Air Flair 2011: Airlines Taking In-flight Comforts to the next level
New trends have been synonymous with the airline business since its inception. The quest to be better, faster and cutting edge in the industry is what keeps airlines in the air, and compels the business and leisure traveler to continue to choose their favorite carrier.
Airlines have to constantly reinvent themselves, follow trends, and test new features to garner frequent flyer loyalty. It is also how airlines have to do business in a competitive consumer marketplace, and especially to prevail in a challenged global economy.
A handful of airlines are listening to passenger requests, some carriers stepping it up with more comfortable seating, mood-lighting, WIFI and better food in-flight.
The multi-billion dollar business traveler sector, pushes airlines to make business travelers more content, creating a homey business class environment with creature comforts such as down comforters, feather pillows, designer overnight kits, and breakfast on the go options. Little luxuries that can make the difference in a business traveler choosing which airline to lend their business and loyalty to.
Which airlines are striving for a better passenger experience?
I’ve personally flown over a half of a million miles on various airlines over the past few years. Within the last twelve months, I have been a passenger on more than a dozen carriers, some big, some small, both domestic and international. I have checked out what each airline has offered their passengers in coach and business classes, and sized up the competition. I have a lot of beefs with some of the major airlines, but what I’ve found in the process are three carriers concerned with the betterment of their passengers, and are setting the bar in customer service, flight performance, cabin comfort, and offering a wide range of amenities that make the difference for travelers, as well as taking in-flight comforts to the next level.
South African Airways
South African Airways is Africa’s most awarded airline, winning Best Airline Africa and Service Excellence Africa awards from Skytrax. Stellar in-flight service, and 15-hour direct flight times, the newly started JFK to Johannesburg nonstop both ways in May 2011, makes SAA the first to test this new nonstop route from the east coast to Africa.
Business Class seats lay completely flat with the most comfortable duvet blankets and down pillows among airlines, and each seat has its own entertainment system with movies, gaming, maps and educational programming.
SAA’s Business Class dining is newly improved, offering a selection of canapés with four main course options– a poultry, red meat, fish and non-meat dish, including an assortment of fresh breads, dessert, and South African cheeses, crackers and preserves, and the best in South African wine selections. Breakfast is similar with choices ranging from cereals to hot courses.
Seats have 60 inches of leg room and convert to 6-feet long beds with massage functions, power supplies at each seat
without a need for adapters, personal in-flight entertainment systems, a work table, and WIFI connectability while flying across the ocean via FlyNet satellite.
Foodies will appreciate the Star Chef program on certain flights out of Germany. Internationally renowned chefs create
meals on board. Not hungry when you wake? No to worry- Lufthansa now offers breakfast to go upon request.
Priority Member? Separate area check-ins and lounges with daybeds, bistros, an indoor Bavarian beer garden in Munich and a JetFriends Zone for children in Frankfurt.
Virgin America isn’t just for hipsters, it’s for those who want to travel to destinations in the U.S. with style. It’s also the entertainment and tech junkie’s airline of choice with a loyal celebrity following.
From ground to air, Virgin America is celebrated for unique amenities and concierge-like service. Definitely, a unique flying experience for passengers, and deemed by other media as an “airborne discotheque” and a “Multi-million Dollar Ipod. That Flies.” Always a trend setter, Virgin America became the first airline to offer guests GoGo in-flight internet on every flight. Innovating in-flight entertainment with RED, each passenger gets touch-screen personal seat back entertainment, power outlets at every seat, on demand food choices, mood-lighting and custom-designed leather seating with a deeper and more comfortable pitch.
And that’s just in coach!
First Class offers up white leather seats with lumbar massagers.
Air-mark Guide:**** Excellent ***** Over the top ****** Spectacul-Air