compared to 2012. Delta Air Lines received second highest satisfaction score of 693 points followed by American Airlines (684), Air Canada (683), United Airlines (658) and US Airways (656).

In the low-cost carrier section JetBlue scored the highest with a score of 789. This was its tenth consecutive victory. By topping the survey, it indicated that passengers preferred an airline that offered live TV on flights, creating an important divergence in their overall flying experience. Southwest Airlines came second with 778 points followed by WestJet with 734, Air Tran Airways with 708 and Frontier Airlines with 676 points.

Alaska got another feather in its cap by receiving first rank in the quality and usability of airline frequent flier programs category with 757 points on a 1,000-point scale. Southwest Airlines followed second (731 points) with its Rapid Rewards program. This was followed by JetBlue’s TrueBlue program (707), United Airlines (686), American Airlines (685) and US Airways (642). Loyalty/rewards survey was based on factors including reward program terms; variety of benefits available; ease of redeeming points or miles; customer service; ease of earning points or miles and account maintenance.

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Industry News

Oneworld Open to Consider Indian Carrier as Member

by amit.uniyal 9. May 2014 04:59

Oneworld, global airlines group said that it is open to consider an Indian carrier as part of the alliance group, provided the airline offers expected service standards and complements its present member airlines. Kingfisher was the only airline from the India to be a part of this group, which at present is nonfunctional due to financial reasons.

global airlines group

Bruce Ashby, CEO Oneworld said, we will definitely consider an Indian carrier provided it meets the same standards as Kingfisher did. However we haven’t had any serious discussion with any Indian carrier, since the Kingfisher fiasco occurred. We are very clear when it comes to adding a new airline to our group. Service standards cannot be compromised at any cost. Also the new airline has to complement fellow airline members.

Ashby said, Oneworld does not have any Indian carrier under its wings, but it marks its presence in India with the help of members' airlines like Sri Lankan Airlines and Qatar Airways.

India is primarily serviced by low-cost carriers. To be a part of this alliance, LCCs will have to attain higher levels by upgrading themselves. He quoted the example of airberlin, Germany’s budget carrier, which became its member in 2012, after adapting new technology and changing its business model.

Oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance are three airlines groupings in the world. There are 15 members in Oneworld, 19 in SkyTeam and 26 in Star Alliance, making it the largest amongst the three.

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Airline News

SriLankan Airlines Joins Oneworld

by amit.uniyal 5. May 2014 09:45

National carrier of Sri Lanka, SriLankan Airlines has become a member of oneworld. The airline will now offer complete range of services and benefits of oneworld. With this it has become the first South Asian carrier to join the global alliance.

SriLankan Airlines now the 15th international airline to be a part of the oneworld alliance will now rub shoulders with the likes of Cathay Pacific, British Airways, American Airlines and more, giving it admittance to hundreds of airports and smother connectivity to thousands of destinations worldwide. With this alliance, the airline will gain access to a combined fleet of nearly 3,300 aircrafts and expand its reach to nearly 900 destinations in 150 countries from its present 72. The airline also announced its codeshare with S7 Airlines and Finnair, both being oneworld partners.

SriLankan Arlines

Kapila Chandrasena, CEO, SriLankan Airlines said our addition to oneworld as the first South Asian airline directly implies flying to not just Sri Lanka but to other regions like Maldives and India will also become easier and smoother. With this alliance two more destinations namely Hambantota, Southern Sri Lanka and Tiruchirapalli, South India are being added to the alliance network. He further said that we are planning to fly to few more Indian cities, and we are working on the economics for the same.

Bruce Ashby, CEO of Oneworld said, by adding Sri Lankan Airlines to our alliance group we have successfully completed our biggest ever expansion done since our inception. At present we cater to nearly 500 million passengers and 14,250 departures on a daily basis.

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Airline News

Jet Airways to offer mobile check-in service to passengers

by amit.uniyal 2. May 2014 08:56

Travelers flying on Jet Airways and its codeshare airlines will now be able to make use of their phones to check-in and get e-boarding passes. Jet Airways is offering a self check-in application for mobile devices. This application can be downloaded on smart phones running on iOS, Android, BlackBerry 10 and Windows.

Offering a plethora of enhanced features like interactive seat map, unique system recognizing check-in members and convenient check-in for code-share and interline flights and more, this mobile app will allow users to smoothly log in to the official website of the airline. Through this app users whether traveling with an infant of child or traveling in a group on a single PNR will be able to check-in with ease. Guests will also be able to update their frequent flyer number and add their meal choice preference ahead of their flight.

phones to check-in

Interactive seat map is another big change offered in this app. Passengers will now be able to view the complete seat-layout including non-reclining seats, companion seats and emergency exit seats through their mobiles devices. Once the user has been able check-in successfully, he/she will receive their e-Boarding Pass on their e-mail id. User can then either print the e-boarding pass or save a copy in their gadget for future use.

Senior Vice President – Commercial for Jet Airways, Gaurang Shetty commented, as far as technological advancements are concerned we have always been a leader in the industry. Bringing innovative products for the betterment and convenience of our users, is our utmost goal and by introducing this mobile app, we have taken one more step ahead towards this goal. We are committed towards using technology to offer better user experience. This all new self check-in service will make travel easy, quick and will provide a higher level of convenience to our users.

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United Introduces New Mobile App for Android Users

by amit.uniyal 1. May 2014 10:55

United Airlines has finally introduced a new Android based mobile application for its users. This application is also being optimized for KitKat, the latest Android operating system.

United said that this new application is user-friendly, offers bettered touch-friendly layout, smoother functionality and new features. Some of the new features introduced include ability to rotate the screen, save more than one boarding pass and more. This app also employs a new home screen widget. This android app is launched on the heels of United’s re-designed mobile app for iOS 7 platform. The latest version of iOS 7 app was introduced only last year.

introduced a new Android based mobile 
application

Just like in iOS 7, the android version will also allow users to views the seating layout more clearly, pick more travel choices and buy award tickets on more than one flight.

Scott Wilson, United's vice president of merchandising and ecommerce, said that it’s our endeavor to extend a mobile app that helps passengers find what they want and when they want. We are striving hard towards providing such an application that ensures seamless and quicker travel experience. In 2013, United had also launched Windows Phone 8 based mobile app. And by the end of 2014, we will introduce the upgraded version of the iOS 7 app.

United Airlines is the first American carrier to offer mobile boarding passes. Not only this, it also became the first U.S. airline to introduce mobile boarding at all the domestic airports. At present united offers mobile boarding facility at 55 international airports, which is more than any other U.S. carrier.

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