The Difference between Airline Hard and Soft Products

The Difference between Airline Hard and Soft Products » Singapore Airlines

Essentially, an airline’s hard product is the plane itself, and the airline’s soft product is the service, food, and the drinks.

Hard product can also be non-airplane constituents, such as lounge amenities. Consequently, the food and drinks in the lounge is soft product, while airline lounge showers are hard products.

The real differentiation is that hard product is hard to alter (requires construction), while soft product can be changed in 5 min with a phone call. Accordingly, limo service is a soft product for the airline (and a hard product for the limo company, at least as far as the car goes). For airplanes, the actual cost of the hard product is the airplane’s downtime during fit out (often greater than the cost of the hardware being added).

Travel consultant and blogger Ben Schlappig (“Lucky”) provides a rule of thumb:

A first/business class hard product is anything physically attached to the plane, which doesn’t differ from flight to flight. For example, the seat, onboard amenities (shower, bar, etc.), size of the entertainment screen, etc.

A first/business class soft product is anything which can differ from flight to flight. For example, food, drinks, service, amenity kits, etc.

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary Protests Brexit in London with Funny Costume

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary Protests Brexit in London with Funny Costume

On Jun 23, 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU. The economic and political consequences will be significant and long lasting, and not just for the UK and the EU. The repercussions will be felt everywhere. The key concern for EasyJet and Ryanair, among a number of airlines hypothetically affected, is what will happen if the UK fails to remain part of Europe’s single market in air services when Brexit negotiations accomplish.

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary Protests Brexit in London with Funny Costume

A challenge for Ryanair is that its biggest base is in the UK, at London Stansted. Its two busiest UK routes in June this year are Dublin–Stansted and Dublin–London Gatwick.

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary Protests Brexit in London with Funny Costume

CEO Michael O’Leary was upfront, opinionated and amusing as ever today at a Bloomberg News conference where he warned that Brexit could lead to contagion. The CEO of one of Europe’s largest airlines said that he would leave that to greater minds than his—referring to his treasury administrators. He warned that the budget airline would be forced to rationalize investment if Britain votes to leave the EU.

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary Protests Brexit in London with Funny Costume

Appearing on a platform with British chancellor George Osborne at Stansted Airport, Mr O’Leary spoke that inward investment will be lost to participant EU member states such as Ireland and Germany if Britain votes for Brexit. O’Leary said,

It is this type of large-scale foreign inward investment that is helping to drive the UK economy and job creation. It is exactly this type of investment that will be lost to other competitor EU members if the UK votes to leave the European Union. The single market has enabled Ryanair to lead the low-fare air travel revolution in Europe, as we bring millions of British citizens to Europe each year, and welcome millions of European visitors to Britain, and we are calling on everyone to turn out in large numbers and vote remain.

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary Protests Brexit in London with Funny Costume

Brexit may result in Ryanair’s formation of UK subsidiary. Ryanair has reported it may create a new subsidiary to operate UK domestic flights if a “hard Brexit” happens, the company said. Under the worst outcome, the UK would be forced to leave the European open-skies system as it exits the EU, which would thwart Ryanair as a European carrier from remaining to operate routes from London to Belfast, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary Protests Brexit in London with Funny Costume

It would then need to establish a separate UK company, of which Ryanair would be able to own a maximum of 49.9 percent. If the UK continues part of the open-skies area, the company said it forecasts no change in the ownership structures of Ryanair or UK carriers. Ryanair said airlines have been invited to a round table discussion organized by the government department charged with navigating the UK’s exit from the EU to discuss the impact this will have on their sector.

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary Protests Brexit in London with Funny Costume

Ryanair has stepped up warnings that flights between the UK and Europe are jeopardized by Brexit, with the airline’s chief executive Michael O’Leary claiming that the prospect of upsetting aviation was one of the quickest and best ways for the EU27 to “stick it to the British”.

If Britain votes to leave it will be damaging for the UK economy and the European economy for the next two or three years … there’ll be huge uncertainty while Britain tries to negotiate an exit out of a single market and tries to replace that with a whole series of trade deals which they won’t get done … yet staying in is the way forward the British economy is performing fundamentally well at the moment … unemployment is low … the economy’s doing well … it’s one of the most competitive economies in Europe … this is the time to stay in and continue to benefit from European membership not leave now.

We speak as Britain’s largest airline we carry 40 million passengers to and from the UK this year we’re also a large foreign in word investor here in the UK I fly from 2060 British airports I employ more than three thousand pilots, cabin crew, and engineers and I want to keep investing in Britain I want to keep growing the business here in Britain but I can only do that if Britain remains a member of the European Union.

Were they not want to leave not just European Union but also the single market we may not be able to free to fly anymore between the UK and Europe as an Irish airline … now of course the UK is part of the European Union … it’s not part of the euro and the single currency … Ireland of course is there’s lots of criticisms about the future of the euro if it can survive in its current form overall has Ireland benefited from being a part of the single currency can the single currency survive as it is I think overall iron has benefits usually by being a member the single currency I think the single currency will survive because the strongest economy in Europe … Germany is behind the euro and I think they’ll do whatever needs to be done to make sure it does survive but there does need to be more harmonization between the outer relying countries the Greeks, the Italians, the Spanish, and the Irish who have suffered real economic problems in recent years as a result of very low interest rates and … you know property bubbles … but that’s why I a single market needs reform we’ve been very critical of Brussels and over-regulation and I think why this election will bring about more reform in Brussels as long as Britain votes to stay in.

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary Protests Brexit in London with Funny Costume

Ryanair’s Exclusive Corporate Jet with Boeing 737-700 Charter Service

Ryanair's Exclusive Corporate Jet with Boeing 737-700 Charter Service

Ireland’s ultra low cost carrier Ryanair has converted its only B737-700 aircraft (registration EI-SEV) to a corporate jet with 60 seats in the cabin. The aircraft is now is a 2 x 2 configuration. The specifications are:

  • 60 passengers, all business class,
  • Seats: 2 x 2 seating with 48″ seat pitch, leather reclining seats
  • Crew: Ryanair’s pilot and cabin crew
  • Range: 3000 nm range, 6 hours at 500 mph cruise speed
  • Catering: available

Previously, this aircraft already in complete Ryanair livery, was used for training, and may have it has covered a couple of scheduled services. Perhaps the aircraft will be in demand when soccer teams have to play in far-flung eastern European destinations. Ryanair also aims it at sports teams, travel groups as well as business customers. Ryanair will price the services of this aircraft on a cost-per-hour basis, and depending on the departure and arrival airports, the rates could be the most competitive in Europe.

Ryanair’s corporate jet charter is akin to similar services offered by Korean Air (16 or 28-seat 737 Business Jet), Emirates (19-seat A319 Executive Jet) and Qatar Airways (40-seat A319.)

For the summer season, the Boeing 737 corporate jet will be used as a normal passenger aircraft with 149 seats for training and as a backup aircraft for routes between the UK and Ireland.

Ryanair exclusively flies Boeing 737-800 aircraft, of which 320 are in service and 153 in orders, as on 10-Mar-2016. Ryanair is also the launch for the 197-seater Boeing 737 MAX 200 aircraft with options for an additional 100 aircraft of this subtype—all to be delivered between 2019 and 2023. The MAX 200 aircrafts hold eight more passengers than the popular Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. This subtype includes a mid-exit door to increase the exit limit. With eight additional seats than the standard 179-seater MAX 8, Boeing claims that the MAX 200 airplane offers 20% superior operating cost efficiency in comparison to the Ryanair’s staple, the 737-800. The front and rear galley spaces are removed and the lavatory space is repositioned to the rear of the aircraft. Surprisingly, Ryanair claims that the seat pitch will stretch to a tad over than 30 inches.

Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s CEO, had been pushing for a maximum-density 737-800 aircraft for ten years. Beyond 200 seats, Ryanair will need a fourth flight attendant on its aircraft. Although Boeing claims that 35% of the worldwide market demand for single-aisle aircraft will in due course lie with low cost carriers (LCCs,) for which the MAX 200 is intended, Ryanair is the sole customer thus far for the Boeing 737 MAX 200. News emerged in March 2015 that Boeing was presenting some airlines with concept of 737-8ERX, a longer-range version of the 737-8 MAX.

Ryanair owns three Learjet 45 aircrafts, which are based at its prominent bases in London Stansted (STN) Airport and Italy’s Bergamo Airport (BGY, 45 km northeast of Milan.) These aircrafts carry Isle of Man registrations M-ABEU, M-ABGV, and M-ABJA. They are primarily used to rapidly transport aircraft parts and maintenance personnel around Ryanair’s ever-expanding network. The number of aircrafts in order is testimony to the ambition of Ryanair to accelerate its traffic growth modestly. Ever since transforming in the LCC paradigm in the mid 1990s, Ryanair has mostly operated a single aircraft type, thereby providing economies of scale and flexibility in terms of aircraft deployment, maintenance, crew scheduling, and training.

Ryanair has unit costs that are lowest of any European airline and one of the lowest of any airline on the planet. Ryanair has a level of unit cost that is unlikely to be equaled by competitors in Europe and so other airlines are doubtful to be able to contend with it on price.

Ex-Google’s Marissa Mayer on Nine Principles of Innovation

The last decade’s most remarkable business story has been the rise of Google as a dominant force in computing. Whenever a company becomes wildly successful in a brief span of time, it naturally becomes an object of fascination for corporate executives and even the general public.

Marissa Mayer on CreativityMarissa Mayer, then Vice-President for Search Products and User Experience at Google, and presently CEO of Yahoo, shared nine guiding principles of innovation that have helped her succeed with Fast Company:

  1. Innovation, Not Instant Perfection. “The Googly thing is to launch it early on Google Labs and then iterate, learning what the market wants—and making it great. … The beauty of experimenting in this way is that you never get too far from what the market wants. The market pulls you back.
  2. Ideas Come from Everywhere. “We have this great internal list where people post new ideas and everyone can go on and see them.
  3. A License to Pursue Your Dreams. “We let engineers spend 20% of their time working on whatever they want, and we trust that they’ll build interesting things.
  4. Morph Projects Don’t Kill Them. “Any project that is good enough to make it to Labs probably has a kernel of something interesting in there somewhere, even if the market doesn’t respond to it. It’s our job to take the product and morph it into something that the market needs.
  5. Share as Much Information as You Can. “People are blown away by the information you can get on MOMA, our intranet. Because there is so much information shared across the company, employees have insight into what’s happening with the business and what’s important. … It allows us to share what we know across the whole company, and it reduces duplication.
  6. Users, Users, Users. “In a truly virtual business, if you’re successful, you’ll be working at something that’s so necessary people will pay for it in subscription form. Or you’ll have so many users that advertisers will pay to sponsor the site.
  7. 'The Google Guys: Inside the Brilliant Minds of Google Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin' by Richard L. Brandt (ISBN 1591844126) Data is Apolitical. “Run a test on 1% of the audience and whichever design does best against the user-happiness metrics over a two-week period is the one we launch. … We probably have somewhere between 50 and 100 experiments running on live traffic, everything from the default number of results to underlined links to how big an arrow should be. We’re trying all those different things.
  8. Creativity Loves Constraints. “People think of creativity as this sort of unbridled thing, but engineers thrive on constraints. They love to think their way out of that little box: ‘We know you said it was impossible, but we’re going to do this, this, and that to get us there.’
  9. You’re Brilliant? We’re Hiring. “There is this amazing element to the culture of wanting to work on big problems that matter, wanting to do great things for the world, believing that we can build a successful business without compromising our standards and values.

How Google Fuels its Innovation Factory

  1. Innovation, not instant perfection.: Google launches early and often in small beta tests, before releasing new features widely
  2. Ideas come from everywhere.: Google expects everyone to innovate, even the finance team
  3. A license to pursue dreams.: Employees get a “free” day a week. Half of new launches come from this “20% time
  4. Don’t kill projects—morph them.: There’s always a kernel of something good that can be salvaged
  5. Share everything you can.: Every idea, every project, every deadline—it’s all accessible to everyone on the intranet
  6. Worry about usage and users, not money.: Provide something simple to use and easy to love. The money will follow.
  7. Don’t politic, use data.: Mayer discourages the use of “I like” in meetings, pushing staffers to use metrics
  8. Creativity loves restraint.: Give people a vision, rules about how to get there, and deadlines
  9. You’re brilliant, we’re hiring.: Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin approve hires. They favor intelligence over experience

Thai Airways Gives out Rimowa Amenity Kits in its Royal First Class

Thai Airways gives out Rimowa Amenity Kits in its Royal First Class. Rimowa is a German manufacturer of aluminum as well as polycarbonate luggage. The dimensions of the plastic carry case are: 4″ x 7″ x 2.5″. The amenity kit consists of,

  • L’Occitane Cologne
  • L’Occitane Moisturiser
  • L’Occitane Lip Balm
  • Dental Kit with Fluocaril Toothpaste from Thailand
  • Mouthwash
  • Earplugs
  • Eyeshade
  • Comfort Socks
  • Comb & Brush

Thai Airways Rimowa Amenity Kits: Example Set 1

Rimowa Amenity Kits from Thai Airways's Royal First Class - Neptune Blue

Rimowa Amenity Kits from Thai Airways's Royal First Class - Neptune Blue

Rimowa Amenity Kits from Thai Airways's Royal First Class - Neptune Blue

Rimowa Amenity Kits from Thai Airways's Royal First Class - Neptune Blue

Rimowa Amenity Kits from Thai Airways's Royal First Class - Neptune Blue

Rimowa Amenity Kits from Thai Airways's Royal First Class - Neptune Blue

Other airlines that seem to hand out Rimowa Amenity Kits in business and first classes include ANA, EVA, and Lufthansa—curiously all part of the STAR Alliance.

Thai Airways Rimowa Amenity Kits: Example Set 2

Rimowa Amenity Kits from Thai Airways's Royal First Class - Amber Color

Rimowa Amenity Kits from Thai Airways's Royal First Class - Amber Color

Rimowa Amenity Kits from Thai Airways's Royal First Class - Amber Color

Rimowa Amenity Kits from Thai Airways's Royal First Class - Amber Color

Rimowa Amenity Kits from Thai Airways's Royal First Class - Amber Color

Rimowa Amenity Kits from Thai Airways's Royal First Class - Amber Color

United Club Shower: Chicago’s O’Hare Airport (ORD) Terminal 1, Concourse C

United Club Chicago's O'Hare Airport (ORD) Terminal 1, Concourse C

Chicago is a very large metropolitan area that supports a lot of international and domestic visitors. Chicago’s O’Hare Airport (ORD) is one of the few major airports in the world that is a primary hub for two carriers. The only other airport in the US where that is true is John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York City.

Toiletries at United Club Shower

United Club Shower at Chicago's O'Hare Airport

United Club at Chicago's O'Hare Airport

Both United Airlines and American Airlines battle for passengers at the airport—both have noteworthy O&D traffic as well as being a primary connecting point for passengers from other parts of their network.

United Club Shower Area at Chicago's O'Hare Airport

United Club Shower Area at Terminal 1, Concourse C

Bath Towels United Club Shower Area

Visiting the Boeing Renton 737 Plant

Visiting the Boeing Renton 737 Plant

Boeing Renton Plant from Logan Avenue and Park Street

Boeing does not offer any tours of its Renton, Washington factory where, most prominently, Next-Generation Boeing 737 airliners are built today, and the Boeing 737-MAX will be built in the near future.

Boeing has had the following operations at the Renton plant, which is conveniently adjacent to the Renton Municipal Airport.

  • The Renton factory built B-29 Superfortress, a four-engine propeller-driven heavy bomber.
  • After the second world war Boeing closed the Renton plant. In 1948, Boeing re-opened the Renton facilities to build the Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter for the United States Air Force.
  • Starting from the 1950s, the Boeing 367-80 and the Boeing 707 were built in Renton. The first production Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker first flew in August 1956 and the first production Boeing 707 rolled out of Renton in October 1957. Boeing produced 707s until April 1991.
  • Boeing also used the Boeing 707 final assembly building to manufacture the Boeing 727 three-engined aircraft between 1963 and 1982.
  • The Boeing 737 aircrafts built have their first flight out of the adjacent Renton Municipal Airport and then flown to Boeing Field for final preparation and delivery. Randy Tinseth, Vice President of Marketing at Boeing Commercial Airplanes offers great photo gallery flashback to celebrate the 737’s past, present and future.
  • The Renton plant refurbished the first four 747s ever built.
  • The Renton plant built Boeing 757, the revered twin-engine short-to-medium-range airliner.

Glimpse of Boeing Renton Plant from Cedar River Path

Visiting the Boeing Renton Plant: Cedar River Path & Logan Avenue

Google Maps for Boeing Renton 737 Plant: Cedar River

If you sincerely just want to glimpse at the plant itself, you can see it acceptably from Logan Avenue right outside of The Landing Mall. At the intersection of Logan Avenue and Park Street (map), if you cross the street there is a small grassy area right where Gate D-9 is.

Google Maps for Boeing Renton 737 Plant: Logan Avenue

There’s also a jogging / walking path along the Cedar River near the Renton Stadium where you can get pretty close to some parked 737s in various stages of manufacturing. The GPS coordinates are 47.49029,-122.211635.

Visiting Other Boeing Facilities in and around Seattle

Comical Tote Bag from India’s IndiGo Airlines

IndiGo Airlines from India

IndiGo Airlines is India’s largest airline. IndiGo operates a low cost carrier and operates 400 daily flights connecting 36 cities in India and outside using Airbus A320 aircraft.

Indigo Airlines Tote Bag - A320 Safety Instruction Card

Indigo Airlines Tote Bag - A320 Emergency Procedures

IndiGo’s comical tote bag reproduces IndiGo’s inflight safety card. The tote bag features a comic character of an Indian gentleman in traditional garb, sporting a moustache, and a tilak / bindi (the customary forehead decoration.)

Indigo Airlines Tote Bag - Life Vest for Flotation

Indigo Airlines Tote Bag - Inflatable Evacuation Slides

On one corner of the tote bag, the gentleman seems clueless on what to do, but assumedly learns how to fasten his seat belt, fold the tray table, abide by safety instructions, blow into his safety vest, and help his kid wear an oxygen mask after he has worn his own. Specifications:

  • Width: 16+5/8 inch
  • Height: 14+1/2 inch

Indigo Airlines Tote Bag - Clueless Funny Indian Man

Indigo Airlines Tote Bag - Facsimile of Safety Card

Despite only entering the market about than eight years ago in Aug-2006, IndiGo has rapidly soared up the ranks to become the largest domestic carrier, overtaking Jet Airways and Air India on the way. Over the longer term, IndiGo plans to dedicate 20% of its total capacity to the international sector.

Indigo Airlines Tote Bag - Indian Budget LCC Airline

Recently, Airbus and IndiGo annouced that IndiGo had ordered 250 A320neo aircrafts. IndiGo presently has more than 500 A320 aircrafts on order. Aviation analysts suspect IndiGo as one of those airlines that might be over-ordering aircraft.

Southwest Airlines’ Brilliant Marketing

Southwest Airlines' Brilliant Marketing

More than anything, Southwest Airlines deserves credit for its exceptional marketing strategy. For decades, Southwest Airlines has convinced American consumers that it have the lowest fares, which is hardly ever the case. Southwest’s average fares have outpaced the industry by 12% since 2009.

Nevertheless, I hear repeatedly “I need a cheap last minute ticket; I suppose I’ll try Southwest Airlines.” Being able to create that perception among consumers is invaluable.

Southwest Airlines began service in June 1971 with the objective of stimulating demand through low fares and, in forty years, has become the largest domestic airline in the United States. Southwest Airlines used to be cheaper when they first started out but currently many of their flights cost more than the other airlines. Many attentive customers do not consider Southwest Airlines a discount airline anymore.

Southwest Airlines gained a low-cost advantage by flying one aircraft type on a point-to-point network to less congested secondary airports. This enabled the airline to maximize aircraft utilization and employee productivity. It’s simple fare structure allowed customers to purchase and alter their travel plans more easily than with legacy carriers. Another distinctive competitive advantage that Southwest enjoyed for years was a hedged fuel position that was the envy of the industry. Over the last decade, Southwest has lost this particular cost advantage, and has generated results that have more closely mimicked those of legacy carriers.

Southwest Airlines No Longer Low-Cost Airline

Moreover, Southwest is no longer the lowest-cost provider that it used to be, even not including fuel costs, as measured by costs per available seat mile excluding fuel expenses. Competition and surging fuel prices proved that Southwest’s low-cost advantages were merely temporary. Over the years, competitors like Alaska Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Allegiant, and JetBlue have entered the fray and mimicked this strategy.

Over the last decade, three distinctive business models have emerged in the US airline industry: (1) global network airlines, (2) hybrid airlines, and (3) ultra low-cost airlines. Southwest Airlines has purposely avoided identifying itself with a specific strategy. Instead, the airline has chosen to persist amplifying its maverick low-fare image.

Southwest Airlines revealed a modern new look

Southwest Airlines revealed a modern new look and logo on Monday. Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines CEO said, “our collective heartbeat is stronger and healthier than ever, and that’s because of the warmth, the compassion, and the smiles of our People … The Heart emblazoned on our aircraft, and within our new look, symbolizes our commitment that we’ll remain true to our core values as we set our sights on the future.”

Airbus A340 Passenger Compartment Cross-section: Typical Seat Configurations

The Airbus A340 is a long-range four-engine wide-body commercial passenger jet airliner manufactured by European aircraft company Airbus. The A340 aircraft was designed concurrently with the Airbus A330, a medium-range twin-engine wide-body similar in design. The four-engine A340 was built for long-haul, trans-oceanic routes due to its immunity from ETOPS. Over the years, the dramatic improvement in the reliability of jet engines, rising cost of jet fuel, and elevated maintenance costs of four engines vis-a-vis two engines led to the economic attractiveness of the twin-jet Airbus A330 and the twin-jet Boeing 777 aircraft. Eventually, Airbus stopped offering the A340 in 2011 due to the dearth of new orders.

Typical 6-Abreast Seat Configuration in First Class

A340 Passenger Compartment Cross-section in First Class: Typical 6-Abreast Seat Configuration

Typical 6-Abreast Seat Configuration in Business Class

A340 Passenger Compartment Cross-section in Business Class: Typical 6-Abreast Seat Configuration

Typical 8-Abreast Seat Configuration in Economy Class

A340 Passenger Compartment Cross-section in Economy Class: Typical 8-Abreast Seat Configuration