Industry Analysis

Levelling up – how airlines are upping their game to deliver new world-class experiences to passengers

Written by Steve Lambert, Editorial and Digital Content Manager at Templemere PR

Levelling up – how airlines are upping their game to deliver new world-class experiences to passengers

As the aviation industry continues on its road to recovery, one of the many challenges facing airlines is the need to carefully balance budgets while simultaneously delivering first-rate travel experiences to returning passengers.

With a number of airlines downsizing both fleets and crew numbers in the wake of COVID, agile solutions will be required to provide superior in-flight customer service in spite of operational constraints. But as the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of all invention, and airlines have been busy updating their cabins and on-board facilities to meet new demands from travellers.

Here’s our predictions on the next steps airlines will take to enhance the passenger experience in the post-pandemic world.

Narrow-body aircraft, open-minded cabin design

The popularity of narrow-body aircraft is on the rise, with managing consulting firm Oliver Wyman forecasting more airlines will adopt this model as a result of reduced post-COVID passenger numbers and growing demand for smaller, more fuel-efficient and sustainable aircraft. With less passenger capacity on these aircraft compared to their wide-body counterparts, we expect to see more cabin designers getting creative to maximise comfort and quality in a limited space. Recent examples include Airbus’ new ‘Airspace by Airbus’ narrow-body concept recently introduced on JetBlue flights. The design includes features such as slimmer sidewall panels to offer extra shoulder room to seated passengers.

Taking a digital-first approach

Airline cabins will undergo a digital revolution in order to provide a seamless and connected experience to passengers, who now expect this to be offered as standard on flights. A report from Valour Consultancy predicts nearly three quarters of narrow-body aircraft will offer wireless in-flight entertainment by 2030, giving travellers the option to relax and de-stress with on-demand movies and TV shows on wireless devices.

New digital apps offering a more personalised customer experience will also become more prevalent, opening new revenue and data capture opportunities for airlines. One recent example is Aeroméxico, which is providing a revamped mobile app and multilingual Facebook messenger bot offering flight information and answers to questions for registered users.

Health and hygiene to the fore

In its ‘The Return Journey’ study, travel experience experts Collinson found 88% of travellers now want to see visible health and hygiene measures in place during their journey from the airport. Additionally, 84% of passengers are concerned about the toll of travelling on their mental health. This extends to the flight itself, and we expect these concerns will lead to significant changes in airline cabins to prioritise the wellbeing of passengers. Airbus’ new Airspace concept may provide an early look at what’s to come, with updates including toilets with new touchless features for flushing, taps and toilet lids and customisable LED lighting that helps to fight jetlag.

Industry Analysis