2015 has been an impressive year for the aviation industry, with many carriers pulling up their socks and vying for the all-elusive lucrative passenger. With oil-prices lower than before, airlines are snapping at the opportunity to revisit their products, launch new aircraft and impress their paying consumers. This means one thing, a better experience for premium passengers around the world. TheDesignAir does a round-up if its top 10 innovations that helped change the face of aviation in 2015.
Singapore Airlines Premium Economy
The long awaited Singapore Airlines Premium Economy entered into service this year, and was long awaited. The launch of this mid-level product from one of the world’s leading carriers has been applauded for its product at a very early stage. Custom seats with the largest IFE screen in its class is no surprise for this carrier, but what was interesting to see was the vibrant use of orange and cyan through an otherwise sophisticated grey cabin.
There are some great touches here too, including an arm rest that lowers on the aisle, to allow passengers in and out of the seat, but also to help increase seatwidth by a futher 3”. Let’s also not forget book the cook, which has already proved hugely popular, allowing passengers to pre-select a meal from a much more extensive menu.
Cathay have been busy on the ground, improving on their lounge offering, including new lounges in Tokyo, Bangkok and Manila, all designed by StudioIlse, offering a brand new luxury ‘at home’ aesthetic which is more Mad Men than corporate vacuous space.
The pride and joy for the carrier however is Cathay’s signature The Pier First Class Lounge in its home turf of Hong Kong International Airport, which apart from looking like the world’s best apartment (along with best view in the world of HKIA’s apron and runway threshold) is filled to the gills with luxury, from bars, to full service restaurants, spa area and sleeping pods, there is nothing here that doesn’t pamper the senses. Talking of which, they even have their own fragrance now.
Earlier this year LATAM knocked their new brand for six, by not only launching a wave of excellent lounges, but a whole new brand to boot, merging TAM and LAN into one super-behemoth Latin American brand. Whilst little more has been revealed than a logo, the new lounge in Santiago offers clues into what the new carrier will stand for. Cue locally sourced materials intertwined with international products.
The large space is a designer paradise, with many small alcoves to retreat and relax all centralized around a copper clad staircase that makes this two level lounge, not only large, but visually breathtaking. Coming into its own during the day, the fully stocked bars and dining counters offer excellent dining opportunities, but it’s the day beds with their fantastic views of Santiago Airport’s vista that we like to call home.
ANA Star Wars
ANA have managed to capture the hearts of Star Wars fans around the globe this year with the introduction of the first of their three ANA Star Wars Aircraft, comprising a 767, 777 and 787, the fleet of Droid aircraft have been painstakingly designed and painted to make them as true to the characters as possible.
Whilst the outside of these aircraft may look like they are from the future (or a long long time ago…) it’s the inside of the cabins that are lightyears ahead – as many Star Wars fans have already experienced. We love ANA’s interiors which are futuristic Utilitarian and quintessentially Japanese. ANA, May the force by with you.
It’s no secret that we are a fan of Finnair. Their current business class product, filled with Finnish design touches including Marrimekko prints virtually everywhere, is definitely one of the best in Europe, and for their connections over to Asia, it is a sure-fire hit. The new A350’s however have brought the carrier even more luxury, especially in the front end of the plane. Designed by dSign Vertti Kivi & Co, (the same group that brought the carrier’s uber cool Premium Lounge) the new A350’s offer even more space and privacy found in a new 1 x 2 x 1 configuration with angled herringbone seats and impressive 16” touchscreen controls. What’s more, it’s all decked out in cool off typically-Finnish white tones, meaning the mood lighting, will really come into its own on night flights.
American New Interiors
American have come into their own this year, both improving their 777, 787 and 767 products to all align to an ‘all-aisle-access’ policy in the front of the plane, with a mix of seat products, all geared to providing a fully flat seat and a more Internationally focused product. Whilst none of the products are groundbreaking (bar the Acumen Design Associates designed forward/rear facing herringbone seats on the AA 787) what is genuinely impressive is American’s relentless improvement program to ensure the world’s largest fleet of aircraft are modernized to today’s passenger expectations.
Etihad New Uniforms
This year has seen a few new threads grace the skies, such as Vueling, China Airlines and Vietnam Airlines, however the most impressive cabin crew uniforms have to be Etihad’s. Designed by Italian Haute Couturier Ettore Bilotta the new uniform cleverly merges dramatic elements of old world haute couture from 1960s Paris and Rome, with the more contemporary fashions evident on the runways of London, New York, Milan and Tokyo. To help introduce the uniforms to a global audience, the airline went all-fashion, recruiting multi-award winning, New York-based photographer Norman Jean Roy to capture a breath-taking set of images of the new collection.
Vietnam Airlines New Interiors
Another carrier that seems to be on a quantum drive of improvements is little known Vietnam Airlines. The Vietnamese SkyTeam flag carrier has always been known as an affordable way to travel South East Asia, however, the introduction of the new A350 and 787 for Vietnam Airlines has meant the carrier can completely reimagine their business and premium economy products. For the first time the carrier is offering both fully-flat beds in business class and an increased 42” in pitch in premium economy with totally new seats. The carrier has really set the stage for 2016, and it may soon become the 4-star rated carrier it is trying to become.
British Airways 787-9 First Class
British Airways recently announced their new First Class suites for the 787-9. There are key hints at a new design direction for the carrier, which seems to be celebrating quintessential British style, such as quilted seats, chrome finishes, leather in abundance and a sleek warm-toned interior, with very carefully lit details, which mimics the recent interior design trend found in luxury hotels across the UK.
Whilst it’s not as private as other first-class products, and doesn’t feature the sliding doors that Etihad, Emirates and other carriers supply their first class guests, these seats are staggered to still provide guests privacy and with fares that are much more competitive than their competitors are well priced. The herringbone seat provides BA guests with more legroom and the new design offers increased storage to passengers, taking into consideration feedback from their most frequent fliers.
China Airlines New Premium lounge, Taipei
China Airlines is increasingly getting onto passengers radars. New star-trek-esque uniforms and an impressive new 777-300ER product that has received countless mentions in the press for being excellent are just some of the improvements over the past 18 months. China Airlines NextGen program to re-inject life into itself has been nothing short of impressive. One of the elements to receive a face lift was the new lounge in Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport’s Terminal 1, situated where the larger of the two China Airlines lounge areas were.
Led by NexGen designer, Ray Chen, the design is luxurious and warm, inspired by the Song Dynasty with the conceptual use of a “southern china style garden”. The airline has worked hard to make sure they appear authentic, unique and contemporary, and no better example of how they are succeeding can be found here, right in the heart of their home.