passenger experience

Flying on Valentine’s Day? Cupid may be too.

Charles Lindbergh-themed Valentine

Air travel isn’t romantic unless you’re flying with your sweetie or are on your way to being with them, but this Valentine’s Day some airports and airlines are doing what they can to make the day special.

Shortcut to marriage

The uptick of couples applying for last minute marriage licenses in Las Vegas around Valentine’s Day usually overwhelms the downtown county’s clerk’s office, so this year there’s a pop-up marriage license bureau set up through February 17 in the baggage claim area of Terminal 1 at McCarran International Airport.

Couples will still need to find someone to perform the legal marriage ceremony, but filling out a pre-application and getting a license at the airport can go a long way in streamlining the process. For lovebirds in a rush, keep in mind that the Terminal 1 baggage claim area at the Las Vegas airport also has 24-hour flower vending machines and a to-go liquor shop.

Flowers and chocolates

(Courtesy PHL Airport)

As they have in previous years, volunteers at both Philadelphia International Airport and Florida’s Jacksonville International Airport will be handing out Valentine’s Day carnations to passengers.

To celebrate the opening of its automated people mover – called SkyConnect – and its new 2.6 million square foot rental car center, Tampa International Airport will be giving out 1,000 roses to passengers and guests who come out for the first ride.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport caps off its fourth “We Love Our Guests Campaign” on Valentine’s Day with key rings and teddy bears for passengers and photo booths and love-themed music playing throughout the airport.

There will be a “Kissing Booth” distributing chocolate kisses and Valentines to passengers at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) on February 14 and a chance to hug and pose with some of the miniature therapy horses that regularly visit the airport.

The horses at CVG will be decked out in their Valentine’s Day attire, as will the therapy dogs at Los Angeles International, Phoenix Sky Harbor and many other airports around the country. The love-fest will continue February 16, when specially-dressed therapy dogs and team-member Lilou the pig help passengers usher in the Lunar New Year at a photo station in San Francisco International Airport.

Heat-shaped lollipops will be handed out to passengers during Valentine’s Day in many terminals at Los Angeles International Airport and in the Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale International Airport they’ll be celebrating the day with a live entertainment, face painting, and complimentary chocolate roses and candy buffets.

Chocolates will be offered to passengers flying through Austin Bergstrom International Airport on February 14 and, for those who still need to purchase a Valentine’s gift before leaving the airport, they’ll be a booth selling chocolate-covered strawberries from local favorite Amy’s Ice Creams in the bag claim area. Shops in most every other airport will have chocolates, heart-shaped bake-goods and trinkets and other romantic items wrapped and ready to go as well.

Valentine’s Day activities at Heathrow International Airport will include live music, free heart-shaped candies, Polaroid photo ops, complimentary caricature sketches and make-your-own Valentine’s Day card stations. And to insure no Valentine’s Day proposals are inadvertently ruined by a shiny engagement ring drawing the attention of a security officer at the checkpoint,  officials at England’s East Midlands Airport have been offering “secret codes” to travelers who’d like their bags inspected out of their traveling companion’s line of vision.

Airlines offering Valentine’s Day treats for travelers. 

Passengers on Southwest Airlines flights will be treated to a complimentary alcoholic beverage on Valentine’s Day and, at airports across the country, airline employees will be setting up candy and card stations for passengers. Some Southwest flights will be declared “fun flights,” with employees hosting trivia games and giveaways as well.

United Airlines will be setting up Valentine’s Day candy stations in its club lounges on Valentine’s Day, ANA (All Nippon Airways) will be handing out specially-made chocolates to all passengers, and Alaska Airlines will be unveiling a heart-shaped sculpture with a special meaning at San Francisco International Airport.

And Economy and Business Class passengers taking a Valentine’s Day flight from Dubai on Emirates will be served heart-shaped chocolates with their meals.

 

 

APEX awards applaud airlines for attention to passenger experience

 

 

I had the honor of being a judge for one of the awards handed out Monday night at the APEX Awards Ceremony to honor airlines for excellence in passenger experience.

 

(APEX is the Airline Passenger Experience Association, an organization of airlines, suppliers and related companies holding its annual APEX EXPO in Long Beach, California this week.)

14 awards were the 2012 Passenger Choice Awards, which are voted on by the traveling public through online surveys  anyone can fill out and are tabulated by the Nielsen Company.

Here are the winners:

Best in Region: Africa – South African Airways

Best in Region: Americas – Virgin America

Best in Region: Asia and Australasia – SriLankan Airlines

Best in Region: Europe – Virgin Atlantic

Best in Region: Middle East – Emirates

Best Inflight Publication – Southwest Airlines

Best IFE User Interface – Virgin America

Best Inflight Connectivity & Communications – Norwegian

Best Inflight Video – Kingfisher Airlines

Best Cabin Ambiance – Virgin America

Best Food & Beverage, in conjunction with IFSA – Singapore Airlines

Best Ground Experience – Kingfisher Airlines

Best Overall Passenger Experience (over 50 IFE EQUPPED IN FLEET)  – Emirates

Best Overall Passenger Experience (Up to 50 IFE EQUIPPED IN FLEET) – Virgin America

(IFE = In-Flight Entertainment)

Two categories judged by people in the industry were the Avion Awards for Best in Passenger Experience and Best Achievement in Technology.

Delta Airlines won the Best Achievement in Technology award for “Demystifying the Checked Bag Experience.”

I was on the panel for the Best in Passenger Experience awards, which were given to one vendor and to one airline.

Lufthansa Systems received the award for its BoardConnect system   and  Brussels Airlines  won the Best in Passenger Experience award for its new long haul cabin, which includes a business-class section with both “King” seats for those want to sit alone and “double” seats for couples of business partners who would like to be able to talk to each other.  What especially caught the panel’s attention was the addition of a pneumatic cushion/mattress to the seats which allows passengers to increase and decrease the softness of the bed in various places.

Today the APEX EXPO’s exhibit hall opens. Ive got comfortable shoes and a notepad at the ready and will spend the day poking around to see what’s new, interesting and, of course, destined to make traveling more fun and enjoyable. We’ll see…