Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Where to find a good barista

Juarte Skarzauksaite pours for
 judges at last year's WBC.

Readers of PAX International are a traveling lot, and while they are on the move they may need a place to find a good cup of coffee.

SSP this week announced the finalists in their yearly Caffè Ritazza World Barista Championships. Seven out of the nine finalists can be found working in airports from Liverpool to Bangkok.

The nine will have a chance to show their expertise and original creations at company’s yearly competition September 21 at the historic Dickens Inn at St. Katherine’s Docks in London.

At the event, the baristas will be preparing four espressos and four cappuccinos and a signature drink of their own. A tropical mixture by barista Juarte Skarzauksaite at SSP’s Caffè Ritazza at East Midlands Airport was the winner.

“This contest gives the very best of these the opportunity to showcase their craft and compare their performance with the international stars of coffee making,” said Stuart Coombes, international franchise director for Caffè Ritazza.

So where are these stars? Here are the finalists:

·      Marta Twardygrosz from Liverpool Airport, United Kingdom
·      Zaidabi Nakhoul from Dublin Airport
·      Anne Marie Sacksteder from Longeville Services, France
·      Kristsada Kwannaogen from Copenhagen Airport
·      Kajsa Bysell from Stockholm Central Station
·      Christian Roman from Paphos Airport, Cyprus
·      Thomas Pettersson from Oslo Airport
·      Kittipong Chaiyapim from Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok
·      Ashfaq Ahmed from Zurich Airport

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Global Business Travel

A recently released survey by the Global Business Travel Association on the preferences of premium travelers is getting some attention in the news

We alluded to a portion of it in our August 23 newsletter. In it, we see that  travelers are most likely to seek out airlines with the latest in high-tech connectivity and entertainment.  Survey reveals that more than half, 51 percent see inflight wireless Internet as an important feature in business travel and 48 percent value power to the seat. The use of mobile phones for voice and text messaging did not rank as high in importance. 

The GBTA surveyed 1,650 long-haul premium travelers and found distinctly different motivations and approaches to travel among the business travelers in Asia. The survey found them more prone to value high tech perks and food and beverage service. They are also more than four times more likely to use social media when planning a business trip. Only about 10 percent of travelers in the United States will access social media. Asian travelers are also among the most likely to increase their premium travel -- at 42 percent -- in the next 12 months. 

“As we’ve seen the travel industry slowly recover after the Great Recession, the comeback in premium class has been driven primarily by business travel,” said Joe Bates, director of Research, GBTA Foundation. “This study provides a valuable perspective on the profile of the premium traveler and offers insight into the role of corporate travel policy in facilitating effective premium travel.  It is vital for both travel suppliers and travel managers to become better informed about the premium traveler, especially as these travelers have become increasingly important to business travel growth overall.”


AME Info, an excellent source for news from the Middle East is reporting on the good will activities of Gulf Air during the holy period of Ramadan. 

Volunteers from the airline are distributing Iftar snack boxes to several mosques in Manama. The airline sourced the dates and eatables from women's charities in the city as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility program. 

"The real essence of Ramadan is giving and sharing; expressing this spirit is the feedingof others, which is one of the religious traditions of Ramadan," said Gulf Air CEO Samer Majali. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Drinking it in

During this sizzling hot U.S. summer it doesn't take much -- just a lot of humidity -- for a person's thoughts to turn to something cold and refreshing. 

The Food Channel has been following drinks trends. And while surveyors on the television network admittedly did not turn up many surprises, more than a few of our airline readers and their suppliers already know that people are more interested in plain old water than they have been in recent memory.

"Of those who said their beverage habits had changed in the past six months the most frequently mentioned change was “drinking more water.” Seems like a healthy trend." said the story. 

Here's a list of some of the popular drink trends, courtesy of The Food Channel. 

1.  D.I.Y. Flavor— Many of us are taking flavor matters into our own hands.
2.  Parental Discretion Advised— We’re still seeing lots of buzz around beverages and kids.
3.  Iced Coffee Is Scalding Hot— Consumption of this cold caffeinated beverage has heated up.
4.  For Medicinal Purposes Only— There’s certainly no shortage of ways to “drink to your health.”  
5.  Sipping Seasonally and Simply— In much the same way we’re eating local and choosing foods when they’re in season, we’re making a more conscious effort to drink that way, too.
6.  Fast Food Beyond the Fizz—T here are changes happening here, too, with specialty drinks getting as much play as burgers and fries.
7.  Craft Beers: The Buzz Is Back— While overall beer sales are flat these days, sales of craft brews are seeing double-digit increases.
8.  Bourbon Booming —The retro revival of the classic cocktail has hip young consumers bellying up to the bar for whiskey.
9.  Show Biz— While the food generally takes center stage in restaurant exhibitionism, beverages are being offered more starring roles.
10.Drinking Ourselves Thin—We want to enjoy our drinks without drinking in the extra calories.

Friday, August 12, 2011

BA's Olympic Menu

In less than two weeks, British Airways is expected to announce the short list of potential winners of its Olympic Menu competition. Industry watchers should learn what the airline plans to feature in the run-up to the London Games next year. Entries for the competition closed on July 27.

Involved in the competition and preparation is British Airways' new culinary sideman, Heston Blumenthal. The winning chef short list are expected to present the meals August 22 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The dishes will be rolled out for passengers in World Traveller in March of next year and in First and Club World cabins in July.

The competition is garnering a little coverage around the Internet and blogosphere. Bakery products supplier En Route is urging countrymen and women to stay tuned for the announcement. The promotion also gets a mention on the Heathrow Meet & Greet website.

In May, the Guardian ran this story on BA's Olympics sponsorship.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Spirit Airlines' Experiment

Spirit Airlines noted the completion of its first year of what it calls its "customer friendly bag policy" this week. 

"Amidst a media frenzy of emotion, the policy has proven to be a highly effective response to the boarding time maelstrom that still affects the rest of the airline industry," said Spirit in a August 4 release noting the anniversary. 

Spirit's policy of charging passengers for large carry-on baggage stowed in the overhead bins has had a number of affects, according to the airline. 
  • Passengers who travel with less baggage save money.
  • Customers who choose to pay to carry on a large bag find space near their seat.
  • The need to check a bag at the jet bridge or on the aircraft has been virtually eliminated. 
  • There has been a sharply reduced rate of injury among passengers and crew. 
Spirit only charges for baggage that needs to be placed in an overhead bin. Passengers are free to place smaller bags under the seat. Medical devices, diaper bags and onboard reading material are also exempt.

An industry watcher would have been reasonable to expect some type of consumer backlash to this policy, but apparently that's not happening. Many passengers who willingly check their baggage appreciate the relief from the hectic boarding process which many readers here, we're sure are quite familiar.