Passengers shape the air travel experience of tomorrow
If you want to find out what George Jetson might experience on a crosscountry flight in the Digital Age, you have to go to Anaheim, CA, to get your answer. That’s where APEX, or Airline Passenger Experience Association, together with the International Flight Services Association, pulls together all the elements of the airline passenger experience for a pulsing three days in September at the 2014 APEX/ISFA Expo. It’s the place to peek into the future of flying while getting a handle on just how
While it is true that teacup seats and roiling tempers seem to be reaching a fever pitch in the skies, those incidents may be signaling the bottom of what passengers will tolerate. According to newsmakers at APEX, airlines are doing their best make up for it with an onslaught of new and positive tweaks coming down the aisle to enhance the passenger experience, from check-in to savvy seats to beaming in top entertainment.
The Expo is a targeted gathering of some 120 airline members getting together with around 250 purveyors of everything from the latest airline satellite technology to must-have avionics to the latest in Hollywood entertainment content.
The best of what’s best up in the air – those top experiences as selected by the passengers themselves – are honored
companies that made these experiences possible. Keynote addresses come from the likes of Edward Shapiro, partner and vice president of PAR Capital Management and longtime investor in airlines and airline services. Plenary sessions and workshops ensure it’s all about rolled up sleeves and
“Airlines are asking how can they make people happy through a different experience overall”
industry lingo. The air is thick with Geek Speak in these sessions. But it’s also heavy with insights into what keeps airline executives awake at night.
During these packed three days, everyone is alive to the possibilities – the breakthroughs that will be celebrated as the next up and coming thing for airlines and their passengers.
Among the hot topics for APEX Expo 2014 that peer into the future:
best work together with music labels and royalty agencies in light of recent changes to licensing processes?
from the Federal Communications Commission – and vice versa – given the rise of inflight connectivity?
What Do Passengers Want?
For those who fly frequently, APEX may contain many telling points of light illuminating what flying will be like in years to come, between the lines of policy and presentments playing out on the panel platforms.
“What we are excited about is we are starting to see a shift (in airlines and their approach to customers),”says Stephanie Perrone Goldstein, sales director, LRA Worldwide, a company that provides customer experience measurement services.“Airlines are asking how can they can make people happy through a different experience overall by engaging people and expanding the notion of what constitutes a positive customer experience every step of the way, from check-in to baggage.”
Goldstein will be speaking at APEX and discussing various cases that generate calls from the airlines, whether they are seeking more efficiencies in handling flight delays or even solutions toward avoiding the battles – which have noticeably broken out in past weeks – over economy cabin seating and personal space.
“As flyers have inconsistent experiences – and the hallmark of a brand is expectation and consistency – we have to ask, are the good experiences happening by accident? Are there things in place to drive a good experience and if so, why are these not happening more often? It’s an evolution, especially in the hospitality industry where the customer wants the‘wow’experience – but first we need to see delivery on the promised experience,”she adds.
The conference breaks out into four primary categories that effect the passenger experience: Comfort & Ambience, Entertainment & Connectivity: Content, Entertainment & Connectivity: Technology, and Catering & Services.
In this Digital Age, airlines are looking to create that‘wow’experience for passengers through boosting inflight entertainment (IFEs) and connectivity. But not surprisingly Comfort & Ambience still stands at the top of the list, as it is the seat that sits
It is no surprise that the airline seat is becoming smarter and more responsive
paramount when it comes to passenger comforts. And it is also no surprise that the airline seat is becoming smarter and more responsive.
The Digital Airline Seat
Patrick McEneany, director of creative consulting for BMW DesignworksUSA, is leading a breakout session on immersive technology in aviation design and he has much to say from his firm’s experience in the collaborative rollout of the Immersive Business Class Seat from Thales Avionics. The seat, showcased at the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2014 in Hamburg, presents such advanced technology innovations as touchpad controls integrated in the seat compartment, Ultra-High Definition (UHD) main display screen, Passenger Control Display, Eye Tracking and Interactive Virtual Landscape Panels.
Passengers will be able to interface their personal electronics devices (PEDs) with the IFE system, and Smart Device Ignition Wireless Charging. The seat will know their passenger by the connected PDA,
their social media profiles and identifies their preferences, such as favorite movies, preferred seat positions and food
preferences. It will have
system, a surround system and visual control system to select movies by simply eyeballing a screen. If a customer needs to look away to speak to the flight attendant, the player pauses and resumes when the passenger looks back; and it automatically pauses if it senses the passenger is asleep.
The vision-recognition technology will even be able to run quick health checks,
recommend fixes, such as medication or beverages. The seat can even give eyes a quick vision check and eyeglass prescription recommendation.
Although there is lots of interest, McEneany maintains the seat is probably five years away from deployment. His company did produce the First Class seat for Singapore Airlines 777-300 designed
“One of the things we find really interesting in working with suppliers and airlines as well as BMW is that those special comforts seen only in First Class are now seen in Business Class, so First Class really has to differentiate itself now. We
Above: Immersive Business Class Seat from Thales Avionics