British Airways leads in innovation

Courtesy Getty Images

Courtesy Getty Images

British Airways (BA) is set to become a leader in innovation in the business of flying. It has already obtained clearance from the Civil Aviation Authority to allow passengers extended use of its entertainment system, from the moment they take their seat on boarding to aircraft landing and arriving at the gate in some cases. So, there is less the frustration of being cut-off mid-stream when watching a movie and that anxious wait to hit the start button. (See British Airways scores with gate-to-gate in-flight entertainment, Nov 29, 2012)

BA is also set to be the first European airline to allow passengers to witch on their mobile devices just after landing instead of waiting for the plane to come to a complete stop – although some airlines outside the European Union have already allowed this. No big deal, you might say, but judging by the number of travellers who so quickly jump to activating their mobile phones as soon as it is permissible, this matters in no small way. “Now they’ll have that extra time to phone ahead for that important business meeting, check their emails, or make sure someone is there to meet them at the airport,” said BA flight training manager Ian Pringle. I once sat beside a man who could not wait to call home to have his meal prepared just in time for his arrival.

However, restrictions during take-off will for now continue to be enforced.

Courtesy British Airways

Courtesy British Airways

The latest innovative idea to come from BA may be said to be a natural development from the electronic boarding pass. The airline announced plans to introduce electronic luggage tags, whereby the tag may be retrieved from a passenger’s smartphone using data from the airline app upon digital check-in. The procedure is yet to be tested, and if all goes well, it is another step in paperless travel for the technologically savvy come next year.

It is all about keeping up with the times and introducing procedures and processes to suit today’s new generation of travellers. Airlines such as Singapore Airlines (SIA) have enjoyed a competitive edge over their rivals by being ahead in the innovative department, but technology moves so fast in an ever changing landscape of customer preferences that this has become an ongoing challenge.

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About David Leo
David Leo has more than 30 years of aviation experience, having served in senior management in one of the world's best airlines and airports. He continues to maintain a keen interest in the business, writes freelance and provides consultancy services in the field.

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