Airplane Accommodations

The last thing we’re used to seeing as we board a plane is a “Welcome” mat. But if you haven’t already heard, KLM, the Dutch airlines, has teamed up with AirBnB to offer a stay in a parked plane in Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, where they’ve turned a former MD-11 plane into a temporary hotel they call the “Airplane Apartment.”

Guests were invited to request a free stay from November 28-30 through their website, which is part of a contest. Inside, there are no economy class seats – in fact, they boast 12 meters room for leg space. Everything’s been gutted to look like a private jet – but with an indie, urban twist. The master bedroom with a king-size bed has 1970s fur pillows, the living room is home to a velvet couch, there is a writing desk made from a former seat tray and of course they have Wi-Fi. Naturally, the airplane keeps some of its former furnishings – 116 windows and eight bathrooms.

They even have a library and you can watch planes on the runway in the “backyard.”

This approach is fun, but KLM are not the first to create an airplane hotel. Nearby, there is the Airplane Suite set in the Dutch town of Teuge, is a luxe suite for two (with a Jacuzzi) in a converted 1960 Ilyushin 18.  Down in Costa Rica, the Costa Verde Resort features a wood-paneled hotel suite in a 1965 red Boeing 727, parked in the midst of the leafy Manuel Antonio National Park. And the Plane Motel in Otorohanga, New Zealand is built in a 1950s Briston freighter, billed as one of the last allied planes to fly out of Vietnam. There are even airplane-inspired hotels with small windows and low ceilings. While it might seem like your fellow passenger is eager to get off your flight, who knows? They might just be excited to check into an airplane hotel.

APEX TEC Update: IFE Accessibility for Sensory-Impaired Passengers

Michael Childers, Technology Committee Chair & Board member, APEX

Michael Childers, APEX Technical Committee Chair and Board Member led the first session on day two of the APEX TEC conference in Newport Beach. In the first of two morning panels to discuss Technologies for Disabled Passengers, Childers was joined by Geoff Freed, director of Technical Projects and Web Media Standards, NCAM.

Earlier this month, Childers, APEX Executive Director Russ Lemieux, and Donna Danielewski, Director of the National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM), were invited to Washington DC to speak at the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Disability Forum. In a session dealing with Disability Issues in Air Transport, Childers, Lemieux and Danielewski reviewed APEX’s accomplishments regarding the implementation of closed captioning in in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems. The audience was comprised of representatives of the disabilities community, airlines, A4A and IATA and officials from the DOT.

Since 2006, when the technology was not yet available to integrate closed captions into IFE content, almost half of the installed IFE systems now support APEX’s 0403 closed captioning standard. Nearly all IFE systems currently being sold will support captions, and by Q1 2015, only IFE systems that support captions will be available on the market.

The APEX delegation explained how aircraft IFE systems differ from home consumer electronics, including televisions, which have been federally mandated to include caption decoding technology for over 20 years. The APEX team also outlined some of the technical obstacles the industry still faces, including mixed standards, varied production workflows, and the repurposing of caption data from other sources.

At APEX TEC, Childers noted that there’s still much work to be done by the APEX Closed Caption Working Group. The new challenges will be to identify and codify caption profiles and specifications, in order to further define the APEX closed captioning standard. Time is of the essence, since it’s expected that next year, the U.S. Department of Transportation will announce new rules involving closed captions, which may also include descriptive audio services for the blind and visually impaired.

NCAM’s Geoff Freed showed members examples of descriptive audio, with clips from the PBS series “Downton Abbey,” and FOX’s “The Simpsons.”  Using an extra audio channel, a narrator describes the important action that’s appearing on the screen, speaking only during breaks in the program’s dialogue.  Freed also demonstrated a screen reader, an app that allows a blind user to “hear” what buttons are being pressed on a touch screen.  Freed says that this kind of technology could be modified for an IFE user-interface system.  “You don’t have to reinvent anything,” he says.

Part two of the session was a panel moderated by Jonathan Norris, APEX Closed Caption Working Group Chair, with Andy Grant, Emirates; Éric Lauzon, Air Canada; Doug Mullen, Airlines for America: and Mark Smith, American Airlines. The panel reviewed the initiatives each of their organizations has made, and the challenges that are being faced in the implementation of accessibility for sensory-impaired passengers.

APEX Members can find additional information on closed captioning updates here.

APEX TEC: Taking the B2B Conversation to Twitter

Pages from APEX-TEC-Social-Media-presentation

Jessica Sammut, community manager, APEX Media and Ada Juristovski, program lead, 1:1 coaching at Hootsuite gave APEX TEC attendees a social rundown today on how they can take their B2B conversation to Twitter. This interactive session explored some of the misconceptions surrounding social media and introduced tools that can help members engage with colleagues and clients effectively on Twitter. 

The presentation is available for download here.

min 2014 Editorial & Design Awards: Most Improved Publication

APEX Media at the 2014 min Awards

APEX Media at the 2014 min Awards

The 2014 min Editorial & Design Awards, recognizing “excellence in content and design among consumer, business-to-business and specialized information media brands,” took place today at the Grand Hyatt in New York City with a celebratory awards breakfast attended by many of the print and digital industry’s most esteemed media organizations.

The Airline Passenger Experience Magazine (APEX Experience) was short-listed within the Most Improved Publication category, and took home an honorable mention award for Spafax’s new direction in design and editorial since taking over publication of the APEX association’s trade magazine in early 2014.

APEX Experience was represented by editor Terri Potratz and production manager Andréanne Lafond. Bonnie Sonnenschein, communications director for Kellen Communications – the management group for the APEX association - also attended the awards ceremony.

I’m thrilled that in just a few months, our international team has produced a publication that not only informs APEX members, but also earns the recognition of those outside our industry. -Al St. Germain, publisher, APEX Media

Allrecipes’ EiC Cheryl Brown delivered a keynote addressed that touched on how leveraged years of online dominance to expand the brand into print, and noted that a primary objective of the magazine was to continue to focus on Allrecipes’ community of members and contributors.

During the awards breakfast the 2014 Editorial & Design Hall of Famers were recognized: Nancy Gibbs, Managing Editor, Time Inc; John Korpics, Creative Director, ESPN Print and Digital Media; Anthony Licata, Editorial Director, Bonnier Men’s Group; Bob Mankoff, Cartoon Editor, The New Yorker; Bill Marr, Creative Director, National Geographic; Adam Moss, Editor-in-Chief, New York Magazine; Sam Viviano, Art Director, MAD; Fred Woodward, Design Director, GQ.

Winners in more than 30 categories – ranging from best Cover Design (B2B, Consumer or Illustration) to Photo Gallery, Editorial Print Profile to best Single Article (Print or Online), and everywhere in between – took home their celebrated awards. We were honored to be nominated alongside Lucky, National Journal and Time Out New York for the Most Improved Publication award, and we congratulate those teams on their accomplishments.


Boredom campaign keeps customers entertained

Cloudgazer.JPGThere’s nothing funny about being bored, especially being bored and on an airplane. So when Delta Air Lines launched their #Unbored campaign with the “Cloudgazer” game, marketing it as “the world’s most boring game,” customers saw the humor. The game invites players to explore a generic cloudy sky, similar to the view from an airplane window. The longer you play, the more bored you prove yourself to be. When players voluntarily end the game their level of boredom is rated. The game serves to promote awareness of Delta Studio, the new entertainment offerings available on Delta Airlines, and a solution to combatting on-board boredom.

Paul Skrbec, spokesperson for Delta Air Lines, explains that the campaign promotes the value of entertainment through encouraging the opposite. He tell us, “We are continually looking for ways to engage our customers. Our social media team came up with this idea of #unbored, using humor to highlight a seemingly negative element of flying customers are well aware of, to create awareness around Delta Studio in-flight entertainment.” Skrbec carried on saying the campaign is performing well and participation exceeded expectations.

We’ve seen numerous airlines using humor and irony to engage customers. As highlighted in a previous post Virgin America’s spoof airline BLAH Airlines directly addresses popular complaints travelers make about flying. This tongue-in-cheek campaign style serves two purposes, demonstrating the airline understands customer’s criticisms and using humor to engage and amuse. As proven with Delta, humor and sarcasm are effective ways to get customers to visit your page and spend time there, even if only to prove their boredom.

Where the #unbored campaign has a direct call to action, leading site visitors to the Delta website, BLAH airlines seems to be pure entertainment – aside from their almost six hour flight simulation video, which takes boredom to a new level. If you’ve got time to kill, airline tongue-in-cheek campaigns are excellent time wasters. You’ll also learn which spoof airline advertises a free cup with every coffee purchase.