Fu­ture Per­fect

Pas­sen­gers shape the air travel ex­pe­ri­ence of to­mor­row

Business Traveler (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Lark Gould

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:

change ev­ery­thing?

in flight?

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

floor plan.

“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

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