BA AI cocktail

BA trials AI-powered cocktail maker

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BA AI cocktail

British Airways is exclusively trialling an automated cocktail maker in its San Francisco and Newark lounges.

Created by mix-master Barsys using Artificial Intelligence (AI), the machine dispenses cocktails in under 45 seconds.

The service is available until March 2020, for the airline’s First and Club World customers who can choose from a selection of 30 cocktails and customisable drinks.

Customers simply order their drink by clicking one button on the app, then place a glass on the conveyer belt and let the AI do the work.

Ricardo Vidal, British Airways’ Head of Innovation, said: “We are always looking at innovative ways to enhance our customers’ journey on the ground and in the air. Barsys offers a new cocktail experience and what better way to trial this technology than in San Francisco, in our newly refurbished lounge, and Newark, two of the most cosmopolitan and tech-savvy metropolitan regions in the US”.

Akshet Tewari, Barsys CEO and Founder, said: “We are so excited to partner with British Airways as we have always felt that an airport lounge was the perfect place to create a unique and fun cocktail experience. We recognise that Barsys will never replace a good bartender but can free them up to make more complicated drinks and interact with customers.”

Hong Kong Airlines

Hong Kong Airlines to deploy IFEC suite with ..

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Hong Kong Airlines has selected AirCinema and Ka-band AERKOMM K++ in-flight entertainment and connectivity solutions from Aerkomm subsidiary Aircom Pacific.

The IFEC solution will be installed on the airlines’ fleet of five Airbus A330-300 aircraft and 12 A320s which will also be kitted out with AERKOMM AirCinema system.

The AERKOMM AirCinema system, which Aircom is designing and implementing specifically for Hong Kong Airlines, will introduce free high speed internet access to the seat back screens of Hong Kong Airlines’ Airbus A320 aircraft, connected via the Ka-band AERKOMM K++ IFEC system. Instead of the traditionally preloaded and fixed selection of in-flight entertainment, passengers will have access to high-speed internet steaming services for videos, music, live TV, and social media. Aircom and Hong Kong Airlines will work closely together to develop the AERKOMM AirCinema system, thus making Hong Kong Airlnes the launch customer for this innovative solution.

The AERKOMM K++ IFEC system will also provide passengers of Hong Kong Airlines with an “at home” network experience by giving free access to on-board Wi-Fi internet connectivity to all passenger personal devices, including laptops, mobile phones and tablets. The AERKOMM K++ system will be ready future-proof and compatible with the next generation of satellite technologies. This system will also provide passengers of Hong Kong Airlines with access to e-commerce amenities such as in-flight shopping and travel services.

Jeffrey Wun, CEO of Aerkomm, commented: “This agreement marks the next step in our partnership with Hong Kong Airlines, who will be the launch customer of our AERKOMM K++ IFEC sytem. In addition, this agreement, as the first application of our technology to a commercial passenger fleet, is a milestone in the commercialisation of our AERKOMM K++ IFEC system. We look forward to furthering our partnership with Hong Kong Airlines to implement our industry-leading technology.”

Immfly and Boeing HorizonX

Immfly receives strategic investment from Boe..

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Immfly and Boeing HorizonX

Boeing HorizonX has made a strategic investment in global in-flight digital services and entertainment (IFE) company, Immfly, becoming one of just four companies outside the US to join the Boeing HorizonX portfolio.

Immfly’s advanced digital solution enables airlines to efficiently and remotely manage onboard digital products and services on all aircraft types, including in-flight entertainment content, flight information, advertising and onboard sales. The Spanish company has a growing rooster of airline customers including easyJet, Ethiopian, Pegasus and Volotea.

“This investment will help further establish Immfly as the industry’s leading partner for pioneering cabin digitalisation and reinforce our ability to provide global services,” said Immfly Executive Chairman Jimmy Martinez von Korff. “Boeing and Immfly share a common vision to continue growing the digital capabilities provided to airlines to enhance their onboard experience and develop new revenue streams.”

“Boeing’s strategic investment in Immfly drives innovation across the entire passenger journey.” said Brian Schettler, senior managing director for Boeing HorizonX Ventures. “Immfly’s digital cabin solution is fundamentally changing how airlines around the world are engaging with their passengers during flight.”

Wheels Up and Delta combine

Delta Private Jets and Wheels Up to combine

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Delta Private Jets and private aviation brand Wheels Up are combining, following the close of a previously announced transaction and partnership agreement.

The agreement combines Delta Private Jets safety, service, reliability and scale with Wheels Up’ membership programme, digital platform and lifestyle experience – creating an owned and managed fleet of nearly 200 private aircraft.

Wheels Up Founder and CEO Kenny Dichter said the partnership will “democratize the industry” to make private flying accessible to more individuals and businesses. “By adding Delta Private Jets and partnering with Delta, our membership platform has evolved to one that can fulfil a vast range of flight needs on a very large scale.”

With the expanded fleet and access to Delta’s global network, Wheels Up said it is strategically positioned to fulfil the travel needs of its now 8,000+ members and customers.

Wheels Up and Delta will be communicating with customers in the weeks ahead to roll-out cross-platform partnership benefits and other programme features.

As part of the transaction, Delta’s Chief Operating Officer, Gil West, has joined the Wheels Up Board of Directors. He commented that the partnership “is opening up a whole new world of travel options to more travellers than ever before.”

Over the next year, Wheels Up and Delta will continue introducing cross-platform benefits and features, designed to add more value for members and customers.

The companies will work to ensure a smooth transition for employees, and DPJ employees will continue to operate out of their current location in Cincinnati.

Inflight entertainment

Gogo introduces DRM video-on-demand service

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Gogo is launching a new digital rights management (DRM) service that enables playback of video-on-demand content in the most popular browsers without additional plug-ins or app downloads, developed in partnership with castLabs.

The new solution allows each title to be packaged for browsers like Safari and Chrome in all operating systems with a single file using the latest file format in the industry – Common Media Application Format (CMAF).

The companies explained that the single encrypted file format allows for Gogo’s IFE service, Gogo Vision, to maximise an airline’s library size and store 50% more content than other solutions.

“Gogo is the first in the industry to launch a streaming solution that uses a single encrypted file format to play video across the most popular browsers,” said Blane Boynton, SVP of Product for Gogo. “castLabs is our technology enabler, and a well-known and trusted DRM vendor in the industry.”

Boynton added that removing the need for an app or plug-in would help provide “a seamless experience to our airline partners and their passengers.”

The roll-out of the new technology is planned to be complete in the first half of 2020.

“Gogo is leveraging our updated PRESTOplay and DRMtoday solutions that utilize the latest advances in streaming technology to deliver a single version of content to all modern browsers, agnostic to the various DRM systems they support,” said Michael Stattmann, Founder of castLabs. “Gogo is indeed the first to use the latest CMAF file format with ‘cbcs’ encryption to enable an app-free inflight entertainment experience on mobile devices.”

“We look forward to a strong partnership with Gogo as we support more streamlined ways to offer content to their customers.”

premiere digital logo

Premiere Digital acquires CMI Media Managemen..

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Premiere Digital, the Media Services, Distribution and Technology Solutions company has acquired CMI Media Management.

CMI is a preferred service provider to the IFE industry and handles Hollywood content shown in-flight.

Premiere Digital said the acquisition will allow the company to expand its reach to offer comprehensive media services to filmed content owners across all entertainment markets, augmenting its end-to-end media solutions.

Mark Lazar, CEO of Premiere Digital said the acquisition: “In combination with our services, technology and resources, will allow us to have a wider and deeper reach into new markets and offer an even broader spectrum of services to our clients.” 

CMI will remain focused on IFE from its headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut, while Premiere Digital will continue to consider further strategic acquisition and partnership opportunities – including in in-flight entertainment, it said.

“PDS’s capabilities, especially in the areas of digital streaming and delivery, will considerably strengthen CMI’s position as IFE continues to grow and technological innovation gains pace,” added Haitham Wahab of CMI. Wahab and Ken Wynne will continue to lead CMI.

Air France domestic biz class a

Air France launches Business Class on domesti..

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Air France domestic biz class a

Air France has launched a Business class service on its domestic network. With this move upmarket, Business class customers with a connection on a long, medium or short-haul flight to or from the French regions will now enjoy seamless Business class service at no extra cost throughout their trip.

Business customers can take two pieces of baggage weighing 32 kg each in the hold, as well as two carry-on bags and a cabin accessory for a total of 18 kg. In addition, they can choose their seat when they book their flight.

On short-haul flights, the catering service will include a savoury snack, sweet snack, a selection of beverages such as wines and champagnes from the Air France Business class wine cellar chosen by Paolo Basso, soft drinks and more.

On the Air France Play App, Air France’s digital entertainment offer, customers can download unlimited newspapers and magazines on their tablet and smartphone free of charge from 30 hours before departure, to enjoy before, during or after their trip.

They also benefit from Wi-Fi access with Air France Connect. By the end of the year, the entire Air France fleet, including its short-haul aircraft, will be equipped.

With Air France Connect, customers can access one of the three passes on offer:

  • A free “Message” pass for all, to send and receive messages during the entire flight;
  • A “Surf” pass, costing €3 on domestic flights, €5 on flights lasting less than 2 hours and €10 on flights lasting more than 2 hours, to surf the internet, consult and send emails;
  • A “Stream” pass, costing €10 on domestic flights, €15 on flights lasting less than 2 hours and €20 on flights lasting more than 2 hours, to enjoy high-speed internet access, streaming and downloading, including the “Message” and “Surf” passes.

Customers on board Air France short-haul flights benefit from a varied entertainment offer adapted to the flight time via Air France Connect, with movies, short films, TV series, live TV, music, press, games, audio books, TED Talks, documentaries, etc.

US DoT seeking to clarify definition of servi..

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The US Department of Transportation is seeking public comment on proposed amendments to its Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) regulation on the transportation of service animals by air.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Traveling by Air with Service Animals addresses concerns raised by individuals with disabilities, airlines, flight attendants, airports, other aviation transportation stakeholders, and other members of the public, regarding service animals on aircraft.

According to a missive, “The Department recognises the integral role that service animals play in the lives of many individuals with disabilities and wants to ensure that individuals with disabilities can continue using their service animals while also reducing the likelihood that passengers wishing to travel with their pets on aircraft will be able to falsely claim their pets are service animals.”

The NPRM proposes to:

  • Define a service animal as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability;
  • No longer consider an emotional support animal to be a service animal;
  • Consider a psychiatric service animal to be a service animal and require the same training and treatment of psychiatric service animals as other service animals;
  • Allow airlines to require forms developed by DOT attesting to a service animal’s good behavior, certifying the service animal’s good health, and if taking a long flight attesting that the service animal has the ability to either not relieve itself, or can relieve itself in a sanitary manner;
  • Allow airlines to require passengers with a disability who are traveling with a service animal to check-in at the airport one hour prior to the travel time required for the general public to ensure sufficient time to process the service animal documentation and observe the animal;
  • Require airlines to promptly check-in passengers with service animals who are subject to an advanced check-in process;
  • Allow airlines to limit the number of service animals traveling with a single passenger with a disability to two service animals;
  • Allow airlines to require a service animal to fit within its handler’s foot space on the aircraft;
  • Continue to allow airlines to require that service animals be harnessed, leashed, tethered, or otherwise under the control of its handler;
  • Continue to allow airlines to refuse transportation to service animals that exhibit aggressive behavior and that pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others; and
  • Continue to prohibit airlines from refusing to transport a service animal solely on the basis of breed.
Delta CarePod pet carrier

Delta improves travel for pets with new CareP..

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Delta Cargo has rolled-out the latest phase of its relationship with CarePod, with the introduction of the CarePod pet travel carrier.

After five years of research, development and testing and following a successful two-month trial, CarePod is to be exclusively offered at eight US locations: Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York (JFK and LaGuardia), San Francisco and West Palm Beach. There will then be a phased approach to roll out the CarePod pet travel carrier across Delta’s US network.

Innovative safety features include stronger, industrial strength walls, insulated to protect pets against potential temperature fluctuations when moving between different climates and travel conditions. There are also multi-layered windows and doors with specially angled blinds to help create a calming environment for pets by blocking out visual stress from unfamiliar environments, as well as a built-in hydration system capable of holding up to a litre of water that will auto replenish the spill-proof water bowl to ensure pets always have easy access to fresh water.

A powerful, enterprise level GPS tracking and monitoring system connects the pet’s journey directly to the specialised Delta Cargo Control Center. Owners are able to view their pet’s key travel updates throughout the entire journey via deltacargo.com.

“We’re thrilled that pet owners can now vacation and fly their pets with Delta’s best-in-class CarePod solution, having the peace of mind that their pets are protected in smart pet travel carriers, that are also digitally supervised by the Delta Cargo Control Center throughout the entire journey,” said Jenny Pan, founder and CEO of CarePod. “With the Delta partnership, we aim to raise the benchmark for pet air travel to allow families and pets to stay connected and travel safely together.”

Delta CarePod pet carrier
SWISS A340 Premium

SWISS completes Airbus A340 fleet refurbishme..

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SWISS’s cabin refurbishment programme of its Airbus A340 aircraft fleet has been completed with a new cabin and a new in-flight entertainment system. As a result, SWISS now offers its passengers internet connectivity on board throughout its long-haul fleet.

The five Airbus A340 aircraft have been equipped with the First, Business and Economy Class seats which already feature on its Boeing 777s, together with a new in-flight entertainment system that includes internet connectivity. Passengers also enjoy a new cabin lighting concept on the refurbished A340 fleet.

“With the completion of our Airbus A340 cabin refurbishment programme we are further underlining our quality commitment, and now offer all our customers the same premium air travel experience, including in-flight internet connectivity, on all our long-haul flights,” said SWISS Chief Commercial Officer Tamur Goudarzi Pour.