360 Magazine Culture Editor, Tom Wilmer reports on the numerous glitches in the process of traveling safe in the air.
The day before I checked in for an early morning flight to Austin, Texas via SFO and Houston, United Airlines was advertising their promise to maintain empty middle-seat flights. But something went haywire at United overnight, as two of my three flights to Austin were packed to the gills with most middle seats occupied—it would have been all three flights, but I was upgraded to first on one leg.
When I checked in for my flight, a notice popped up on my phone from United informing me that it would be a fairly full flight and they offered alternative flights as an option. Nice gesture but rerouting would have entailed a delay until the following day to get to my destination—with no guarantee that the alternate flight option would have blocked middle seats.
As of this writing, virtually all airlines proudly tout mandatory mask requirements for all passengers—but while en route onboard my flights, the dutiful masked passengers dropped their face coverings as flight attendants dispensed beverages (water) and cookies. So there I was, mere inches from my seat mate, both of us doing our duty, wearing our masks – but now protecting only our chins, from the evil, invisible germ. And throughout the cabin it was the same, basically mask-less, scene.
Arriving at Austin/Bergstrom’s TSA cattle chutes, Social-Distancing sticker reminders adorned the concrete floor, every six feet…and the queued-up passengers were actually compliant in their attempts to maintain their distance — that is until we were flagged past the TSA ticket/identification checker. As passengers queued up to take shoes off, extract make-up bags, computers etc., they suddenly, randomly squished frantically up to within three or four inches from one another.
Throughout this collapse of proper social distancing, TSA workers ignored the traffic jamb and continued barking out reminders to remove laptops etc., from bags—but zero, zippo, nada, commands were interjected to maintain proper social distancing as the jumbled-up passengers squished toward the x-ray bag tunnel and body scanner.
Transiting through Denver’s DIA Airport, gaggles of Boulderites, and Denverians dutifully and proudly wore their masks. However, salted in to the hord of obedient, transiting passengers were the all-too-frequent mask less rogues with chins held high and chests puffed out proudly.
The reality of traveling by air today is akin to rush hour commuting by automobile. One moment you’re flowing along at a comfortably safe, even clip while maintaining a proper distance between you and the car ahead. A split second later the flow of traffic snarls up and you jamb on the brakes—Traveling by air is much the same, it’s a continual battle to protect yourself and maintain a bubble of safety.
Alaska Airlines Ranks Highest among Traditional Carriers for 12th Consecutive Year; JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines Tie for Highest Rank among Low-Cost Carriers
Is this the golden age of air travel? According to the J.D. Power 2019 North America Airline Satisfaction Study, SM a combination of newer planes, better ticket value and improved customer touchpoints have driven overall satisfaction with airlines to its highest point in history, up 11 points (on a 1,000-point scale) from last year’s record-setting performance. The surge is driven by significant improvements among traditional carriers, while satisfaction slowed with low-cost carriers.
“Airlines continue to deliver on the operational side of air travel,” said Michael Taylor, Travel Intelligence Lead at J.D. Power. “New technology investments have dramatically improved the reservation and check-in process. Fleets are newer and travelers generally feel that they are getting great value for their money. These improvements have been most profound in the traditional carrier segment, where customer satisfaction has climbed considerably.
“While low-cost carriers have historically had the highest levels of customer satisfaction in our study, due to a strong sense of value for money among customers, that line is starting to blur as traditional carriers improve their services and operations,” Taylor added. “The one area where both traditional and low-cost carriers can still improve, however, is in in-flight services. It continues to be the lowest-ranked factor in the study, as many airlines still struggle with in-flight entertainment, connectivity, in-seat power, and food service.”
Following are some of the key findings of the 2019 study:
Record-high customer satisfaction: Overall satisfaction with airlines increases 11 points to 773, continuing an eight-year trend of satisfaction improvement.
Improvement is driven by traditional carriers: This year’s significant gains in customer satisfaction are driven by the traditional carriers, whose segment satisfaction score improves 22 points from 2018. The low-cost segment—while still having higher overall satisfaction than the traditional carrier segment—declines 6 points from 2018, thus driving a segment convergence in satisfaction.
Tech investments in reservation and check-in systems pay off: The reservation and check-in experiences are the most satisfying portions of the airline experience, driven by investments in digital check-in technologies, self-service kiosks and a concerted effort among airlines to improve the efficiency of the pre-flight process.
In-flight service remains a stumbling block: In-flight services, such as seatback entertainment, food service, and Wi-Fi continue to be the lowest-ranked part of the air traveler experience. Specific in-flight amenities that have the greatest positive effect on customer satisfaction are fresh food, seatback games and seatback live television.
Among traditional carriers, Alaska Airlines ranks highest for the 12th consecutive year, with a score of 801. Delta Air Lines (788) ranks second and American Airlines (764) ranks third.
Among low-cost carriers, JetBlue Airways (817) and Southwest Airlines (817) rank highest in a tie. For Southwest, this is the third consecutive year at the top of the J.D. Power ranking.
Among Canada-based airlines, Air Canada (729) saw its customer satisfaction score declined 5 points from 2018. WestJet (758) saw its score increase 11 points but remains below the low-cost carrier average.
The North America Airline Satisfaction Study, now in its 15th year, measures passenger satisfaction with airline carriers in North America based on performance in seven factors (in order of importance): cost and fees; in-flight services; aircraft; boarding/deplaning/baggage; flight crew; check-in; and reservation. The study measures passenger satisfaction among both business and leisure travelers and is based on responses from 5,966 passengers who flew on a major North American airline between March 2018 and March 2019. The study was fielded from April 2018 through March 2019.
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J.D. Power is a global leader in consumer insights, advisory services, and data and analytics. These capabilities enable J.D. Power to help its clients drive customer satisfaction, growth, and profitability. Established in 1968, J.D. Power has offices serving North America, South America, Asia Pacific, and Europe.
“Entering ACJ Infinito means exploring a place of wonders, where each element, space, and color are hand-stitched around the needs and requirements of the client, transforming them into emotion and inspiration”.
ACJ319neo Infinito is an ultra-luxurious jet born from the shared passion of Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ) and Pagani Automobili, which decided, in 2016, to combine their artisanal skills and pioneering vision in order to create something absolutely unique.
The Infinito cabin represents the quintessence of the Pagani philosophy in a state-of-the-art aircraft: a distinctive style, seamlessly combined with unrivalled material technology. Infinite, just like man’s gaze towards the horizon and beyond.
After tireless work and profound study of the physical and sensorial aspects of air travel, the two companies now present new values and ideas of travel aboard an aircraft, which, from a mere means of transport thus becomes a place of emotion and inspiration, without sacrificing important engineering achievements. ACJ Infinito is, in fact, a made-to-measure work of art entirely designed around the sensations and the emotions of the client.
All Airbus corporate jets come from the most modern family of aircraft on the market and offer the highest world standards of care in corporate aviation. ACJ customers are always part of a dedicated and exclusive community, they are provided with a dedicated service wherever they choose to fly in the world. They purchase much more than a product: they invest in their future, for a unique flying experience.
For the first time, two different worlds, two centres of excellences come together to give birth to a unique project: an aircraft that mirrors Leonardo Da Vinci’s principle of Art and Science: the harmony of beauty and engineering, both in the outcome and in the way of working. Pagani has always been a creator of tailored clothes and high-performance hypercars, whose technical content also exudes passion, technology and research into unique designs. Every object is unique, every creation is an art object that inspires and thrills with its lines and forms. The ideal of beauty is taken to a whole new level with the Infinito cabin, conveying the same emotions as a work of art, nurturing the mind and the senses, as well as relaxing the body during travel.
Detail, spaces, colors. “Each sensation conveyed by Infinito has to be the same as that conveyed by a work of art. These are the emotions we live for and we simply can’t live without,”tells Horacio Pagani, Chief Designer and Founder of Pagani Automobili, about the project, its main inspiration and the collaboration with ACJ.
“We were emotionally involved from the beginning. The project seemed challenging, to say the least.” The Modenese Atelier of hypercars has deployed its extensive experience in composite material and provided Class A tailored carbon fiber components, despite the high investments and production costs. “We have the technology, knowledge and skill for this project,” emphasises Horacio Pagani on the challenges that emerged in the process, “and we do want to invest in this direction.” Pagani’s expertise and advanced composite materials are used in the interiors of an airplane for the very first time, including carbon fiber and carbo-titanium, saving about a tonne compared with other similar projects, thus improving both range and take-off performance.
The interiors are designed around the client’s flight experience, with thorough attention to physical sensations and feelings. “We started with the client, around him we created a relaxing and comfortable environment, not only for the shapes and the design, but also for the visual sensation, for which we followed some chromotherapy principles. Even the smallest detail was given the maximum attention, so as to dynamically assist the client’s sensations across different time zones.” Infinito’s sky ceiling, entirely lined with digital displays, offers a play of light and images, for example, by projecting a sunset or a starry sky, minimising the physical and mental effects of jet lag.
“The feel of the materials, the warmth of the leather or the wood, the intelligence and sinuosity of the spaces, each detail has to convey emotions of peace and safety, like when we’re home or in a familiar and inspiring place.” continues Horacio Pagani on the choice of materials and the habitability of the aircraft. “Our idea is of a single, great space which fosters both movement and sensorial perceptions.” The absence of visual barriers, and the sense of infinite vision that surrounds the client, are the objectives of this tailored creation, simple but essential elements to facilitate a journey of several hours. The compartments inside are, in fact, provided with opacifying glass, when privacy is wished, supported by a carbon fiber framework, hand-made by the Modenese artisans, a homage to the first air inventions of the past centuries, and at the same time a highly robust solution.
ACJ319neo’s interior was entirely designed not only for artistic appeal, but also to be functional: after thorough research on internal spaces and volumes, ACJ Infinito’s compartments provide larger capacity while being less intrusive than other interior designs.
The feeling of hospitality in this ultra-luxurious jet continues with the choice of the single spaces within the aircraft. “At the entrance, a cafe. A genuine and heartfelt way to welcome your client is, of course, by providing refreshment!”. The feeling of familiarity, of home, that you can breathe within Infinito sometimes makes us forget about being on an airplane. This is the uniqueness that ACJ and Pagani Automobili have been striving for in the making of this flying artwork. Home is a safe and peaceful place, as well as a place of inspiration and emotions. Infinito aims to project the client into the same atmosphere of absolute relaxation, to stimulate his imagination and inspiration, reshaping the time of the journey into a time of ideas, visions and answers.
Infinito comes to life for art lovers, for those who love beauty and genius, for those who have an extremely refined idea of air travel, a dream to share with somebody. It’s not just a mere exercise in style, it’s a handmade piece of art, created to trigger sincere and genuine emotions in the client’s heart.
“To us, individual tailoring is what boosts and enriches our imagination – and that of our clients. It is pure passion for our work, and for customer care.”
The new era of corporate jets finds Pagani Automobili and ACJ collaborating side by side to create this new, absolutely made-to-measure masterpiece, bringing their infinite artisanal experience to a fast-growing and extremely fascinating market.
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