Friday, September 23, 2011

They're at it again

It was something I hadn't seen in awhile, but toward the middle of this week, a major travel guide publisher, Lonely Planet decided to poll followers of its Twitter account about their experiences with airline meals. 

"Let us know the worst meal you've experiences (sp) on an airplane," it asked. The tweets were still rolling in as the weekend approached. 

I tweeted that it was unfortunate the Lonely Planet didn't get to visit last week's events in Seattle. They would have had a chance to see talented chefs at work on the trade floor of the International Flight Services Association Conference and Exhibition and some of the innovations at companies like Zodiac Aerospace and B/E Aerospace at the Aircraft Interiors Expo Americas, located next door. But if entertainment was more their preference, this year's Airline Passenger Experience Association had a dazzling array of new developments. The IFE segment of the industry is undergoing a fit of development  and the variety of new products now vying for the airline's attention was impressive this time around. 

IFSA's new president, David Loft, was even so bold as to tell us that food and beverage service could be playing an important role of differentiation in years to come. To that, we say: Why Not?

Our friends at Lonely Planet print great travel guides. But they should look around a little if they want to get a complete picture of airline food service. Just last week, we ran across this story about the developments at Asia's Boutique Airline, Bangkok Airways. For the next six months, the airline will be serving up great looking food developed by The Pavillions Phuket (home of the 2007 IFSA Asia-Pacific Conference). 

Combine the talent of chefs anxious to set their creations before an airline passenger, with new galley products that can prepare food in ways that were not imagined 20 years ago, and the development of amazing aircraft like the A380 and 787, and food service could take its place with seating and IFE as the part of the flight a passenger will remember most about their most recent travel experience. Let's hope they don't forget to tweet about it.


On the subject of innovations, I was surprised to learn this past week that the possibility of Airbus's SPICE Galley System finding its way into airline service is anything but certain. I queried Airbus' Vice President of MarketingBob Lange on the subject last week in Seattle.  He made it clear that getting the industry to work with the airframer on moving ahead with SPICE was "proving to be a point of difficulty."

The next six to nine months will be a critical period for the future of SPICE, said Lange. If things don't pan out, he said SPICE may be put "on ice" until Airbus develops another aircraft.

-Rick Lundstrom

Friday, September 16, 2011

Coverage of fall event

The Seattle Post-Intellegencer reporter/blogger  Andrew Cohen found his way into this year's triple event at the city's convention center. 

In addition visiting the usual stops for high-tech bells and whistles, he visited companies at the International Flight Services Association and seemed to enjoy a few of the food service products. What caught his attention was the interesting flavor combinations at the Conway Dressings stand. Latin and Asian fusions and a a vinaigrette made with pomegranate and acai were a few of the notable flavor offerings. 

The TrayVu by Skycast, the inflight entertainment system in a see-through tray was one of the latest in a series of interesting designs creating buzz from a conceptual standpoint. Innovations in in-seat IFE have been shaking up the industry of late. 

Outside the usual gaggle of press that attend the three events, I found little in the way of coverage from the consumer media. Odd that such an event so ripe for visuals and of interest to the general public should get so little in the way of outside media coverage. 

I was surprised when I asked Bob Lange of Airbus Industrie about the acceptance and development of the SPICE Galley system so touted at IFSA and Aircraft Interiors events in the past. It now appears to be fighting for its life among the company's innovations.  In six to nine months, Mr. Lange said the company will make a decision on whether to put the whole SPICE Galley program "on ice" until another Airbus aircraft is developed. 

If anyone has spotted any other coverage of the IFSA/APEX/Interiors event, feel free to share it here.

-Rick Lundstrom