The winners of the 2019 Inflight Middle East Awards have been announced, with Emirates reclaiming its title of ‘Inflight airline of the year’.
The annual awards celebrate outstanding contributions to passenger experience across the in-flight entertainment, connectivity and cabin technology domains.
With the airline recently launching its “Fly Better” brand promise, the past year has seen Emirates introduce product and service improvements onboard and on the ground.
Key highlights include the launch of fully-enclosed suites in first class, together with refreshed business class and economy class cabins on the 777-300ER aircraft; new, wider business class seats on the 777-200LR aircraft; and a refreshed version of the Onboard Lounge on the Emirates A380.
The introduction of Oman Air’s three-class Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner saw the carrier walk away with the coveted ‘Commercial airline cabin’ award.
The three-class Dreamliner features eight first class private suites, offering one of the longest 180-degree flat-bed seats available on any commercial airliner. The suite has 55-inch extra tall doors to ensure complete privacy. There are also 24 business class seats and 232 economy seats.
All classes feature ‘Aria’, a new state-of-the-art IFE designed exclusively for Oman Air featuring exclusively curated content. Judges commended the airline’s blend of Omani culture and heritage with bespoke luxury and an ongoing commitment to enhancing the passenger experience.
Saudia’s continual investment in its IFEC platform was recognised with the ‘Airline IFEC experience’ award. Judges praised the airline becoming the first in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia regions to introduce a complimentary social media messaging plan onboard flights, allowing free access to iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp.
Within four months of its introduction more than 500,000 guests had logged on and experienced the free Whatsapp plan.
Building upon its success in 2018, Inmarsat retained its crown for ‘Connectivity enablement’. In a first for the MENA region, Qatar Airways now offers Inmarsat’s GX Aviation on its Boeing 777 and Airbus A350 aircraft.
In the fiercely contested ‘IFE system provider’ category, Bluebox came out on top. Jazeera Airways – which launched Jazeera Screens on all flights, enabling passengers to enjoy watching movies and TV, play games, read about local destinations and track their route, all for free – marks the first Bluebox Wow deployment in the Middle East.
The ‘Content provision’ award went to Global Eagle, rewarding its ongoing investment in the region. The company’s locally based teams, recruited from the region, understand the tastes, trends and cultural sensitivities of each market. With a wide set of audio rights, airline customers can access a package of premium audio services from Arabic and regional music labels.
New to the Inflight Middle East Awards, the ‘Supplier innovation’ award went to TravelWell. The award honours the most revolutionary IFEC or cabin technology development over the past 12 months.
TravelWell, from Charlotte Dodson TV, is a personal lifestyle and wellness channel. Guided meditation, nutrition advice and exercises in video, audio, digital and virtual reality (VR) can be accessed through seatback screens, on passengers’ personal devices or by using SkyLights’ AlloSky VR headset. Thanks to PXCom’s end-to-end solution, XPLore by PXCom, TravelWell is also an ancillary revenue for airlines as it includes destination and sponsored content throughout the application.
Congratulations to all shortlisted finalists and winners at this year’s awards.
Winners by category
Inflight airline of the year:
Commercial airline cabin:
IFE system provider:
Airline IFEC experience: