With all the talk about the cost of air travel being on the rise, you’d imagine the golden glamour days of air travel were a thing of the prosperous past. But, far from it, the glitz is still very much alive, with airline companies going out of their way to incorporate shiny new innovations to keep the allure of air travel alive. From opulent, air-borne luxury suites to tickle the fancy of the loaded CEO and Napa’s best bubbly for the wine connoisseur to delightful little touches like crystal gazing into your cup, the experiences offered by airlines are numerous and multivariate. And admit it, even the food is better by miles, than even a few years ago, with the introduction of celebrity chefs and their celebrated menus, replete with dishes with names so fancy, you’d need a French coach to say them right.
The glory days or airline travel are yet alive. Touche.
Here are some glammed-up initiatives taken by airlines and airports in recent times.
Korean Air first sent the travel glamour meter in 2007 with the debut of its flirtatious “What Korean Air is made of” campaign, which looked more haute couture than airline. The sensuous ads featured high-fashion models naughtily applying lipstick and popping Champagne corks in a dreamy sequence accompanied by trance music. While the campaign initially puzzled observers, it brought the airline to the spotlight and led to a second round of provocative ads in 2010.
Crystal gazing into your cup:
Now, every time you finish off your drink on a Virgin America airplane and peer into your empty cup, you might feel like you’re looking into a gemstone. The unique faceted design moulded into the clear plastic makes it appear as though you are looking inside a carved gemstone. You will also notice a little snippet embossed on the bottom of the cup that reads, “Was it as refreshing for you as it was for me?” Jesse McMillin, design director of the airline, said that the idea behind this was to “not cop-out by merely slapping a standard logo onto the airline cup”.
Luxury lounges in the air:
Airport lounges are becoming so plush that it’s tempting to get to the airport early just to soak in all the sumptuousness. Emirates Airline’s brand-new business and first class lounge at San Francisco International Airport is one such example. For many years, Emirates passengers shared quarters with United Airlines customers at its massive business-class lounge but last year, Emirates got its hands on an unused transit lounge and transformed it into the poshest perch at the airport—and the only Emirates lounge on the West Coast. The 9,500 square feet space is large enough to comfortably seat 140 passengers. The lounge features marble floors, gold Rolex clocks, LED TVs and leather armchairs, and also has the largest dining area among the other lounges at SFO airport. Customers can choose from range of hot and cold foods and spirits.
To make its mark in the transcontinental market, Delta Air Lines recently teamed up with celebrity chef Michael Chiarello to bring a fresh approach to dinner in its BusinessElite cabins. Chiarello helped develop Delta’s elaborate multi-course winter dinner menu, which starts off with antipasti misto that include fennel-spiced crostini served with a roasted squash spread, pickled mushrooms and a nutty dry jack cheese from Sonoma. Next comes a small plate of pesto penne served with broccoli rabe and a dollop of fresh ricotta cheese. Entrées include chicken Milanese served with roasted brussels sprouts or pancetta-wrapped beef tenderloin served with pesto mashed potatoes and roasted mushrooms. For dessert, there’s strawberry, pistachio or chocolate hazelnut gelato.
Etihad Airways has private suites on many of its aircrafts, with leather upholstery, a lit wardrobe and a bed that is 204.5cm long. There is also a changing room with a full-length mirror and a washbasin. The suite has a Poltrona Frau leather seat that converts to a fully flat bed, a large wood-finished table, Arabic-styled sliding doors offering complete privacy, a 23-inch personal entertainment screen, a personal wardrobe with mirror, personal minibar, and four individual lighting options with dimmers, in-seat power points and USBs. The chef helps passengers select their meals and accompanying drinks, and then creates their meal on board, allowing passengers to make changes to the dish.
Virgin Atlantic’s new Dream Suite is described as a stylish evolution of the current design, which swaps Virgin’s trademark purple leather seat for darker chocolate-black tones, with wooden veneer and brushed metal. The cabin also has Swarovski crystal accents for that touch of Virgin Atlantic sparkle. Other new features include a ‘literature pocket’ for stowing books and magazines plus a flexible LED reading lamp which snakes down from the top of the divider wall.
AirBaltic launched an advertising campaign some time back that featured several airline-themed shoe designs branded in the airline’s colours. The shoes created such a buzz that people began asking airBaltic via Facebook and Twitter where they could buy the shoes. AirBaltic was quick to embrace this marketing opportunity to gain some free exposure and turned one of the designs into an actual limited edition shoe, which for EUR55 can be purchased at the airline’s online shop and in duty free stores at Riga
For once, you might WANT to be pulled over by the guards and undergo a thorough search. During the Euro 2012, Ukraine’s Borispol airport, near Kiev, had border guards who looked like they stepped out from a Calvin Klein advert- manicured nails, perfect make-up and amazing hair et al.
Upper class on your lips:
Virgin Atlantic, which sports a red logo, red engines and red seats, now has launched a lip colour for its female flight attendants, who are required to wear the red lipstick along with their distinctive red suits and heels. They’ll be sporting a new shade as the innovative airline dips its wing into the beauty industry with the launch of a lipstick in a shade called Upper Class Red, which is part of a marketing campaign for the airline’s redesigned Upper Class cabins. Red lips are said to signify the glamour and style synonymous with the Virgin Atlantic brand. To create the lipstick, Virgin Atlantic teamed up with bareMinerals’ Pretty Amazing Lipcolor, who carefully selected a shade to match the brand’s signature Virgin Atlantic red. The lipstick can be purchased exclusively at a cost of $16 at the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Spas at Heathrow, Gatwick, and JFK airports, and through the airline’s on-board shopping guide.
Other Glimpses of Glamour
For airlines’ most valued passengers, even more upgrades are being built into the travel experience. Take note of these recent developments for premium passengers:
· First-class passengers on British Airways can now hang coats and store shoes in personal, seat-side valet closets.
· On Lufthansa, a first-class passenger gets his own combination locker for secure storage of personal effects.
· Singapore Airlines’ new in-flight amenity kits are now stocked with lotions and potions from Kiehl’s.
· Another of Cathay Pacific’s signature fresh, chef-staffed noodle bars has landed in its chic new business-class lounge at San Francisco International.
· Delta has teamed up with Porsche to surprise and delight elite SkyMiles members with rock-star chauffeur service from the plane (via Cayenne or Panamera) to the parking lot at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.