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Travelogue – A weekend in Jakarta March 29, 2013

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Airlines, Travel.
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A visual travelogue from my weekend getaway to Jakarta, Indonesia in October 2012. This was my first trip on Emirates Airline since joining them. Enjoyed the journey on Business Class onboard the Emirates Boeing 777-300ER. Lovely flight, fantastic service. Jakarta is a very chilled out destination. Very green city. Extremely friendly people. The welcoming smiles begin at the Visa on Arrival counter. It is one of the most populous cities in the Far East and can be a bit overwhelming, however I was able to find my unique oasis of tranquility. I enjoyed a relaxing stay at Le Meridien, watched the rains from my window, did a bit of mall crawling and city hopping, and caught up on much-needed sleep, before jetting back to Dubai. I wouldn’t mind going back to Jakarta again. Bali as well, next time!

All pics clicked on iPhone 4s.

 

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My last flight on Kingfisher Airlines April 2, 2012

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Airlines, Aviation, Branding, India, Marketing, Social Media, Travel, UAE.
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I’m a loyal customer of India’s Kingfisher Airlines. I first flew Kingfisher in Jan 2011 but since then I have flown them 15 times. I fly them as much as possible. I often pay a premium to fly them even when I have cheaper or non-stop flights available. I even recommend it to those who are looking for flights to India. The only time I flew another airline to India instead of Kingfisher I felt like I was cheating on a partner.

What I like the most about Kingfisher is how they make me feel special when I fly with them. Another reason I love to fly them is their social media engagement. I became a loyal Kingfisher customer because of how they engaged with me on social media the first time I flew with them and have been connected to me since then.

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Seattle Ahoy on the Emirates Inaugural March 9, 2012

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Airlines, Aviation, Travel, UAE.
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So I lost control of my #avgeek senses and flew off to Seattle for a weekend on the inaugural Emirates flight out of Dubai.

I’ve always wanted to go to Seattle, visit Boeing and the Future of Flight Museum, catch up with #avgeek friends in the Puget Sound and most importantly, get on an inaugural flight and experience a water cannon salute. So I HAD to be on the inaugural EK229 on 1 March 2012 and tick off a couple of items on the bucket list.

Seattle is an amazing place and I don’t say that just because it is the home of Boeing. I will be back soon with more stories on Seattle but till then, enjoy these 2 videos!

Click here to read a travelogue of my trip featured on ArabianSupplyChain.com. 

My secrets to air travel on a budget June 10, 2011

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Airlines, Aviation, Social Media, Travel, UAE.
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4 comments

I’m a budget conscious traveler who takes a lot of pride in unearthing the best travel deals. I’m usually the guy my friends come up to because I always lead them to the best travel deals in the market. What’s my secret sauce?

Today, there are a plethora of online resources available that help you unearth great bargains no matter where you are flying to. These tools are my lifeline.

In today’s post, I’m going to put out some of my secrets as well as some cool tips that can help you discover great deals when it comes to flights. Fasten your seat belts, folks!

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The King of Good Times: A social media surprise from Kingfisher Airlines February 25, 2011

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Airlines, Aviation, Branding, Conversations, India, Social Media, Travel.
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As an aviation geek & a social media marketing professional, I keep a close eye out on airlines that are blitzing the social media trail.

On last count, there are over 180 airlines on Twitter. Every airline worth their salt is on Facebook building communities and rewarding loyalty via contests.


What I love most about airlines that are doing social media right is: those who are using social media to listen to their customers and offer them delightful surprises. Such a rare experience happened to me last month, via Kingfisher Airlines.

Kingfisher Airlines, based out of India is one of the world’s seven airlines to be ranked as a 5-star airline by Skytrax. They fly to 63 domestic destinations and 8 international destinations with an Airbus & ATR fleet. Headed by one of India’s most flamboyant tycoons Dr Vijay Mallya, Kingfisher has built a strong brand for itself in service and quality over the years. It wouldn’t be unfair to call Kingfisher the Virgin America of Indian skies.

I have watched Kingfisher’s meteoric rise and often lamented the fact that I have never flown them, primarily because they don’t fly out of Muscat. Anyhow, a great opportunity to try Kingfisher for the first time came up last month and I decided to fly them outbound on Dubai-Bengaluru-Cochin and Chennai-Bengaluru-Dubai on my inbound leg.

Kingfisher is active on Twitter and as always, I tweeted before my departure that I was flying them. I received a reply from them asking me to enjoy their service. Quite the appropriate thing to do on social media, yes?

I arrive at Dubai Airport on the date of my departure, stood in a snaking queue of flustered passengers waiting to check-in. When my turn came, I noticed the check-in agent spend a few extra seconds looking at her screen and then proceeded to consult with her supervisor before handing me a complimentary Lounge Access card. Now, how great is that?

Unfortunately, I couldn’t check out the Lounge as I was running late for my flight, so I boarded the all economy A321 and we were soon wheels up to Bengaluru. After reaching cruising altitude, the cabin crew started meal service. I noticed that they rolled up the cart straight to where I was sitting (somewhere in the middle of the plane) and asked me “Mr Rajagopal, what would you like to have for dinner?”

That was an absolute stunner for me. I know in premium classes it is a practice for crew to know beforehand who they are serving, but moi flying in Y class (or cattle class as one prominent Indian politician once described the back of the bus)? The crew knew my name and that was an absolutely delightful surprise for me. They served me well & I sure got a few envious looks from around the cabin.

The 2 cabin crew members who worked my section would come up to me once in a while and ensure that I was all comfy. Nothing artificial, but a genuine and warm desire to serve well, which is sadly missing from a lot of airlines this day. Believe you me, these are the little, personal touches that make flying such a lovely experience for me.

When I inquired how the crew knew me by name, I was told that they were informed beforehand that I would be flying with them and was asked to take special care of me. Social media at work, yes? 🙂

I felt like the ‘king of good times’ as I thoroughly enjoyed my flight and didn’t forget to compliment Kingfisher in my feedback form (I believe they should look at the paper quality of the form as ball point pens don’t write well on them – minor detail, I know).

I landed early morning at Bengaluru and almost missed my connecting flight to Cochin due to a security snafu. I literally missed my bus to the plane. However, the kind people at Kingfisher got me ferried to the waiting ATR in their car just in time. I hopped on the plane and we were off. Trust me on this; they could have left without me. Will never forget the sight of an ATR waiting on the ground on a misty morning, the crew peeping out of the door and me diving into it with my rucksack pulling me back. Reminded me of how we jump into moving trains. Another big star from me.

Landed in Cochin and I was happy to let Kingfisher know that my flights went well and they DMed back wishing me a great time in India. (Almost sounds like a love affair, hmmm?)

So I spent the next couple of days train hopping across India (I think I spent 7 out of my 9 days sleeping on overnight trains). A week later, I was ready to make the hop back to Dubai. I was flying from Chennai and on my local train ride to the airport, I was wondering if I would have any similar surprises in store.

I was met by this very helpful Kingfisher ground staff who helped me with my bags. And I did make a note of how Kingfisher staff are generally polite, professional and courteous. You begin to feel that these people, whether they are at the low end or the high end of the line, are carefully cherry-picked to live a certain brand vision that leads to delighting customers.

Proceeded to check-in and gladly got my fav seat on an A321 which gives you humongous amounts of legroom. There were no surprises waiting for me at the check-in desk. Must say, I was slightly disappointed after all the pampering a week ago. I traipsed across the terminal towards a Maggi noodle stall and went on to ravenously chomp down a noodle bowl.

As I gulp through my noodles, I spot 2 Kingfisher staff make a beeline for me and I’m like – Uh Oh! Crew: Mr. Rajagopal, we were looking for you… So again, Kingfisher decided to make my day. Minutes later, I was escorted into a lounge at Chennai Airport (at this point was beginning to feel like royalty) and the staff promised to fetch me before boarding. Spent a good 30 minutes in the lounge and then she was back.  Trust me, nothing beats the experience of being chaperoned by a Kingfisher crew on the ground. I did manage to count a few envious looks and did I say I didn’t have to stand in a line for my security check? The lovely crew member hopped with me on the bus and literally dropped me at the door of the plane. My mind was flying at 35k feet by then.

The flight to Bengaluru went without incident. Must say, I liked my seat on the ATR in front of the plane which is the only row facing the rest of the seats. They are comfortable and you get a feeling of flying in a biz jet. Landed at Bengaluru and was at met at the door of the plane by another Kingfisher staffer. I know that at this point this is all sounding like a giant ego-fueled fairy tale. But then this gorgeous staffer walks me from the plane, takes me through immigration and security, mind you, no standing in queues again, you are introduced everywhere as a ‘guest’ and then proceeds to comfortably ensconce me in a premium lounge at the International Terminal.

I tuck into some fine Sauvignon Blanc, Paneer rolls and rum cake as I wait for my ‘Bus to Dubai. My ‘handler’ appeared again before boarding and walked me on the airbridge till my jet, bidding bye and safe travels.

Wheels up to Dubai, great food, much better than on the inbound leg, caught some shuteye and a perfect landing – didn’t even know if we touched ground, just floated in and came to a stop at the airbridge. As we deplaned, the Captain came out to say hello. A great ending to an awesome Kingfisher tale.

So what’s the summary of this whole experience? Just a fluffy piece singing a lot of praise in favor of Kingfisher for making the day of a planegeek? Well, they earned it and yes, a big thank you to them for giving me one of the best flights in my life.

Will Kingfisher roll out the same red carpet treatment to everyone who tweets to them about their journeys? Perhaps not. But have they won a loyal customer and strong brand evangelist in me. Definitely, yes.

To sign off, brands engaging in social media take off to a new level when they are able to consistently and creatively offer value, engagement and delightful surprises to their audience.  It all starts from caring to listen and daring to surprise. Amen!

40 out of 40 for Oman Air September 2, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Advertising, Airlines, Aviation, Branding, Marketing, Oman, Travel.
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Launches 40th destination ahead of 40th National Day of Oman.

Pic credit: Christophe Selzere, JetPhotos.Net

Congratulations to Oman Air, the national airline of the Sultanate of Oman, who launched Kathmandu, its 40th destination today. 2010 is of great significance for the Sultanate as it marks the 40th National Day of Oman (the birthday of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said is on 18 November). Every corporate in the country is involved in a marketing activity to do with the #40, so it is great to see Oman Air celebrate in a unique manner by launching their 40th route.

Oman Air commenced operations in 1993. It achieved modest growth as a privately owned regional player till 2007, when the Government of Oman pulled out of Gulf Air, designated Oman Air as national carrier, recapitalized it and focused on developing it as an international airline. In 2007, Oman Air went long-haul by launching Bangkok and London. From then on, there has been no looking backwards for Oman Air, with a penchant of doing business differently from its bigger cousins in the region.

Pic credit: Smit ZhiFei, JetPhotos.Net

Oman Air - Flying High

2008 saw a slew of changes at Oman Air. In February 2008, Oman Air unveiled its new branding and aircraft livery as a part of its plans to go international. The characteristic Red, White and Green national colors and traditional Khanjar gave way to Turquoise Blue, Silver and Gold along with a Frankincense smoke plume in an effort to project Oman Air as the new wings of Oman and the ambassador of a nation known for its timeless traditions, vibrant heritage and legendary hospitality.

The year also saw the launch of new routes to the Indian Sub-Continent and the unveiling of a new fleet and long-haul route expansion program. In July 2008, industry veteran and former chief executive of Srilankan Airlines, Mr. Peter Hill took over as the new CEO of Oman Air following the untimely demise of CEO Ziad bin Karim Al Haremi, who played a stellar role in initiating the redevelopment and change of image of Oman Air.

2009 was truly a bellwether year for Oman Air. Under the leadership of Mr. Peter Hill and a revitalized management team, Oman Air went all out to dazzle the industry in a year of superlative achievements. The year witnessed in rapid succession the arrival of the first of Oman Air’s brand new A330s, the launch of Paris, Frankfurt, Munich, Male and Colombo, the unveiling of new Balenciaga designed uniforms, the launch of industry-leading First, Business and Economy Class cabins on the A330 fleet. A $10 million destination marketing campaign in association with Ministry of Tourism saw both Oman and Oman Air make great inroads into European markets. During the 2009 Dubai Air Show, Oman Air finalized an order for 5 Embraer 175 aircraft with another 5 options.

Oman Air First Class Cabin

Oman Air Business Class - 1st in world to offer 4-abreast seating in cabin

In 2010, Oman Air became the first airline in the world to offer in-flight mobile and WiFi connectivity through OnAir onboard its long-haul Airbus A330 fleet. It is interesting to note that Oman Air covered impressive strides during a period when the airline industry was weathering a downturn.

Having made significant investments in infrastructure and improving its products and services over the last few years, the future looks robust for Oman Air. The airline has a strategic vision of differentiating itself from its regional competitors by being a niche boutique airline that is focused on driving point-to-point traffic rather than being a hub-and-spoke carrier.

The results of ‘Change is on its way’ and ‘Discover the future of air travel’ are promising. During the first half of 2010, Oman Air saw a 40% increase in available seat-kilometres, a 73% rise in revenue passenger-kilometres and a 14 point improvement in seat factor, over the same period last year with passenger numbers up by 46% and cargo by 44%.

Along with the ongoing development of Muscat International Airport, Oman Air is playing a key role in the development of 4 domestic airports coming up in Sohar, Ras Al Hadd, Adam and Duqm. In October 2010, Oman Air will launch Milan as its 41st route. The airline will take delivery of its 7th A330 in 2011along with the first of Embraer jets that will ply on domestic routes. Plans are on to refurbish the existing B737 fleet to the same standards as the luxurious A330 fleet. Oman Air will take delivery of its first B787 Dreamliner in 2014 (the airline will be acquiring them from ALAFCO). The first of 6 737s on order are expected to arrive in 2014 as well.

The fortunes of Oman Air will be tied to the successful joint promotion of Oman as a must-visit luxury destination by both Oman Air and Oman’s Ministry of Tourism (a point Mr. Hill emphasizes often to fill the birds), development of ancillary services related to hospitality, tourism, ground services etc., and a continual improvement of travel services in a region that offers unparalleled choice to the flying public and intense competition between regional legacy carriers such as Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways who are truly global in their reach and cut-throat Low Cost Carriers such as Flydubai and Air Arabia.


Mabrook, Oman Air. More power to your wings. Fly higher for Oman!

Great value Eid holiday airfares from Muscat to 15 cities around the world August 26, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Airlines, Aviation, Marketing, Oman, Travel.
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The Eid holidays are upon us and there is very much a chance that those in Oman will get a week off from Thursday, 9th of September 2010 to Wednesday, 15th of September 2010(?).

If that happens, happy long week holidays to all you.

And just in case, if you are planning to fly out of town, here’s a quick look at airfares in Muscat.

Understandably, most of you must have already booked your tickets, especially to India. If not, you can use this guide to snap up the last remaining deals.

From my research, Bangkok looks like the cheapest value long-haul destination to fly to. And towards India, Air India Express continues its reign as the best great value airline to fly to that part of the world. Flying out on Thursday, Wednesday, 15th of September 2010 will prove to be more expensive that any other day, as most people would want to start their holiday at the break of the weekend. If you can fly out on Friday, 10th of September or Saturday, 11th of September, you can save a couple of Rials. Lastly, flying on a low-cost airline such as Flydubai, Air India Express or Air Arabia can get you a better value than a full-service airline. And it goes without saying that the fares will rise as we get closer to Eid.

These airfares apply on a single adult, return journey from Muscat and are inclusive of all taxes and surcharges. They are valid as of 26 August 2010, 1pm – Oman time.

Journey dates: outbound – Thursday, 9th of September 2010 and inbound – Wednesday, 15th of September 2010, unless mentioned next to the itinerary. All journeys are non-stop, unless indicated.

Let’s roll with the fares.

1.    Cochin: MCT-COK-MCT: 194 Rials on Jet Airways.

2.    Mumbai: MCT-MUM-MCT: 131 Rials on Air India.

3.    Trivandrum: MCT-TRV-MCT: 196 Rials on Jet Airways. 176 Rials on Air India Express if outbound: Friday, 10th of September 2010 and inbound: Thursday, 16th of September 2010.

4.    Calicut/Kozhikode: MCT-CCJ-MCT: 142 Rials on Air India Express.

5.   Delhi: MCT-DEL-MCT: 140 Rials on Air India Express. 134 Rials on Gulf Air with layover and change of aircraft at Bahrain.

6.    Mangalore: MCY-IXE-MCT: 184.5 Rials on Air India Express, if outbound: Friday, 10th of September 2010 and inbound: Thursday, 16th of September 2010.

7.    Dubai: MCT-DXB-MCT: 38 Rials on Flydubai.

8.    Bangkok: MCT-BKK-MCT: 153 Rials on Qatar Airways with a layover in Doha & change of aircraft in Doha.

9.   Kuala Lumpur: MCT-KUL-MCT: 241 Rials on Qatar Airways with a layover & change of aircraft in Doha.

10.   London Heathrow: MCT-LHR-MCT: 259 Rials on British Airways with stopover at Abu Dhabi, no aircraft change.

11.    Amman: MCT-AMM-MCT: 209.860 Rials on Flydubai with layover and change of aircraft at Dubai.

12.    Cairo: MCT-CAI-MCT: 232 Rials on Emirates with layover and change of aircraft at Dubai.

13.    Frankfurt: MCT-FRA-MCT: 225 Rials on Gulf Air with layover and change of aircraft at Bahrain.

14.    Colombo: MCT-CMB-MCT: 192 Rials on Emirates with layover and change of aircraft at Dubai.

15.    Kathmandu: MCT-KTM-MCT: 123.700 Rials on Oman Air, if outbound: Thursday, 9th of September 2010 and inbound: Thursday, 16th of September 2010.

To get these offers, visit the respective airline website, check with your travel agent or head to Expedia.  Please note that air fares of Oman Air, Air India Express &  Flydubai are not listed on Expedia.

The best cabin crew uniform in Indian skies August 17, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Advertising, Aviation, Branding, India, Marketing, Travel.
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Close on the heels of JetLite unveiling their new cabin crew uniforms, IndiGo has decided to go for the PanAm designer look and shake up the skies.

Let’s have a fun contest today to find out the best cabin crew uniform in the Indian skies.

Who looks the sizzling best? Feel free to vote for your favorite airline uniform in the poll that follows the pictures. I pick Jet Airways.

* (Apologies for the ‘poor’ GoAir pic! Do share if you find a better one!)

Air India / Air India Express / Indian

Jet Airways

Jet Airways

Kingfisher / Kingfisher Red

JetLite

IndiGo

SpiceJet

GoAir

Paramount Airways

Why customer feedback matters for an airport. The case study of Cochin International Airport. August 16, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Aviation, India, Marketing, Travel.
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Image credit: Shahin O.

One of the reasons I like Cochin International Airport (COK) is because of its large spaces. A lot of airports I have been to in India or in the Arabian Gulf region are bursting at the seams or are under a constant state of development.

Opened in 1999, Cochin International Airport has all the whistles and bells of a modern airport. Larger spaces. Faster check-in. A great view of the tarmac from the gates. A reasonable duty-free selection. And the airbridges, which means no bumpy rides in the bus to the plane or no getting wet in the rains. And yes, a bookshop will be open soon. I’m told that the newly opened international terminal at Trivandrum (TRV) is catching up with Cochin and I can’t wait to check it out soon.

I was recently traveling through Cochin and with a couple of hours to kill for my flight to Muscat, I chanced upon a register placed in a corner of the Departure Terminal under a board that said ‘Feedback on Airport Security’. I couldn’t help but glance through the feedback book and what I read is going to be the crux of this post.

1.    Airport security needs be more friendly.
Majority of the people complained about the cold, indifferent attitude of the airport security staff. Someone wrote: “The airport security should learn to speak proper English; English being the ‘national language’ of India.” I don’t know if the airport authorities can influence behavioral changes among the security staff. I think airport security is managed and run by CRPF, a central government agency whose functioning is outside the purview of the airport management’s control. But yes, there was almost universal criticism of their ‘customer service’ skills and their general approach to dealing with travellers. Now some of you may ask, shouldn’t their focus be on airport security than being nice to people in an age of heightened terror and security risks, but isn’t it better to have pleasant people skills no matter what your job.

2.    Please smile, Mr. Immigration Officer.
The immigration officials at the airport came under fire too. Someone had written – Can someone teach these people to smile? Or getting them to smile is like asking for the moon… something in that lines. Frequently traveling through airports in India, I know this is true. It doesn’t matter that the immigration official is probably one of the first people you come across in a new country, especially if you are a tourist. I have given up on all etiquette and polite manners when I submit my passport at Indian immigration. I give a cold stare and get a colder one back along with the stamped passport. On good days, I get the passport and boarding card flung at me. Oh why not, I’m being done a huge favor after all by this official who had to forgo his siesta at 6 in the morning to see the back of planeloads of travelers bound to the Arabian sands. This is where I admire the immigration officers at Muscat International Airport. They never forget to wish you, enquire your well-being and heartily welcome you to their country before stamping your passport.

3.    “Can Cochin Airport have a dedicated smoker’s lounge?” What really impressed me about this request was not the request itself, but the sincerity and manner in which it was expressed.
“More than 60% of travellers and tourists around the world are smokers and hence this airport should make convenient arrangements for smokers to light up in peace without going out of their minds and troubling fellow passengers.” A feedback suggestion that is always substantiated with a fact has a better chance of going through. (In this case, the ‘60%’ fact).

4.    A gentleman requested for a separate prayer room for gents as well as ladies… fair enough.

5.    A traveler to Houston made the brilliant observation regarding the absence of a single clock in the entire boarding gate area. True, there are giant screens showing flight schedules, but it would be wise to have the local time on them as well.

6.    A tech-savvy traveler requested the airport authorities to provide passengers with Worldspace Radio… a couple of them demanded a better selection of TV channels on the airport TV. I guess Asianet or Surya is not everyone’s cup of tea.

7.    One of the ultimate requests was by a couple of travellers who requested a bar in the terminal; nothing like a neat Scotch on the rocks before departure. Full marks to that. And no points for guessing that they were Malayalees.

8.    Almost everyone complained about the lack of decent dining facilities in the departure terminal and the exorbitant price of tea & coffee. A cup of coffee costs 50 rupees. (A passenger wrote that the price of coffee was more scalding than the coffee itself). And COK Airport Coffee takes the crown as one of the ultimate listless coffees I have ever had the pleasure of drinking.

9.    A passenger wrote about the how the drive-in entrance at the departures & arrival terminal wasn’t covered leading to travelers and their luggage getting drenched in the rains as they entered the terminal building. A very valid point; I came under the showers too as I was leaving COK that morning. Not a good experience to take off wet.

10.    Hidesign has a swanky outlet at the airport. I hope they are making money.

11.    Thought to end the post: I find liquor at Cochin Duty Free cheaper than Muscat Duty Free. And the last time I checked, they were giving a bottle free with every 2 bottles of Jack Daniel’s.

A couple of thoughts on Feedback:

1.    Feedback is vital.
For individuals, brands and organizations, feedback tells you what’s working right and what isn’t. Feedback is critical to customer service, product improvement, cost savings, productivity and work efficiency.

2.    Feedback matters only when it is from the right person.
So I worked on this snazzy looking marketing campaign. Getting suggestions on its look and feel from my peers isn’t as good a feedback from the customers of that product or service.

3.    Use the right tools to collect Feedback.
A complaint book at Cochin International Airport seems to a simple and old-fashioned method to collect feedback. But it is any day, a more effective and practical tool than a website form. The customer should find it convenient to share feedback and feedback collection should ideally happen at touch points where customers interact most with you.

4.    Feedback should lead to action.
Feedback is of no good if you don’t act upon it. Also, it helps to acknowledge that have you received feedback.

To conclude, do enjoy this video of an Emirates B777 landing at Cochin.


What can Steven Slater learn from a pillow fight onboard Lufthansa August 14, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Advertising, Airlines, Aviation, Conversations, Marketing, Travel.
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3 comments

Flight attendants are very much in the news these days.

This year belongs to Steven Slater, a JetBlue flight attendant who after an altercation with a passenger on an aircraft that had just landed at New York’s JFK International Airport, announced via the in-flight intercom that he was quitting his job and hurled profanities at the passenger who provoked him. He then grabbed a beer, activated the aircraft’s emergency chute and bolted off the plane.

While many are hailing Mr. Slater as a ‘working-class hero’ for standing up against an unruly customer & walking away from an ‘unpleasant’ situation, his otherwise social media-open and transparent former employer is forced to remain silent as this matter is under investigation. Mr. Slater looks certain to benefit from his newfound fame as an ‘air rager’ and there are calls for JetBlue to take him back to the skies. Personally, I believe he shouldn’t be allowed to do so.

Being a flight attendant is a tough and demanding job that requires immaculate stress management and people handling skills beyond the veneer of a smiling and glamorous exterior. Needless to say, cabin crew are the human face of the airline to the flying public. How they conduct themselves plus how they treat passengers in the skies and on the ground reflects the general service attitude of the airline to the world. 20 odd years into the job, it doesn’t bode well for me to have Mr. Slater on my flight losing his top and bolting off the aircraft like a renegade general.

Cut to the story of this inspiring Lufthansa flight attendant who is now the star of an emerging YouTube viral video titled ‘LH 687 – The endless dispute between the French and the Germans’.

A hilarious pillow flight broke out recently on a Lufthansa flight bound to Frankfurt from Tel Aviv. A German cabin crew was handing out complimentary pillows to Economy Class passengers when pillows were thrown back at her. Not one to be cowed down, she joined in the fun and threw back pillows at the passengers (a group of French tourists). In the 42-second clip, the stewardess can be seen dashing for the safety of her curtain as the hail of pillows intensifies. A passenger recorded a video of this funny pillow fight that ended with rounds of applause for the flight attendant for being a sport. The video is becoming a hit and there is overall appreciation for the flight attendant and the fliers for bringing some light-heartedness into flying.

A Lufthansa spokeswoman later said that the airline is laughing along with everyone else. “It’s an example of passengers enjoying themselves in economy class. And it shows we still offer pillows to our passengers in economy class,” she said.

The lesson to be learnt from this experience is simple. Mass brands such as airlines that come in close contact with human situations that are odd, impromptu, unpredictable or challenging need to be spontaneous, creative, positive, calm and responsive in a professional manner, on the go.

In today’s age of social media, judgments and opinions are formed and shared before corporations or brands can react. Hence, forget about controlling the message. Note the positive spin Lufthansa is giving to the whole incident. Kudos to them for this smart marketing plug in and not going for the staid and natural corporate measure of punishing the flight attendant. Today’s ‘age of social’ demands that we remain constantly on our guard displaying our best social behavior, no matter what the situation. Mr. Steven Slater and his kind can certainly learn a lot from this pillow fight onboard Lufthansa 687.