Delta operates Team-USA charter to Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022

Delta operates Team USA charter to Beijing Winter Olympics

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Delta operates Team-USA charter to Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022

Team USA’s official airline Delta’s flight to the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 took off on Thursday 27 January from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

The Airbus A350-900 flight, which Delta says was the carrier’s first ever Team USA-only charter, was tailored specifically for the US Olympians.

The airline had created a Team USA-themed, customised in-flight experience for the athletes which included personalised meals with input from Team USA nutritionists and a Team USA chef.

The meals, which featured local, fresh and seasonal high-protein ingredients, included dishes such as chicken cacciatore and herb-crusted salmon, charcuterie platters, Greek yogurt and dried fruits.

The on-board experience included the carrier’s new sustainable wellness-focused amenity kits, with each member of the in-flight crew wearing customised uniforms consisting of Team USA x Delta branded masks, shirts and aprons and the seat-back entertainment showcasing exclusive interviews, playlists and favourite Olympic and Paralympic moments from USA athletes.

Tim Mapes, Delta’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, said: “These athletes will be competing and representing the United States without family, friends or fans in the stands, so we’re determined to make this first Team USA-only charter an unforgettable experience – one where athletes feel as special during their journey as we feel proud watching them compete.

“Each team member reflects the resilience and perseverance we’ve all had to dig deep to find over the past two years, and that have long been the hallmark of Delta people worldwide. These shared values are why we’re especially proud to celebrate Team USA athletes on their journey to the world’s biggest sporting stage. For all of us at Delta, it’s a privilege to connect these athletes with their dreams.”

The carrier will fly Team USA Paralympians to the Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on 25 February from LAX.

SWISS has unveiled its new Premium Economy Class,

SWISS reveals new Premium Economy Class

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SWISS has unveiled its new Premium Economy Class,

SWISS has unveiled its new Premium Economy Class, as it seeks to strengthen its premium positioning in the growing leisure travel segment.

Premium Economy Class supplements its existing Economy, Business and First classes of travel from the fourth quarter of this year. SWISS Premium Economy Class travellers will enjoy greater privacy and enhanced in-flight comfort, a major contributor to which will be the newly developed fixed-backshell seat. Premium Economy customers will also be offered a wide range of in-flight cuisine, along with double the Economy Class registered baggage allowance and priority boarding. The new Premium Economy Class cabin will gradually be installed aboard all 12 of SWISS’s long-haul Boeing 777-300ERs from the fourth quarter of this year. The entire SWISS Boeing 777-300ER fleet will feature the new Premium Economy Class cabin by the start of the 2022 summer schedules.

“We are delighted that, in introducing our new Premium Economy Class, we are meeting our customers’ growing demand for more privacy, more comfort and more individuality,” said SWISS CEO Dieter Vranckx.

Each SWISS Boeing 777-300ER will be equipped with 24 latest-generation Premium Economy Class seats from seat manufacturer ZIM. The seat is simple to recline and integrated into a fixed backshell to ensure zero intrusion into the personal space of the passenger behind. The new seat is wider than an Economy Class seat: between 46 and 48 cm, compared to 43.4. Seat pitch has been extended from the 78.7 cm of Economy Class to 99 cm, which translates into substantially more legroom. The new Premium Economy Class seat further features a greater recline and is additionally equipped with a fold-out leg rest. The seat’s covers have been produced by Lantal of Bern, Switzerland.

SWISS Premium Economy travellers will be issued with a complimentary amenity kit that is specifically manufactured using sustainable materials. They will also receive their own high-quality noise-reducing headphones to complement the seat’s 15.6-inch in-flight entertainment monitor. Personal reading lamps will provide suitable lighting on night-flight services; and electronic devices can be charged using the seat’s in-built USB-A socket.

SWISS Chief Commercial Officer Tamur Goudarzi Pour states: “Our new Premium Economy Class is tailor-made for our previous Economy Class customers who are looking to enhance their air travel experience and enjoy the benefits associated with higher travel classes. In international comparison terms, our SWISS Premium Economy Class is very clearly positioned as a top travel product.”

SWISS’s in-flight cuisine has also been specially tailored to the new class of travel. Premium Economy travellers will be offered an elderberry welcome drink, and will be able to choose from three hot meals all served on china tableware. The selection includes a dish from the award-winning ‘SWISS Taste of Switzerland’ in-flight culinary programme, together with a vegetarian option supplied by Hiltl. “Our Premium Economy guests will be able to choose their in-flight meal according to their personal wishes and tastes,” CCO Goudarzi Pour explained. “And we’ll also be able to count on our long-standing partnership with Hiltl for our vegetarian offerings, for which we’re seeing an ever-growing demand.”

SWISS Premium Economy customers will be able to download two publications from the extensive eJournals portal onto their digital device free of charge ahead of their flight.

The new SWISS Premium Economy Class can also be experienced live and full-size in a 3D augmented reality model.

JetBlue's reimagined Mint suite, with Tuft & Needle bedding

JetBlue debuts new Mint Suite on A321neo

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JetBlue's reimagined Mint suite, with Tuft & Needle bedding

JetBlue and official design partner Acumen Design Associates have unveiled its A321neo business class cabin featuring the new Mint Suite and Mint Studio.

The first complete redesign of Mint will take flight on JetBlue’s London flights this summer, and a smaller 16-seat layout will debut on a limited number of flights between New York and Los Angeles later this year.

“Mint was an idea to make premium travel across the US less stuffy and more affordable, and its performance has exceeded even our most optimistic expectations of going beyond New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco,” said Joanna Geraghty, President and Chief Operating Officer, JetBlue. “It’s remarkable how Mint’s thoughtful design has resonated with customers as we successfully grew it to more than 30 routes. We put our heart into this redesign of Mint and were inspired by our original vision of offering customers an exceptional experience at a lower fare – which is what JetBlue is all about.”

Inspired by the popularity of the four private suites in its current Mint configuration, JetBlue’s transatlantic Mint offers more privacy with 24 individual suites, with an inward-facing herringbone layout offering direct aisle access and sliding privacy doors.

Mint Suite features “intelligently” placed charging points for laptops and smartphones, two headphone sockets, a dedicated phone/tablet holder, as well as a wireless charging zone. Acumen redesigned the suites to incorporate multiple large and easy-to-clean flat surfaces, to enable customers to eat, work and relax whilst simultaneously staying connected to their world.

Every available inch of space within the suite was used to provide dedicated stowage options including a laptop drawer, compartment for personal items, shoe and under-ottoman storage, and nightstand with a bottle holder. Acumen and JetBlue also developed customisable mood lighting which can be brightened or dimmed, as well as adjusted between “awake” and “relax” colour schemes, while each suite includes a tilting 17-inch Thales AVANT seatback screen IFE monitor which can be used gate-to-gate.

The inner walls of each Mint Suite feature a distinct, contemporary pattern inspired by JetBlue’s brand language, while the suite doors incorporate a bold, pressure-formed Mint pattern.

Daniel Clucas, Senior Designer at Acumen Design Associates said: “JetBlue has a long-standing reputation for being bold when it comes to innovation and putting its customers at the heart of its brand, which was key in enabling us to reimagine the single-aisle premium experience. By reclaiming the unused space at the front row, Mint Studio offers customers an enhanced flying experience – one which will quickly become the gold standard for narrow-body business class.”

With the new Mint cabin layout, Acumen identified an opportunity to reimagine the front row area, which is often used solely for additional cabin storage, and give this space back to the customer.

Each aircraft will have two Mint Studios in the first row, providing room to work or relax, and feature a 22-inch tilting Thales AVANT seatback screen, an extra side table for added productivity, and a guest seat that can accommodate an additional Mint customer during flight at cruising altitude. When the seat transitions into bed-mode, the sofa seat can also drop – extending the bed surface and giving the customer the largest lie-flat bed of any US carrier.

Mint Studio also features a sliding door for privacy, an integrated personal closet with a vanity mirror, a larger 22-inch pivoting IFE display.

Acumen redesigned the Thompson Aero Solo product and during the process invented the larger front row seats, which became Mint Studio. These modifications and customer enhancements are now a core part of Thompson Aero’s Solo platform seat product.

Engineered for comfort, every Mint seat is layered with Tuft & Needle’s proprietary T&N Adaptive foam and a breathable cover to create a cool and comfortable sleep experience unlike anything in the sky. The seat complements additional sleep amenities developed in partnership with the brand, including a convertible blanket with a built-in foot pocket, a memory foam lined pillow with a pillowcase, and a snooze kit with a matching eye mask and earplugs.

As part of their long-standing partnership, Acumen also worked closely with JetBlue to customise the entire onboard customer journey; from boarding the aircraft into the signature “welcome space” which features LED strip lights and striking graphics, to the new Mint Suites.

JetBlue’s latest version of Mint feature a residential-inspired design and custom-for-JetBlue touches throughout the cabin interior.

Residential textures, such as flannel-covered privacy dividers, concrete lampshades, woodgrain table patterns and soft, vegan leather-covered seats and headrests, make customers feel at home in the air.

Custom-created suite gradient panels bring light into the cabin, while patterned door shrouds with the signature Mint leaf make a bold brand statement in a functional way.

First-of-its-kind mood lighting enhances the in-flight experience, and a welcoming blue floor arc helps direct the customer boarding flow.

Mariya Stoyanova, Director of Product Development at JetBlue commented: “We are thrilled to have partnered with Acumen to completely reimagine the Mint cabin experience. Mint’s thoughtful design has resonated with so many customers over the years, and we are looking forward to bringing this next evolution of our award-winning premium product across the pond later this year.”

Editor’s Comment: Connectivity and Comfort

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In 2020, the dialogue around in-flight experience was dominated by the urgent need for safety and security. PPE, air filters, screens, the middle seat debate, new seating concepts… The question on all passengers’ lips was “Is it safe to fly?” and the industry found itself having to fight to get passengers back onboard rather than focus on refining their in-flight experience.

Despite the war against COVID-19 being far from over, 2021 has begun with a renewed focus on connectivity and comfort. This week, Delta Air Lines finalised a deal with high-speed Wi-Fi provider Viasat, evidence that the airline is still focused on securing “a future rooted in deepened customer interactions with technology” (Ekrem Dimbiloglu, Director of Brand Experience – In-flight Entertainment and Wi-Fi, Delta Air Lines). Adding Viasat’s next-generation satellite technology to its fleet will give Delta more options to modernise how customers stay connected and enjoy content in-flight.

Continuing with connectivity, via Bluebox Aviation Systems’ integration of W-IFE into the Airbus Open Software Platform, Airbus has taken another step towards realising its ambitious “Airbus Connected Experience”, whereby the Internet of Things will be brought into the aircraft cabin, paving the way for a new personalised passenger experience.

On the comfort side, Sichuan Airlines has selected Honeywell to fit its A320s out with auxiliary power units which provide electrical power and air conditioning whilst a plane is on the ground, ensuring that comfort becomes a part of a passenger’s experience as soon as they board the aircraft. Further, ASL Airlines Ireland’s ATR 72-600 is now flying with Liebherr-Aerospace’s new integrated air management system, which improves onboard comfort for both passengers and crew.

It is clear, then, that the in-flight industry is ready and determined to move on. Will 2021 be a year of recovery and resurgence? The commitment is there, but only time will tell.