Air China: Rich Culture, Timeless Elegance and a Tradition of Service

Image via Air China
Image via Air China

Air China’s new brand, as reflected in its new aircraft interiors and lounge is a delightful blend of cultural imagery and modern elegance, with a focus on service to ensure passenger comfort.

The unique prints and patterns of Air China’s decor feature elements of earth, sky and the Phoenix. They are inspired by iconography from the work of renown Chinese artist Mr. Han Meilin, who designed the airline’s logo 23 years ago.

“Air China’s new cabin interior decor is intended to expose passengers to Chinese cultural elements once they step into the cabin. The patterns, which depict three traditional Chinese cultural elements –beautiful clouds, pottery pieces and auspicious phoenix—blend in perfectly with the posh cabin environment. The cabin interior decor will add extra luster to travel and make passengers feel at home. It makes Chinese cultural elements very tangible and palpable – they can be read, felt, accessed and shared. It is a perfect expression of the traditional Chinese perception of a desired world in which sky, land and man are in perfect harmony. The underlying message is that ‘Air China flies between the sky and the land to meet passengers’ needs.’” – Air China

Air China credits a close collaboration between Mr. Han Meilin and Mr. James Park of JPA Design for a “design that balances Air China’s cultural heritage with a contemporary look and international appeal.”

“Mr. James Park, the founder of JPA Design, was personally involved in this project and had several meetings with Mr. Han at the design stage. Even though one is an artist from the East and the other a designer from the West, and both had to communicate through an interpreter, they formed a solid partnership right from the start. They respected each other’s professional opinions and built on each other’s area of expertise and this partnership was crucial for the success of the design.” – Air China

Air China flight crew. Image via Air China
Air China flight crew. Image via Air China

Beyond the structural and decorative elements, Air China treats passengers to a rich service tradition, intrinsic to its brand ethos.

“Passing down Chinese traditional virtues; treating customers in a way typical of a hospitable nation and offering friendly, thoughtful, meticulous and considerate services; being confident, kind, generous; becoming an influential organization that publicizes Chinese civilization and represents the nation.” – Air China

Air China has designed a unique travel experience, which builds anticipation of an exciting trip and extends warm memories of the journey on the return.

Elbow Wars are Over with Soarigami

Image via Soarigami

“It’s all about making the skies a little bit friendlier,” stresses Arthur Chang, co-founder of the not-yet-released product that has frequent flyers talking. Chang is the co-founder of Soarigami, a simple product set to end in-flight armrest battles. The lightweight device is placed on the armrest to evenly divide it, allowing passengers to share the space peacefully.

Chang, a hospitality consultant, developed the product with co-founder Grace Lee Chang, who brought a background in hospitality design and architecture. Both are frequent travelers and acknowledged the need for a device that would allow personal space while exercising common courtesy. After many attempts at a design that was comfortable and allowed both passengers an equal armrest share, the final design was inspired by a paper airplane, crafted in frustration from an unsuccessful sketch.

“It’s all about making the skies a little bit friendlier.”

Chang has tried the product on numerous flights himself and hasn’t had any problems introducing the concept to his in-flight neighbors. “The response is good!” he laughs before confirming he does not travel with a bodyguard when testing Soarigami. The first edition is plastic however there are plans for a leather luxury edition which would double as a travel wallet.

Image via Soarigami

Soarigami is not yet available for purchase, however due to the popularity of its catchy “Annoying Passenger Anthem,” written by the co-founders, pre-buy registration has begun. The product will be ready in early 2015 and costs about $30 USD.

The brand is fun with a strong focus on friendly travel. Their video highlights gripes of air travel we can all relate to, but their greater movement is to unfold savvier skies so passengers have the best in-flight experience. And Chang hopes to use his product to make the skies not only friendlier but cleaner. He is looking to partner with a green initiative that would help travelers offset carbon emissions.

Beyond Manga: JAL Rolls Out Adaptive AVANT IFEC System

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Japan Airlines Sky Manga. Image via Japan Airlines

Remember how the iPod changed how we listened to music? Look past portability: It was all about the shuffling. Radio stations began blurring their formats to include more popular music, offering an iPod-like experience over the airwaves.

Smartphones and tablets are doing the same thing to in-flight entertainment. The days of a single film shown way up at the front of the cabin may as well be written about in hieroglyphics, so far have we come. Today, IFEC designers must compete with − and take advantage of − passengers’ own devices.

Thales has rolled out AVANT, an IFEC system that uses two touchscreens for a deeper entertainment experience: an experience that includes shopping and ordering drinks as well as watching movies and playing games.

Thales’ IFEC system, TopSeries Avant

Aside from the touchscreen interface and smartphone-like secondary screen unit, AVANT offers the ability to evolve. Based on the Android operating system, airlines can adapt AVANT to create thrilling opportunities in terms of service and branding.

著しいです! | That’s Remarkable!

Japan Airlines is the first Asian carrier to use AVANT on a B787 Dreamliner, and they’re already putting their stamp on it by launching Sky Manga, the first of its kind in the world. Passengers will be able to read nearly 100 manga titles, a third of which are in English. Aside from presenting an iconic Japanese art form whose roots lie in 17th-century woodblock prints, Sky Manga speaks to passenger desire: according to an APEX Insights survey, nearly as many passengers read for pleasure as watch movies via IFE.

In a press release, vice-president and CEO of IFEC Dominique Giannoni said, “The launch of this new aircraft is a great milestone for all of us and we are confident that the quality, reliability and advanced technology of our systems will help Japan Airlines ensure their passengers continue to be satisfied by this airline’s exceptional level of service.”

Unleash Your Imagination

What would you do if you had a configurable IFEC system at your disposal? I’d create a digital postcard system for my notional airline: passengers could while away the cruising-altitude hours by writing missives to friends via branded e-postcards, which automatically send upon landing. Passengers solve the call-me-when-you-land problem, and airlines get a chance to reach people who aren’t even flying.

I’d also throw in networked printing. Those who actually use their laptops for work must still plug in at an office once they land if they need to print a document. A networked printer would be a great business-class feature. If only I could name my airline after myself: Air Jordan…

With configurable IFEC such as AVANT, you’re limited only by your imagination. You’re not just showing things, you’re making things: how exciting is that?

Major Airlines Celebrated Some Big Birthdays in 2014

Image via World Airline News
KLM celebrates 95 years. Image via World Airline News

Aviation is aging beautifully! In addition to the 100th anniversary of the first commercial flight taking place this year, 2014 saw some big milestones for a number of airlines. Over and above big cakes with lots of candles, we looked at how some airlines marked their birthdays.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, touted as the oldest airline, celebrated 95 years in October with a new “KLM 95 Years” logo on one of its MD-11 aircraft, as well as laying the first stone for a new KLM lounge at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

To celebrate 85 years, LAN Airlines treated passengers to an in-flight fashion show. Cabin crew modeled retro hostess uniforms from the 1950s onwards.

Delta Air Lines opened the Delta Flight Museum in Georgia to mark their 85th Anniversary of Passenger Service.

Hawaiian Airlines marked their 85th anniversary by distributing Wrigley’s gum, honoring a long-time tradition of assisting passengers with ear pressure.  South African Airways turned 80 this year, acknowledging various milestones throughout their history and announcing the addition of 20 new aircraft to their fleet.

Hawaiian Airlines celebrate 85 years with Wrigley’s gum

British Airways marked their 40th anniversary by releasing a list of top 40 trips to take before you’re 40, while Air Malta turned 40 with a ‘look back’ video. Virgin Atlantic’s 30th was celebrated by a new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner called ‘Birthday Girl’.

The industry has grown experientially since that initial single-passenger flight 100 years ago, with airlines now flying over three billion passengers per year.  Celebrations continue into the new year with more airlines achieving milestone anniversaries. In 2015:

  • Qantas: 95 years
  • American Airlines: 85 years
  • Air India: 85 years
  • TAP Portugal: 70 years
  • Thai Airways: 55 years
  • Air Canada: 50 years
  • Ryanair: 30 years
  • Emirates: 30 years
  • EasyJet: 20 years
  • JetBlue: 15 years
  • Virgin Blue/Virgin Australia: 15 years

All Nippon Airways Helps Passengers Take their Minds Off Takeoff

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Although many airline passengers enjoy the experience of flying, there are those who simply don’t. For those passengers, even the thought of having to get on a plane can induce anxiety, stress and even crippling fear. There are seminars and personalized programs for anxious passengers, and just last week, All Nippon Airways (ANA) introduced a smartphone app that might just help.

The new “ANA Takeoff Mode” is a simple puzzle game that’s accompanied by relaxing background music. Currently available through the Apple store, a player tilts their iPhone or iPad to maneuver a ball over a grid, rolling over game pieces to add or lose extra points and time credits. There are multiple levels to the game, each more challenging, with portions of the grid popping up to block the movement of the ball. While the game is being played, the app “listens” to the ambient noise in the cabin, and when the aircraft’s engines are at full throttle during takeoff, a special animation and message is displayed.

ANA developed the app after commissioning a 1,000 person survey, investigating passengers’ feelings about airline travel. The survey found that the most anxious flyers find takeoff to be the most stress-inducing part of the journey. Interestingly, passengers ranked puzzle games second only to listening to music as their preferred way to relax during a flight. With changes in rules now allowing the use of personal electronic devices during all phases of flight, ANA saw the development of the app as a way to enhance passengers’ in-flight experience. “Now we hope that the ‘ANA Takeoff Mode’ will ease and relax flyers, allowing them to enjoy their flight with ANA from the very beginning,” says Masaki Yokai, VP Marketing & Sales, The Americas.

Since its introduction last week, the app has had over 1,100 downloads. Development of the app began in September 2014, and an Android version is expected to be available in early 2015.

Purely in the name of journalistic research, Your Intrepid Reporter yesterday installed “ANA Takeoff Mode” on an iDevice. After a short test, the impression is the app is much like an electronic version of the old “Labyrinth” game, in which a ball on a tilting platform is maneuvered along a path by turning mechanically-linked knobs. It was remarkable how engrossing Takeoff Mode became, accompanied by the app’s soothing music track. However, although many patrons were talking loudly, the ambient sound in the testing location (neighborhood coffee shop) could not be increased to match the noise level of a pair of mighty GE90-115B engines powering a Boeing 777-300ER to takeoff speed, so the app’s special takeoff animation was not observed.