Tuesday, November 30, 2010
A white paper called Buy-on-Board: A Viable Alternative released this month by LSG Sky Chefs takes the reader almost immediately on a trip down memory lane and offers some interesting details from a period just before and after deregulation on both sides of the Atlantic.
The first example in the report took place with a charter airline called Court Line, later changed to Autair in 1963. The airline was based at Luton Airport. A little additional research shows that Court Air/Autair offered what was known at the time as “cheap and cheerful” package tours to Spain with a fleet of primarily L-1011s or BAC 1-11s. Starting in the 1970s, Autair also offered packaged meals for sale. They sold salads, sandwiches and that British favorite, manufactured in Minnesota – Spam.
According to a history of the airline, the meal or snack for the outbound journey would be in a top compartment and the meal for the return journey would be in the bottom compartment, both in the seatback. A supply of dry ice would be placed under a plastic food container. Passengers paid cabin crew to have the seatback containers unlocked for purchase.
A search around the Internet couldn’t yield a picture of the setup, so those who weren’t fortunate enough to sample the concept will have to use their imagination, like I am. But, thankfully, Spam is still being made, so a quick trip to just about any grocery store would at least help to complete that part of the experience.
No only did the system bring in additional revenue and spawn some copycats, but without the need for galley space, an additional three seats and, hopefully, an equivalent number of revenue passengers could be added to an Autair BAC 1-11.
Deregulation, first in the United States, and later in Europe expanded the realm of buy-on-board. The favorite of bedraggled backpacking students was People Express Airlines, founded in 1981, and operated for six years out of Newark International Airport. Nonstop service to London Gatwick on one of the airline’s 747-200s could be as low as US$149 each way. But People Express was strictly no-frills. Checked bags were US$3 and passengers could pay a few dollars for sodas, brownies and a snack pack of cheeses, crackers and salami.
Across the Atlantic, aggressive sales by airlines like easyJet and Ryannair in the 1990s began writing another chapter in the history of buy-on-board
In the past decade, the buy-on-board concepts have made their greatest evolution. Now, LSG estimates that buy-on-board sales worldwide generate more than 1.1 billion euro (US$1.4 billion) yearly. Sales models have been tried and abandoned. Several different types of partnerships have taken shape. New technologies are being used and airlines and passengers are coming to accept the practice and part with their hard-earned money. LSG Sky Chefs projects a buy-on-board spending increase of 12 percent by 2012.
We’d be interested your opinions on the future of buy on board. Where will the next innovations in buy-on-board service and products take shape? What regions are poised for further development? The LSG Sky Chefs report gives some interesting perspective on a concept that began decades ago with a simple meal of Spam.
Friday, November 26, 2010
During my relatively short time in the passenger services industry I have done a bit of travelling on a number of different airlines. Some take themselves rather seriously and when it comes time to market their brand, they are quick to point out qualities like dedication, class, superior service and tradition. These airlines tend to be established legacy carriers whose brand colors, slogans and values are quite ingrained into the psyche of seasoned travelers and first timer’s alike.
For the low-cost regional carrier, marketing efforts can go either way. While some may mimic the international legacy carriers, appealing to the passenger’s loyalty and perception of quality or tradition, others use humor, sexuality and even shock value to get our attention.The question now is… what works? I suppose that depends on who you ask. If you’re asking me, I’ll have to admit that I love a good laugh and a campaign that shows some wit or takes some risks is my preference. Does it mean that I’ll fly with that airline over another? That’s tough to say. I think that in the end the bottom line, is the bottom line. A good seat fare with the least amount of stop-over time will get usually get my pick. It never hurts to try though!
Friday, November 19, 2010
For as long as I’ve been an airline passenger I’ve been watching my fellow flyers order tomato juice.
The drink seemed more popular than it should be, probably because I’ve never liked the flavor and couldn’t understand why anyone else would. It addition, there was the color which I could never really get past as well.
But this morning, I recalled reading a story on inflight tomato juice consumption I ran across while traveling to this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg. I set it aside for possible research on a future story, and promptly misplaced it.
It was amazing how fast I was able to retrieve it with a couple Google searches.
As recently as last month, an update on the story showed up on this German website http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,6114748,00.html?maca=en-rss-en-all-1573-rdf.
For the past several months, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics, in Holzkirchen near Munich have been trying to figure out the same thing I’ve been wondering about and have been conducting research for Lufthansa German Airlines. It seems, Lufthansa serves approximately 1.7 million liters of tomato juice per year. This, from all indications is a bafflingly large desire for tomato juice.
But according to one researcher, passengers who don’t even like tomato juice when they’re not flying may like it in a pressurized aircraft cabin.
“So when they taste tomato juice on the ground and give it bad marks and if they do the same test under reduced pressure conditions they give the tomato better marks because tomato juice tastes better under low pressure conditions," said Florian Mayer the researcher’s team leader in a story written by Marianna Schroeder.
The tests cover more than just tomato juice. In a pressurized chamber on the ground, subjects are fed a variety of foods in airline environment conditions. The final tests will be done in December, but Lufthansa has already added more salt to bread rolls, based on what it has learned so far.
There will be more to discuss on this subject when Boeing’s 787 finally takes to the air in scheduled service. With the higher humidity that company is promising, food will have a different flavor profile.
And although the German study is interesting and intriguing, I’m not in the least bit tempted to test my taste for tomato juice inflight. Because even if the taste is more appealing, it doesn’t change the color.
- Rick Lundstrom
Monday, November 15, 2010
|Guests enjoyed coktails served up at the Bacardi reception|
The trade-show floor buzzed over the next wo days and I did my best to visit all the exhibitors. Most exhibitors hailed from Europe and this was the whole idea. This bi-annual European installment of MHA was created to make exhibiting a little easier for the hundreds of companies in Europe who work hard every day to get their products onboard.
|The dining area at the Cavas Cordorniu estate|
|Peter Tobler, MHA present adressed the gathering during breakfast|
Friday, November 12, 2010
Some years back, a press contingency I was part of toured facilities at Singapore Airlines. When we were led into an economy class cabin mockup, the editor of an air cargo magazine decided to needle the gathering a bit.
This is economy class, he said. Something you guys never see.
A la carte in economy class on KLM
I neglected to dig deeper to see which companies supplied the meal ingredients and the interesting packaging. Any readers out there who can fill me in would have my gratitude.
They would also have my gratitude if they could give me any tips to keep from spilling salad dressing on my shirt. Even with the innovations such as those on KLM, economy class is still economy class.
This week, PAX International is launching a new blog. During the course of the work week, staffers will be posting their thoughts and observations gleaned from the headlines and their own experiences to share with the thousands of readers of our e-newsletter and visitors to the website.
In the future, we plan to make our website more interactive for the industry we cover. Your feedback is always appreciated. Our goal is to provide you with an additional source as you seek to keep up with this rapidly changing segment of the travel industry.
So, stop by often and please share your thoughts as we move ahead with this new feature!