What Airlines are Doing for You?

Forbes India Global Business Traveller's Guide spells out what airlines are doing to make your flights better

Published: May 8, 2010 06:31:40 AM IST
Updated: May 8, 2010 08:06:31 AM IST
What Airlines are Doing for You?
OPEN SPACE Virgin Atlantic's first class

Airline quality ratings are looking up. Flyers have fewer seats on offer, but are looked after better. Here’s what some of the most competitive airlines are doing with the things that matter: Seats, food, in-flight entertainment (IFE), overall comfort and new improvements.

Jet Airways
Seats: Passengers rate Jet Premiere among the best in its class. Long-haul flights offer a 180° flat bed with lumbar support and massage systems, an oversized table, power points, telephony, SMS, email and live text news.
Food: Maintains a fairly high standard of in-flight dining and service.
IFE: Panasonic, with audio/video-on-demand (AVOD) on most flights
What’s New: Jet Konnect Select — a new class priced between business and economy — will feature wider, more comfortable seats with more leg-room on its Boeing 737s, complementary hot meals, reading material and a welcome drink, lounge access and priority check-in at dedicated counters.



COMFORT ZONE Kingfisher's business class

Seats: Kingfisher First has in-seat massagers, laptop and mobile charger and USB ports on every seat. You can get your spectacles cleaned and jackets ironed on international flights.
Food: Silver thali cuisine for Indian food lovers. All-day dining service and an Air-lounge on the long-haul planes that invites passengers to break the ice.
IFE: A tub of popcorn with movies, multiplayer gaming, Live TV.
Travel Comfort: They call you a ‘guest’ and they treat you like one.
Whats New: Flights to the Gulf, Far East and Europe.

British Airways
Seats: Club World only survives on longer routes. The arrangement where the seats face each other (with a partition that can be pulled up for privacy) is still unique. In at least some of the seats, you are spared from leaping
over your sleeping co-passenger, a feat only Singapore Airlines, with its all-aisle-seats have managed. Food: While the food has mixed reviews, the wine cellar is imaginatively sourced and stocked with both old and new world wines. Hot dishes from the Club kitchen for Club World passengers, like soups and chicken tikka, are great for those in-between times when you feel pekish on a long flight.
IFE: High Life Entertainment (AVOD) offers about 100 movies, TV shows and 20 games.
Travel Comfort: Relax in the lounge. Enjoy a pre-flight supper. After a nightcap or a snack, sleep undisturbed until breakfast in bed, just before landing at Heathrow.
What’s New: Very classy new first class inspired by private jets and luxury cars like Jaguar and Aston Martin to be rolled out. A £100m makeover to woo the upper crust.

What Airlines are Doing for You?
ICE BREAKER Emirates' A380s have a special lounge area

Seats: Lie-flat seats, almost-flat seats; and a a new ‘fixed-pod’ design where you are unaffected if the seat ahead of you is reclined. The seats are private and cosy, but have been called narrow and cramped. When flat, they are slightly inclined and difficult to sleep in.
Food: The food in Business and First has won many industry awards.
IFE: Among the best available today. Ice Digital Widescreen and Ice (AVOD); Emirates TV&Radio (non-AVOD). Over 600 channels of entertainment.
Travel Comfort: Business class gets complimentary chauffeur-driven airport transfers. You can make calls on some flights and also use your own mobile phones. Among the first to allow mobile phones on board.
What’s New: WiFi to be introduced on flights in the next few months. Emirates takes delivery of seven new A380 next year, so route expansion coming up, not only to the big capitals but also to smaller cities. New lounges in Mumbai and Delhi.

Seats: Business class ‘lie-flat’ seats aren’t quite 180°, so you slide down. As long as you don’t want to sleep, it is pretty comfortable.
Food: Called ‘connoisseurs on board’, complemented by great tableware designed by Rosenthal. An individual Express Menu, as well as the optional breakfast-to-go, means you can rest for longer, especially on night flights.
IFE: Lufthansa Media World (AVOD, non-AVOD, overhead), with a good movie selection.
Travel Comfort: Service usually efficient; basic with no frills. Compared to the lengths that the other Asian and European airlines are going, this old war horse falls sadly short.
What’s New: Passengers benefit from greater access within the airlines that Lufthansa has bought over the years (including Swissair, BMI, Brussels Airlines, Eurowings, Ukraine Airlines, Jet Blue and many smaller carriers).

Singapore Airlines


FUN AND GAMES Singapore Airlines' inflight entertainment

Seats: Business class seats are superb. Over 30 inches of seat pitch (legroom), a great balance of privacy, thoughtful storage space, and light. Make calls from their satellite phones.
Food: Conducts sessions with privileged passengers to tweak its food service and address complaints. You can book your main course beforehand and choose between dozens of religious, cultural and medical meal options.
IFE: KrisWorld (New KrisWorld and Wiseman 3000: AVOD). Business class has a 15.4-inch high-res LCD screen. You can connect the IFE screen to your laptop, or to a camera.
Travel Comfort: Legendary warm efficiency.
What’s New: It’s scrapping first class on many flights. The extra space is being used to beef up business class seat size and service.

(Compiled by Divya Subramaniam)


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(This story appears in the 21 May, 2010 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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  • SM

    I think the real question should be what Airlines are really doing to make air travel cheaper and convenient for the customers and most importantly sustainable for the Airline companies themselves in the long term. Its quite easy to buy fancy jets and stuff it with fancy gadgets, but are they really making money for the companies, in short - are they financially sustainable. Its appalling to see these airline companies to queue in front of the governments for bail outs as soon as there is a setback. I think they should rethink their business model completely. Air transport business has long evolved from being a luxury service to be a necessity so the Airlines companies should plan their long term strategy accordingly. Value is at the bottom of the pyramid!!

    on May 9, 2010
  • Nick Fielding

    Singapore Airlines' Business Class is unsurpassed as far as I'm concerned. The seat is massive and together with the Givenchy bedware is a match made in heaven (or at least the skies). Together with the legendary service and brilliant catering, it's a very attractive proposition.

    on May 9, 2010
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