Tag Archives: airlines

KLM to allow flight payments via Twitter and Facebook

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has announced a new service that allows customers to make seat reservations, book or rebook flights, request excess baggage tags, and pay for all of them using their Twitter or Facebook accounts.

KLM Twitter message

After making their request, customers will be sent a private message on Facebook or Twitter. Flyers can then select their preferred method of payment and complete the transaction. One of 130 dedicated social media service agents then send a confirmation of payment.

Agents field 35,000 queries on Facebook and Twitter from flyers around the world every week. And recently, the airline gained its 5 millionth Facebook fan making KLM the carrier with the most fans in the world.

Meanwhile, KLM also recognized the opportunities presented by professional networking site LinkedIn, when they launched a Meet & Seat program allowing flyers to share their LinkedIn and Facebook profiles with fellow passengers.

Virgin Atlantic Google Glass

Virgin Atlantic tests Google Glass at check-in

Virgin Atlantic has announced plans to become the world’s first airline to kit its staff with Google Glass.

Virgin Atlantic Google Glass

Virgin Atlantic business and first class passengers (Upper Class passengers, as they’re called in Britain) flying from London Heathrow airport will be greeted by employees wearing Google Glass or a Sony SmartWatch 2.

The wearable technology will be used to identify and greet passengers by name and provide the latest updates on their flight information, weather and local events at their destination.

Virgin Atlantic GoogleGlass

The airline also foresees potential for the technology to help deliver more personalized services such as identifying travelers’ food preferences.

Virgin Atlantic is testing the program in a six-week pilot project before considering a wider roll-out.

 

Gerard Depardieu

Gérard Depardieu opens private airline

French film star Gerard Depardieu has named his new airline Cyran R (pronounced “See-ran air”), a reference to the French literary great he played in the 1990 film “Cyrano de Bergerac.”

Gerard Depardieu

Last November, the actor founded a company enabling him to store his private jet and eventually rent it out to interested parties. The aircraft will be based at the Lesquin airport, outside of the French city of Lille, just across the Belgian border from Estaimpuis, where the actor currently lives.

According to newspaper reports the aircraft will serve to carry passengers as well as commercial cargo.

Depardieu has stepped away from acting in recent years, focusing instead on diversifying his sources of income. Tired of acting, as he told the French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche on January 5, Depardieu opened a commercial wine cellar last November in Estaimpuis.

At “La Cave à Gérard,” wine afficionados can buy wines that once belonged to the actor or to his famous acquaintances, including celebrity couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Depardieu also owns a bed and breakfast hotel in Estaimpuis, and he plans to open a gourmet restaurant in the neighboring city of Tournai before the end of 2014.

The actor is also investing in the real estate business following his acquisition of a stake in Cogimmo, a chain of real estate agencies; he plans to open several franchises in France and Belgium.

Air New Zealand

And the airline of the year 2014 is…

Air New Zealand has been named the top airline of 2014 by a safety and ratings review website which heaped unrestrained praise on the carrier for its in-flight services and safety performance.

Air New Zealand

Named the Airline of the Year for 2014, editors of AirlineRatings.com described the Kiwi carrier as an industry trendsetter, notably for programs like Skycouch which can transform three economy seats into a couch, ideal for couples or families with a young child.

Their specially designed Spaceseats, available in premium economy, also allow passengers traveling together to swivel their chairs and share a meal facing one another.

The design likewise prevents passengers from reclining their seats into the space of fellow travelers. Instead, the chairs slide forward like a reclining lounge chair.

In the online world, the carrier has endeared itself to digital consumers for its cheeky and entertaining in-flight safety videos. Last year, their Hobbit-inspired video “An Unexpected Briefing” featured orcs, hobbits, elves and dwarves and became an instant viral video hit.

The airline was then able to up the ante by recruiting the world’s favorite nonagenarian Betty White to star in a new video set in a retirement home, which was released this year.

Air New Zealand also nabbed the award for Best Premium Economy Class.

Other winners in the Airline Excellence Awards include:

Regional Airline of the Year: Singapore-based Silk Air
Best First Class: Emirates
Best Business Class: Cathay Pacific Airways
Best Economy: Qantas Airways
Best Lounges: Qantas
Best In-Flight Entertainment: Emirates
Best Long Haul Airline: Emirates (Middle East/Africa)
Singapore Airlines (Asia/Pacific)
Swiss (Europe)
Air Canada (The Americas).
Best Low Cost Airline: JetBlue (The Americas)
Jetstar Group (Asia/Pacific)
flydubai (Middle-East/Africa)
Norwegian (Europe)

Last week, AirlineRatings.com named Qantas the world’s safest airline.

WestJet christmas

Westjet Gives Airline Passengers Early Christmas

Christmas came early for over 250 passengers after Canadian airline WestJet provided them with their Christmas wishes this holiday season through a campaign they call “WestJet Christmas Miracle”.


For the stunt, 19 hidden cameras and a giant projection screen disguised as a gift-wrapped present were installed at the departure lounges of Toronto and Hamilton international airports in Ontario.

After scanning their boarding passes, passengers were put in touch with a live Santa who called out children by name and asked flyers what they wanted for Christmas.

As the passengers confided their heart’s desires, the WestJet team frantically jotted down the growing wish list and dashed to nearby retailers to make their wishes come true.

While passengers were in the air, the guerrilla elf team of 150 people were dispatched across retailers in Calgary buying toys, a snowboard, tablets, cameras, socks and underwear (a cheeky wish made by a flyer who may have suffered wisher’s remorse) and yes, a big-screen TV.

Gifts were frantically wrapped, complete with bows, tagged with the family’s names and rolled out on the baggage carousel to the happy shock and awe of unsuspecting flyers.

Needless to say, there were tears, incredulous laughter, hugs, a few fist pumps, and a few rhymes, a la “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

Hiroki Yoshitake

Hiroki Yoshitake’s cuisine coming to Japan Airlines

Hiroki Yoshitake

In their quest to bring exclusive high-end services to first and business class passengers, international airlines are pairing with chefs to offer enticing in-flight meals.

For the latest of these partnerships, Japan Airlines is featuring the cuisine of Hiroki Yoshitake, the Japanese chef at Sola, an acclaimed restaurant in Paris. A native of Kyushu, Yoshitake opened his Franco Japanese restaurant Sola in Paris in 2010. By 2012, he had earned his first Michelin star.

Sola restaurant Paris

Starting this December and through February 2014, business and first class passengers on the airline’s flights from Paris will enjoy unique dishes created by Hiroki Yoshitake: smoked scallops and mashed porcini mushrooms, king crab chawanmushi (savory custard made with fish stock), lobster dumplings, chanterelle mushrooms and arugula salad, or Charolais beef filet with sauces made from sansho (Japanese peppercorns), fennel or yuzumiso (miso made with the Japanese yuzu citrus fruit).

Charolais Beef Fillet

Passengers will finish the meal on a sweet note with a variation on classic Black Forest cake revisited by master chocolatier Jean-Paul Hévin.

Lobster Ravioli

To ensure the presentation is as refined as the meal, certain dishes will be presented in traditional Japanese Arita Yaki porcelain, in shapes designed specifically to fit on the standard airline serving tray.

Hors d'oeuvre JAL

Hiroki Yoshitake’s cuisine will return to Japan Airline flights in a new menu from June to August 2014. In the meantime, the airline will serve gourmet meals created by Shinichi Sato, another Japanese chef living in Paris, whose restaurant Passage 53 has earned two Michelin stars.

Bruges style shrimp

Brussels Airlines hires Michelin-starred chef

Belgian dishes

Starting next week, passengers on the Belgian airline will be able to savor a meal created by one of the top names in contemporary Belgian gastronomy: triple Michelin-starred chef Geert Van Hecke.

The chef, who has presided over his Bruges restaurant De Karmeliet for over 30 years, has prepared a starter with smoked Damme eel, tarragon yogurt sauce and mashed fennel.

Cheese

This first course will be followed by a dish of “Bruge-style shrimp,” curried sweet potatoes and steamed snow peas. Flemish beer and cheese will accompany the meal.

This menu will be offered to business class passengers on long-haul flights leaving from Brussels for destinations in Africa or the US.

Bruges style shrimp

The collaboration with Geert Van Hecke is the first in a series of tie-ups in Brussels Airlines’ “Belgian Star Chefs” initiative. Every four to five months, the company will invite a different celebrity chef to renew its business class menu with gourmet dishes based on seasonal, regional ingredients.

Geert Van Hecke

hellokitty eva air

Hello Kitty jet flies into Los Angeles

EVA air plane Hello Kitty

The most famous cat in the world will be making its maiden voyage into the US this month, when Taiwanese airline Eva Air sends its first Hello Kitty-emblazoned jet into Los Angeles.

After accompanying passengers on Asian routes to Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, China and Guam for years, the cartoon kitten that has become fetishized for generations the world over will make her first North American journey later this month on a B777-300.

Three times a week, passengers traveling between Taipei and Los Angeles will fly on a Hello Kitty jumbo jet, where everything — and we mean everything — is emblazoned with the remarkably simple but iconic image: a bow-tied, three-whiskered, mouth-less white cat.

If the American Hello Kitty experience is anything like the program in Asia, it’s not for the faint of heart or cute-averse, as the journey starts at the check-in counter where passengers are given baggage tags and boarding passes stamped in her image.

Planes are similarly kitted out with Hello Kitty-themed seats, soap and toilet paper. Should you suddenly feel nauseous or OD on the cutesy motif, you’ll be looking straight into the bottom of a Hello Kitty sick bag. Need something to cut the nausea? Tuck into your bag of Hello Kitty mixed nuts or rice cakes or take a sip of water from your Hello Kitty cup.

Currently Eva Air flies five Hello Kitty-themed A330 aircraft including Magic, Apples, Music, Around the World and Speed Puff within Asia. The flights into LA start September 18.

hello kitty air jet

Etihad flights to have Flying Nannies

Etihad Airways flying nanny

Passengers traveling Etihad Airways will have a fleet of Mary Poppins at their disposal to calm irritable children — and irritated passengers.

The UAE-based carrier announced the launch of their new Flying Nanny service this week, an in-flight nursery that will be staffed by flight attendant nannies trained out of Norland in England, a childcare nursing college that churns out real-life Mary Poppins — minus, perhaps, the rum punch medicine.

Identifiable by their orange aprons, the nannies will be available on long-haul flights to entertain antsy, bored children with crafts like hand puppets, origami, art activities, face painting, and games.

They’ll also be on hand to help put overtired children to bed and provide advice and support on how to manage children during long flights for jetlagged parents.

Nanny flight attendants will be armed with goodie bags filled with games and stickers and will be available for unaccompanied minors and young children.

Lest you think, however, that you can pawn your child off to the flight attendant for the entire flight, the site adds a sly disclaimer saying, “… we can’t take them off your hands completely,  as we must cater to the needs of every family onboard…”

The news posted September 1 on Facebook, meanwhile, received enthusiastic reception as it’s been liked more than 3,540 times and shared 670 times as of September 3.

The new service follows on the heels of budget Singaporean airline Scoot and Air Asia X in Malaysia recent launch of child-free cabins.

Etihad Airways flying nannies

Emirates Airbus A380 bar

Emirates offers ‘Street View’ of A380 aircraft

Emirates Airbus A380 bar

Dubai-based airline Emirates has partnered with global search engine Google to launch the world’s first ‘Street View’ of the double decker A380, the world’s largest commercial jet aircraft.

‘Street View’ is a technology featured in Google apps and Google Earth that provides panoramic views from positions along many streets in the world.

“Users can explore online the Emirates A380’s luxurious first class private suites, expansive business class cabin, on-board lounges, shower spas, cockpit and more on ‘Street View’ now.”

The airbus, with a wingspan of 79.8 metres, is known as the world’s most-fuel efficient jet in its class. It can carry 517 passengers and stream across 15,000km in a single journey.

Click this link to Google Maps and then click on the image of the plane, at the left of the screen.

Express Meals menu

Shake Shack creator teams up with Delta for new menu

 Express Meals menu

Delta Air Lines has tapped the restaurateur behind cult burger brand Shake Shack and New York dining destination Union Square Cafe to create a special express in-flight menu for business class passengers.

The US carrier has teamed up with Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group to develop a new menu that will deliver an abbreviated version of its business class service for flyers who prefer relaxing and sleeping on flights between New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport and London.

The new Express Meals menu will be developed by chefs at the USHG’s Blue Smoke restaurant, who will also create a signature cocktail for the in-flight dining program. The program debuts next February.

Delta has worked with popular US chefs like Michael Chiarello and Michelle Bernstein to develop previous menus. This past spring, Meyer also opened his first airport outposts of Shake Shack and Blue Smoke on the Road at Delta’s new JFK Terminal 4.

Plane

The greenest airlines in the world

United Airlines Eco Skies

Want to fly with a green conscience? Fly United Airlines, airberlin, Qantas or Air Canada.

Because according to the 2013 Eco-Aviation Awards hosted by Air Transport World, these are the greenest airlines in the world, whether it be for building a fuel-efficient fleet, making concerted efforts to reduce fuel burn or exploring sustainable fuels.

At the top of the heap is US carrier United Airlines, which took the top prize as the Gold Eco-Airline of the Year for its “realistic and practical approach to environmental action,” said magazine editors.

Last year, the airline saved 83 million gallons of fuel by replacing its fleet with more fuel-efficient aircraft, thereby reducing its carbon emissions by 811,000 metric tons.

It’s also on track to meets its 2013 goal of reducing fuel usage by 85 million gallons and associated carbon emissions by nearly 828,800 metric tons.

Editors likewise lauded the carrier for spearheading talks on sustainable biofuel initiatives: United undertook the first US commercial flight powered by advanced biofuel in 2011.

And since 2008, the airline has recycled more than 23.5 million pounds of aluminum cans, paper and plastic items from flights and other facilities.

Airberlin, meanwhile, took the silver award for being the first European network carrier to decrease fuel burn per 100 revenue passenger kilometer (RPK) to 3.4 liters, resulting in the reduction of total CO2 emissions by more than 100,000 tons.

Australian carrier Qantas took home the Eco-Pioneer of the Year award, for being an industry leader in exploring sustainable fuels long before the term “eco-aviation” became known, editors said.

And a partnership between Air Canada and Airbus was also recognized for an initiative made last year in which strategies like best practices, optimized operations, air traffic management, and alternative fuels helped slash CO2 emissions by more than 40 percent on a flight between Toronto and Mexico.

Meanwhile, want to feel less guilty about your flight? Several airlines such as Qantas, United, easyJet and Cathay Pacific, as well as airports in Manchester, Stockholm and SF offer carbon offset programs that allow you to make a donation towards an environmental program to render your trip “carbon neutral.”

Emirates Launches Luxury Private Jet Service

Emirates Executive lounge area

Emirates has launched a private jet service promising “unsurpassed luxury” for well-heeled travellers.

The specs are impressive and nothing less than what would be expected of a service created to cater to the world’s obscenely wealthy. The reconfigured Airbus A319 includes, for instance, 10 private suites that slide fully shut, fully lie-flat beds and 32-inch flat screen TVs.

Emirates Executive Private Suites

A large shower and spa features heated floors, marble accents, all-natural skincare products and luxury toiletries from Bulgari.

Emirates Executive shower spa

The main salon can likewise be configured to guests’ needs, be it as a business center for videoconferencing and high-powered meetings, or as a comfortable living space courtesy of the mechanically-activated table, two 42-inch LCD screens, and two sofas.

Emirates Executive lounge

Other amenities include 1,500 channels of on-demand entertainment, high-speed internet and mobile phone connectivity, and an in-flight menu that offers guests a fine dining experience at up to 35,000 feet in the air.

Emirates Executive dining area

The luxury jet can accommodate up to 19 guests. The private charter service flies to most locations worldwide, and extends beyond the carrier’s network.

Emirates luxury private jet service

The launch of a private jet service comes in response to increasing demand from markets in the Middle East, Europe, India, Russia and China, says the carrier.

Airbus A319 aircraft

Etihad first class meal

6 Airlines With Celebrity Chefs Onboard

Etihad Airway First Class Chef

If you’re getting ready for a long-haul flight to your vacation destination, you may not be looking forward to the on-board meal. Between soggy sandwiches and microwaved chicken cutlets, airplane food often leaves a lot to be desired. But there are exceptions: these airlines have called upon master chefs for in-flight cuisine that’s a cut above the rest.

Etihad Airways

The UAE airline took home the honors for “Best First Class Meals” in the 2013 Skytrax World Airline Awards. Over the past two years, Etihad has recruited chefs from the world’s top restaurants. On board for select international flights, master chefs offer gourmet fare rivaling that of fine dining restaurants.

Fresh and organic ingredients take center stage. The eggs and honey used in the kitchen, for example, come straight from an organic farm in Abu Dhabi.

Air France

For its business class, Air France calls upon a new master chef every eight months to create gourmet fare for its long-haul flights from Paris. Through October 2013, travelers can enjoy the cuisine of Michel Roth, chef at “L’Espadon,” the restaurant of the Ritz in Paris. In first class, the menus are created by Michelin-starred chefs including Joël Robuchon and Guy Martin.

Qatar Airways

Last year, Qatar Airways recruited a gourmet all-star team to create a transnational menu. Starred chefs Nobu Matsuhisa (Japan) and Tom Aikens (United Kingdom), as well as Lebanese chef Ramzi Choueiri and  Indian chef Vineet Bathia have created dishes inspired by their home countries.

The cuisine has been prepared with two particular challenges in mind: limited preparation methods available and the possibility of an altered sense of taste in high altitudes. This globe-trotting gastronomy can be found in first and business class on international flights.

Lufthansa

The German airline’s first class service also includes a high-end culinary experience. On long-haul flights from German cities, master chefs take turns offering well-crafted and creative menus. This summer, Joachim Wissler, who holds three Michelin stars and was voted “Chef of Chefs” by his German colleagues, offers among other delicacies a green pea mousse with mozzarella and tomato basil sauce.

Flights to Germany also feature the cuisine of gourmet chefs, chosen from the best restaurants in the countries of departure. Next October and November, for example, passengers will savor the creations of French chef Marc Haeberlin of L’Auberge de l’Ill in the Alsace region.

Singapore Airlines

For several years now, the Singaporean airline has relied on a panel of nine internationally renowned chefs for its in-flight meals. The dishes served in premium and business class were created by French chef George Blanc, whose restaurant in Vonnas holds three Michelin stars, Italian chef Carlo Craco (two Michelin stars) and Alfred Portale of New York.

Delta Air Lines

Delta recently announced that it was giving its in-flight menu a TV twist, by creating a competitive culinary show that will see four top US chefs — Hugh Acheson, Linton Hopkins, Kelly English, and George Mendes — go up against one another for the prize of developing the dish ideas for passengers.

Chefs compete to join Delta’s culinary team

Meal by Michael Chiarello

Delta Air Lines is launching its own version of “Top Chef” with a competitive culinary show that will be aired in-flight and award the winner the chance to help create the carrier’s menu.

In partnership with Food & Wine magazine, the US carrier has announced plans to produce an original video series called “The Cabin Pressure Cook Off: The Search for the Next Delta Chef,” which will pit four award-winning chefs against each other.

The collaboration is meant to help mark the 25th anniversary of the publication’s Best New Chefs awards. All four contenders — Hugh Acheson, Linton Hopkins, Kelly English, and George Mendes — are past recipients of the award.

Acheson helms Empire State South in Atlanta; Hopkins comes from Restaurant Eugene also in Atlanta; English helms Restaurant Iris in St. Louis and Mendes is chef of Aldea in New York.

The new chef will work alongside Delta’s culinary team to develop the new in-flight menu. The original series will be modeled after cooking show competitions, presenting chefs with culinary challenges which will be judged by the carrier’s cooking team —  celebrity chef Michael Chiarello, Michelle Bernstein and sommelier Andrea Robinson —  in addition to Food and Wine publisher Christina Grdovic.

The series will launch in October, airing on the carrier’s in-flight entertainment system, as well as on delta.com and foodandwine.com.

Madrid Barajas Airport

Iberia Launches Print-at-Home Bag Tagging Service

Madrid Barajas Airport

Passengers flying with Spanish carrier Iberia will now be able to download and print their own luggage tags at home before catching their flight, a new measure designed to shave time during the check-in process and improve overall punctuality.

Billed as a world first, Iberia has launched MyBagTag on domestic flights with plans to extend the service to European and international destinations throughout the year.

After printing the bag tag, the paper is meant to be folded into quarters and inserted into plastic envelopes which can be picked up at any  Spanish airport. Bags can then be taken to the baggage drop-off counters.

The new move follows on the heels of British Airways which launched an electronic bag tag this month, likewise in an effort to shave off precious time for flyers and speed up the check-in process.

Passengers flying with the flagship British carrier will no longer be issued paper bag tags but instead hold their smartphone over the electronic tag which will automatically provide a unique barcode containing flight details and an “easy-to-see” view of their bag’s destination.

iberiatag

Singapore Airlines Business Class seats

Singapore Airlines unveils new cabins

Singapore Airlines Business Class seats

Singapore Airlines (SIA) on Tuesday unveiled new seats and other in-flight amenities in all classes as part of a sweeping upgrade of its cabins in an attempt to stay competitive.

Passengers on selected flights between Singapore and London will be the first to experience the improved seats and entertainment system, wider TV screens and other improvements.

SIA said it will spend nearly $150 million on improved cabin amenities on an initial eight Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. The airline is battling strong competition from Asian and Middle Eastern carriers, and on the economy side from budget airlines, which have grown in number in Asia.

Singapore Airlines First Class experience

Like other airlines its net profit has been hurt by the sluggish global economy, which has hit both passenger and cargo demand, as well as high oil prices.

“The investment programme will be extended as the new products are introduced on Airbus A350 aircraft scheduled for delivery in the years ahead,” the airline said.

The airline said it worked with top global design firms to give passengers more comfort and luxury, including longer and more luxurious beds in first class and additional personal space in economy.

Singapore Airlines First Class bed

Virgin Australia introduces loyalty program for pets

Cathay Pacific 747-8f air to air

Virgin Australia has become the latest airline to introduce a scheme that rewards pet lovers for taking their animals on holiday with them.

That means that much-loved family pooches and feline companions who travel with their owners will earn 300 points on the carrier’s Velocity Frequent Flyer program.

The pet loyalty program is the first of its kind in Australia. The airline says it flies about 30,000 pets around the country a year. Points can only be accrued for accompanied pets.

Velocity Frequent Flyer has also launched a ‘cutest baby’ competition in a nationwide search to find an official pet ambassador for the program. Australians are invited to enter their dog or cat in the contest via Facebook. The winner will star in Velocity marketing campaigns and receive a pet gift pack.

dog with suitcase

KLM Aviation Empire

KLM plans airline game

KLM Aviation Empire

Along with phone bills, traffic and the weather, airlines likewise rank high on the ‘favorite things to complain about’ list. Now Dutch carrier KLM is handing over the reins to consumers who think they can do a better job of managing an airline in a new 3D video game for mobile devices.

After a beta test earlier this year, KLM will launch tomorrow Aviation Empire, a simulation game in which the mission is to run a successful and profitable airline.

Players can add strategic destinations, build a fleet, invest in airplanes and upgrade airports according to the technologies available at the time.

The game starts in 1919 — the year KLM was founded —  challenging players to grow the business as pioneering entrepreneurs and see it through periodically turbulent times in aviation history.

Players can sign up to be among the first to receive a notice when the game — which is available on both iOS and Android — goes live. The KLM game is based on the same principle as “Airline Simulation” for PC, which likewise allows players to run their own airline.

Likewise, in 2011 the Marriott hotel chain launched a Facebook game which allows fans to run their own virtual hotel in a bid to attract new staff for its properties.

Cathay Pacific Airways best cabin crew

The best flight attendants are from Asia

Cathay Pacific Airways best cabin crew

The friendliest, most helpful and efficient flight attendants in the world are predominantly found on Asian airlines. That’s according to flyers across 160 countries who completed 18 million customer satisfaction surveys which asked respondents to rate their favorite airline cabin crew.

Topping Skytrax World Airline Awards category of best cabin staff: Hong Kong’s flagship carrier Cathay Pacific, which took the No.1 spot from flight attendants of Malaysia Airlines who won the title last year.

Meanwhile, of the top 10 airlines boasting the best cabin crew, eight are from Asia.

Winners were announced at the Paris Air Show this week.

1. Cathay Pacific Airways
2. Asiana Airlines
3. Malaysia Airlines
4. EVA Air
5. Singapore Airlines
6. ANA All Nippon Airways
7. Garuda Indonesia
8. Qatar Airways
9. Hainan Airlines
10. Thai Airways