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Cramped seats and stale peanuts used to be the hallmark of most airlines.
Today, the state of air travel isn’t quite so depressing – even if some budget airlines stand by their dedication to no-frills ‘efficiency’.
Improvements are being made, with low-cost airlines also recognising that a positive travel experience is likely to lead to long-term loyalty. Experience is the operative word here, of course, as brands focus on reaching customers in the very moment of travel rather than before or after the point of booking.
How exactly? Here’s a few examples.
Easing travel worries
Losing luggage is most people's worst nightmare, but the arrival of tracking technology now means that customers can rest reassured their bags will be there to meet them on the other side.
Delta airlines was one of the first companies to introduce RFID bag-tracking, which captures highly accurate data stored on a special chip embedded in a luggage tag. Travellers can see their bags going on and off the plane via push notifications from the Fly Delta mobile app, which they can also access in-flight.
While this does not prevent mishaps from happening, it still provides customers with extra reassurance and peace of mind in the moment.
According to research by Gogo, 83% of global passengers are interested in airlines having Wi-Fi connectivity in-flight, with 23% willing to pay extra in order to get it.
While this service remains somewhat limited elsewhere, it is available to US passengers, with many airlines introducing ViaSat – technology that enables higher-speed internet access in the skies.
As a result of this, airlines are also launching tie-ins with popular streaming services. Passengers flying on select Virgin America flights can sign into their Netflix account to stream shows to their mobile devices or tablets. Meanwhile, JetBlue offers the same service for Amazon Prime customers.
With 71% of global passengers desiring wireless entertainment on a flight, improvement in connectivity outside of the US is certainly in-demand. Luckily, it's definitely on the horizon. Qatar Airways is one other example, using its Oryx Communication system to allow passengers to send MMS and SMS messages as well as access the internet during select flights.
Greater choice and personalisation
It’s easy for airlines to treat passengers as a homogeneous group rather than as individuals, however some airlines are now focusing on making flying a personalised experience.
One way is to offer greater choice when it comes to meals, with some even serving Michelin star food on flights, such as Air France and its partnership with Daniel Boulud.
Naturally, this can come at a price, but it’s not always reserved for business class. Premium economy has risen in popularity in recent years – a standard that’s somewhere in between economy and business, whereby passengers can also choose what extra amenities they’d like to pay for.
As part of a Singapore Airlines premium economy ticket, passengers can access a ‘Book the Cook’ service that allows them to choose from a wider selection of meals, as well as reserve a meal up to 24 hours before a flight.
Meanwhile, it’s not only food that passengers can choose on KLM flights. The dutch airline has introduced a ‘Meet and Seat’ feature, allowing people to view the Facebook or LinkedIn profiles of fellow flyers as well as find out where they’ll be sitting. (With authorisation, that is).
This means that passengers can choose to sit next to people they know, or like a romcom that's just waiting to be made, check out the social profiles of neighbours they find themselves getting to know during the flight.
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