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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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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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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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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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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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What do Business travelers look for when picking a hotel says survey

by amit.uniyal 30. April 2014 10:05

Choice Hotels International, looking into the preferences and practices of business travelers commissioned a survey recently. Survey was done to find the parameters on the basis of which business travelers book their hotels. A total of 529 travelers participated in the survey.

As per the survey, the location of the hotel was the utmost important thing for business travelers. 73% said that their main criterion of picking a hotel on their business trip is its location. They want their hotel to be centrally located and accessible.

business travelers commissioned

The next on their priority was the room quality. 61% travelers said it is critical for them to check the quality of the hotel they are staying in. Availability of Wi-Fi came third with 55% in favor of it. As per Choice Hotels' senior vice president of global distribution, Robert McDowell, internet connectivity has become a crucial amenity for business travelers. Most of them carry more than one gadget with them and are in dire need to be connected all the time.

The survey also revealed an interesting fact, that most of the travelers prefer working in their own rooms. This is contrary to the fact that most of hotels across the globe are spending millions of dollars in decking up their common and business areas. Nearly 84% said that they would choose to work in their own comfort zone, sitting in their room and not in the business center or the lobby area of the hotel.

The survey also stated that more and more travelers are using their tablets, phablets and smart phones to book their hotels. Nearly 76% hotels are being booked online. Not only this, 60% travelers are even using technology to check-in into the hotels. Understanding the ongoing surge of mobile apps, Choice Hotels has launched an app allowing travelers to book hotels in three simple clicks. Since more and more hotels are booked last minute, hence they have made an easy to use and navigate application, enabling travelers to book their hotel in a jiffy.

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Technology makes air travel easier for mobile phone users

by amit.uniyal 25. April 2014 07:42

Information Technology is working wonders for air travelers and making their travel much easier than ever before. Leading IT provider company SITA has recently upgraded its application iTravel. This has come as a boon for tech-savvy passengers traveling with mobile phones. Nearly 120 airlines as well as ground handlers are currently making use of iTravel to provide services to the passengers.

The iTravel service is proving to be a tremendous success for the airlines. It has allowed numerous carriers to implement passenger booking and check-in apps for Android as well as Apple phones.  The airlines have also implemented a web app for mobile usage on other devices with the help of this technology.

smart phone technology

The iTravel service has incorporated the latest user interfaces using the smart phone technology to its full advantage for providing better service and convenience to the passengers.  

The iTravel service provides some essential features. The interactive user interface is quite attractive for the passengers. They are being offered relevant deals according to their current location. The iTravel is helping the airlines to use geo-location and flight search while making successful use of graphical maps. Four airlines are currently making use of the latest updates provided by iTravel. The airlines have also reported that passengers are increasingly using their mobile services after the implementation of iTravel.

SITA Vice President for Passenger Solutions Allison O’Neill remarked that it is being witnessed that passengers are increasingly desirous to make use of their mobile phones during the course of their journey. Nearly 76 percent passengers are now traveling with smartphones. However, using mobile phones for booking and check-in continues to be below 5 percent. He said that iTravel will address this issue and will be user friendly as much possible.

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Hawaiian Jetstar expanding flights to-from Honolulu this year

by amit.uniyal 22. April 2014 09:51

Air travel to/from Honolulu is set to become more easy in 2014 with flight operations expanding at a fast pace. Various airlines such as Hawaiian Airlines, Mokulele Airlines and Jetstar have expanded their operations.

Media reports recently said that Hawaiian Airlines has decided to increase its frequencies to American Samoa this summer. The third weekly flight between Pago Pago and Honolulu will start from June 18. The flights are being started considering the growing passenger demand. The seasonal flight will operate on Wednesdays every week and will be operational for one month only until July 16.

Hawaiian flights

Presently, the service on Pago Pago-Honolulu route is operating on Mondays and Fridays. The flights between the two destinations are being operated with the help of a Boeing 767-300 aircraft with a 264-seat capacity.

Hawaiian Airlines also launched its first ever flights services to mainland China. The new flight was launched in mid April this year. The flights will operate between Honolulu and Beijing thrice weekly with the help of an Airbus A330-200 aircraft configured with 294 seats. The flights on Honolulu-Beijing route will operate on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays every week.

Australian low-cost carrier Jetstar has also announced to launch nonstop flights between Brisbane and Honolulu starting from December 15, 2014. The airline will be operating thrice weekly flights during peak season, while twice weekly flights will be operated during off-peak season.

After the exit of inter island airline go! from Hawaii, another carrier Mokulele Airlines has decided to launch nonstop inter-island flights between Honolulu and Maui. The airline will be initially serving the two destinations in Hawaii twice daily. The airline also plans to increase the frequencies to five times daily in future.

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Mobile service to extend to majority airlines airports by 2016

by amit.uniyal 17. April 2014 07:43

Checking flight status updates using mobile phones is being gradually taken up by the passengers. And, this is going to pick fast in the coming years. A recent study has indicated that most of the airlines as well as airports are bracing to extend the mobile service by 2016 end. The study said that more than half of passengers traveling by air will be using their mobile phones to check the airport directions, baggage status and flight status.

The study “Smart Thinking” was conducted by SITA and released in Dublin recently at CAPA’s Airlines in Transition Summit. The study made public revealed that 90 percent of airports and 100 percent of airlines are currently making huge investments in business intelligence solutions for providing the passengers intelligent information access regarding their operations and other services.

Mobile service to extend to majority airlines

SITA is a premier IT and communications provider to the aviation industry worldwide. A global research is regularly conducted by SITA on passengers, airlines and airports. The study is considered a unique opportunity to get a fascinating insight into the entire airline industry, assess potential for growth, and identify alignment as well as misalignment.
 
The recent study is based on a global research and appropriately incorporated additional inputs by various airports worldwide and leading airlines. These included London Heathrow, London City Airport, Dublin Airport Authority, Saudi Arabian Airlines and British Airways.

The study indicated that flight status updates have already become a mainstream mobile service and will be further extending its reach within two years. The study disclosed that 79 percent of airports across the world will start providing status notifications such as walking time to gate and queues times through security. Nearly 61 percent of the airlines will begin providing baggage status updates. More than three quarters of the airports will start offering navigation assistance for way-finding through mobile apps.

The study made public by SITA aptly demonstrates and dwell at length on how the focus today is to build and solidify the base for business intelligence. The efforts are also to look ahead to use the combination of predictive analysis and business intelligence to vastly improve the ground experience of the passengers, while making optimum use of the space and infrastructure at the airports.

The study pointed out the utter helplessness of the airports and airlines in tackling untoward events such as bad weather conditions in the past. The report said that during such emergency situations the airlines and airports were left with no choice but to fine-tune the disrupted flight schedules. The use of business intelligence therefore becomes critical in the present times. The study concluded that by using the business intelligence to their advantage there will be more scope for preventive action before situations like bad weather are actually predicted. The business intelligence will play a more proactive role by successfully analyzing the past events and combining it with live data feeds from various sources and assist in predicting the future events. With the business intelligence the airline industry and passengers stand to gain immensely as the transformation from reactive to proactive and onwards to preventive will be complete.

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Pampering business travelers becomes phenomenon with airlines

by amit.uniyal 15. April 2014 10:50

It’s becoming more of a phenomenon with airlines to pamper their business travelers more than before. This trend has brought cheers to the passengers giving them awesome experience on the ground as well as at 30,000 feet above in the air.

Spend a night on a long-haul flight and walk off the aircraft straight into the boardroom fully relaxed and refreshed. The airlines in their eagerness to keep the loyalty of their business class travelers intact have devised new ways in pampering them.

business class travelers

Spa chains started mushrooming in airport concourses a decade ago. Now on-the-go grooming has become a rage with the business executives, whether getting Christian Dior’s in-flight body lotion or spending time at manicure stations at the airports. A recent report published in 2014 said that a spa can be found at the major airports around the world these days.

A study published last year said that spas were considered among popular airport amenities in the United States. The study said that men are taking more to facials and massages than the females. Nearly 78 percent of men were getting their hair done, most of them being business travelers.

According to the study, XpresSpa is among the largest international airport spa chains in the United States. It opened its first spa at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport a decade ago. Today it has opened spas in more than 50 locations around the world, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orange County, Philadelphia, Miami and Minneapolis.

Apart from spas, many airlines are also offering other amenities to keep their first class and business class customers cheerful. Delta Air Lines is offering amenity kits to its customers traveling in BusinessElite cabins on international routes. The amenity kits consist of neroli-scented hand and body lotion by Tumi and Malin & Goetz lip moisturizer.

Amenity kits have also been introduced by Singapore Airlines for its first class and suite customers traveling on long-haul international flights. The amenity kits comprise of moisturizers of four different kinds procured from the French beauty brand Sothys.

Air France is offering special limited-edition amenity kits to its customers to celebrate its 80th anniversary. The airline is introducing amenity kits in business class during its summer 2014 schedule. The kit will be shaped like a portfolio and will have Clarins products. Even United Airlines is not lagging behind. It has also unveiled limited-edition amenity kits for its customers in business class. The kits are made of a different type of steel and will be more of souvenirs.

Cathay Pacific Airways had also last year offered amenity kits to its business class customers on long-haul international flights. The kits consisted of products from an Australian brand Jurlique. Various products such as citrus hand cream, lip balm and day cream were provided in the kits.

Among other airlines offering amenity kits to their premium customers include Qatar Airways and Airberlin. The amenity kits offered by Qatar Airways include a perfume and eau de toilette by Salvatore Ferragamo, hand cream and lip balm.

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