TUI to launch in-flight iPad trials this summer

TUI UK & Ireland, which operates the Thomson and First Choice brands, has announced that it will launch an in-flight iPad trial in the summer for Thomson Airways crew at its Luton Airport base.

The move comes after TUI UK & Ireland successfully introduced a multi-million pound technology programme across its entire overseas network.

Part of the TUInnovate programme, the iPad project seeks to enhance customer satisfaction and differentiate TUI UK & Ireland’s experience for customers. With the iPad project, cabin crew will have access to information about the customers’ destination and can make recommendations about the best excursions for their party, restaurants and places to shop. The crew will also have access to customers’ historic booking information, helping them to recognise loyal and returning customers and provide a more personal service.

The iPads will also enable TUI UK & Ireland to connect its cabin crew with overseas holiday advisors, passing on any and all relevant information on customers who are set to arrive at the resort.

Carl Gissing, Director of Customer Service for Thomson Airways, said: ‘This programme will really help us take our customer service to the next level as cabin crew will be able to make recommendations to customers about what to see and do in resort, and even suggest a quiet spot to enjoy a sunset.

It will also allow us to recognise loyal and returning customers, which we know they will appreciate. This programme is just one of many ways in which we as a business are focusing on innovation and we can’t wait for all our customers travelling from Luton this summer to experience the benefits it offers.’

Following the introduction of iPads, TUI UK & Ireland has reportedly received impressive feedback from overseas employees and customers with an increase in customer satisfaction questionnaire (CSQ) results overall, particularly for ‘Holiday Overall’ scores.

Following the trial, Thomson Airways will roll the programme out across all UK Airport bases in 2015.


Oneworld offers round-the-world bookings via tablets

Oneworld has begun offering booking facilities for multi-airline round-the-world trips via digital tablets – and is the first airline alliance to do so.

The move comes as part of a series of upgrades to the alliance’s online booking engine for its flagship Oneworld Explorer service. The scheme allows passengers to book flights on any of Oneworld’s member airlines or affiliates and is available for flights in Economy Class, Premium Economy where available, Business Class or First Class. In total, the alliance services almost a thousand destinations in 150 countries.

The online booking engine is now clained to be easier to use and enables compatibility with the iPad and Android-powered tablet devices. The service is also available for desktop and laptop computers.

oneworld vice-president Commercial, Stephen Usery, said: ‘oneworld was the first alliance – and indeed the first in the travel industry – to offer multi-airline round-the-world tickets for sale online with the launch of our original booking engine five years ago. Now we are the first to offer the facility via tablets – which are increasingly the computers of choice for the frequent international travellers who are oneworld’s prime target market.’

Oneworld Explorer round-the-world booking charges are based on the number of continents visited (three to six), instead of the usual criteria of mileage flown, making travel planning simpler. Customers can simply type a city name or click on destinations displayed on an interactive map. The system will automatically check for flight availability on selected routes and dates, and display the results. The price for the trip is instantly quoted.

On deciding the itinerary, which may cover up to 16 sectors, customers can save and print out all the details. The e-tickets for the entire trip are then sent to the customer by email.

The only alliance with a carrier based in Australia, Qantas, oneworld is set to expand its global reach with the addition of Qatar Airways and a member based in the Indian subcontinent, SriLankan Airlines. Other members include the Latin American airline group, LAN, and soon its LATAM Airlines Group partner, TAM, as well as Russia’s S7. American Airlines, British Airways, airberlin, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Royal Jordanian and some 30 affiliates are also part of the alliance.

oneworld developed the on-line booking engine in association with Innovata, a travel report company, and Amadeus, the global distribution system, which also supports nine of oneworld’s airlines.

New Kindle is ideal for travelling

Amazon’s Kindle range has now expanded beyond simple e-book readers and entered the territory of full tablets. The latest Kindle Fire models show that Amazon is keen to take on rivals such as Apple in this competitive area of the market.

The original Kindle range became a popular choice for travellers since it allowed them to take their entire library of books with them on holiday without relying on any physical copies.

Now the Kindle Fire HD has arrived, almost a year after the introduction of the first Kindle Fire, allowing UK customers to experience what the device has to offer at first hand.

The Kindle Fire HD comes in two models: a seven-inch edition and a larger 8.9-inch iteration. Both screens support high-definition resolutions for quality movie playback and a fast TI OMAP 4470 processor gives them the power to run apps, games and a wide variety of media files without any problems.

Since these are Kindle products you can still read all of your e-books, but the use of full-colour touchscreen displays means that they are suitable for much more than the written word. In fact, magazines, comics and other publications are really brought to life on this device.

You can browse the web, stream video and take advantage of the improved Wi-Fi connectivity which is helping to make the Kindle Fire HD range a popular new travel accessory.

It runs on the Android operating system but Amazon has added its own user interface to make sure that you can easily access new content. It is also taking the sensible step of keeping the price of the Kindle Fire HD very low, with the base model available at just £129.

Justin Young of Tech website Gimmitech said, “The Kindle Fire range provides a compelling alternative to the iPad and the Google Nexus 7 which should give travellers a new way to stay entertained while on the move”.

Business Travellers Prefer Tablets to Laptops while on the Move

Business travellers from the UK are opting to travel with more than one type of device to keep them connected with their work environment.

A recent survey of UK business travellers by Four Points by Sheraton hotel brand, revealed an increased use of tablet devices such as iPads on business trips, instead of laptops.

The hotel brand surveyed 1,000 business travellers in six markets, the UK, Germany, US, China, India and Brazil, and has reported that 67 percent of UK travellers prefer to carry tablets rather than laptops when taking a business trip.

The research also suggested that around 73 percent of British travellers believe that technology definitely makes their travelling on business much simpler and more convenient, as was the case with 60 percent of business travellers surveyed worldwide.

British travellers also use their devices more for web browsing and social networking than those in other countries. 89 percent of UK respondents said this was their primary use of mobile technology, compared to an overall average of 75 percent.

Almost 67 percent of business travellers use video chat or conferencing to converse with family and friends, while around 47 percent of the respondents only use a telephone to make a call, and 37 percent use text messaging.

Brian McGuinness, the senior vice president of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, the parent company of Four Points by Sheraton, said, ‘The Four Points study contains compelling results, including evidence that trends such as staying in touch with family via video chat – preferred even over email, text and phone – are accelerating.

While hotel business centres remain important, the study affirms that the Four Points brand is meeting a continued need by offering complimentary Wi-Fi or in-room internet access, and by continuing to expand bandwidth throughout the portfolio.’

Free iPads to be provided in flight for Qantas customers

Taking in-flight entertainment to new levels, Qantas, the flag carrier of Australia, has announced that it will provide its customers with free iPads on selected routes.

Customers will be able to use the iPad devices to access their choice of content from a menu that will be available during the flight. The airline said that it would offer the iPads without any extra charge on its B767 aircraft. The wireless QStreaming in-flight entertainment service may be accessed for free by users via the iPads in both the economy and business class areas of the aircraft. The service is to be offered only on selected flights. The company said that it had already fitted a B767-300 aircraft with the technology needed to support the initiative. More flights would be fitted with the required infrastructure in 2012.

Similar services are also being offered by sister airline, Jetstar, but on Jetstar flights a fee is charged for the iPad. While Jetstar offers iPads that are pre-loaded with content, Qantas will stream its content using WiFi. The airline said that its central server holds content that is ’18 times the storage capacity of a 64GB tablet.’ This means that customers will be able to enjoy 200 hours of TV and audio programmes while flying.

The air carrier also has plans to upgrade the technology so that customers will be able to tap into the content using their own smart phone, tablet or laptop. The first aircraft to offer the service will predominantly operate on east coast routes as well as services to Perth.