Monthly Archive: October, 2018

Dining with Donal at 38,000ft

Virgin Atlantic unveil new partnership with Donal Skehan

We love food and drink at Virgin Atlantic. From serving unusual crisps for you to nibble on, or the trendiest of tipples’ to get you through a 12 hour flight, we really do go the extra mile to make sure your dining experience with us is a pleasurable one. So we’re really excited to announce a brand new partnership today with award winning TV chef Donal Skehan to even further enhance your experience at 38,000ft.

LA based Donal has been working with us over the past 12 months to develop a range of dishes inspired by destinations, focusing on sustainable, fresh ingredients which bring a real restaurant experience to the skies. This month new “dine with Donal” dishes will debut in our Upper Class cabins and Clubhouses, followed by Premium and Economy cabins next year. It’s been a team effort to pull the menus together, with Donal working alongside our trusted Head Chef, Babu Badhrnarayanan. This is Donal’s first airline collaboration and the dishes take inspiration from his best selling cookery books and his experiences travelling the world.

Charred cod with mango salad

Although Donal regularly cooks for celebrity guests on television programmes like BBC One’s Saturday Kitchen, today he’s been cooking up some delicious dishes for some of his toughest critics – Virgin Atlantic colleagues who’ll be making sure his food is up to scratch. So what did they think?

Among the first to sample the new menu was Suzanne Varney, a member of our cabin crew. Her favourite dish was the new sticky hoisin duck burger. “It’s succulent, delicious and hits the right spot,” she said. “I feel like I’m eating a burger that would curb my hunger but with the notion that the duck burger is extremely light. Loved it!”

Someone who has a great sense of whether dishes are going to be popular with our customers is our Heathrow Clubhouse manager Maryka Debra. Lots of customers prefer a less filling meal when they travel and in future Maryka will have no hesitation recommending her new favourite dish, the basil butter salmon with tomato and fennel salad. “It was cooked to perfection,” she said. “It tasted so fresh, and it’s a really flavourful choice for those who want something light.”

Butter chicken, a dish from the Clubhouse menu

Our tough team of tasters approved of all Donal’s dishes and we can’t wait for you to try them when you’re travelling with us.

“It’s such a pleasure working with Virgin Atlantic, as I can’t imagine any other airline that has such a right to win in this space,” Donal said about our new partnership. “Together we’re turning the industry upside down by creating stunning, delicious and healthy food at 38,000 ft.”

It’s been an exciting collaboration for everyone involved, including our vice president of customer experience Daniel Kerzner, who understands exactly what makes our travellers tick. “We continue to raise the bar by looking outside our industry

Kayak adds flight amenities data from Quicket

Kayak has announced a new partnership with which will make flight amenities data available to customers on flight search, across all the metas which fall under Booking Holdings’ Kayak unit.

Munich-based Quicket operates as a software-as-a-service provider specializing in the distribution of airline cabin configuration and added services data. It was founded in 2012 by Djois Franklin, previously of Microsoft, and travel-icon Fred Finn, who holds the Guinness World Record holder for most air miles flown.

Quicket got a big boost as a graduate of the Airbus BizLab accelerator program and has collected data on more than 23,000 aircraft flying for more than 400 airlines. The data is managed by self-learning algorithms that can associate the aircraft flying a specific route to display its cabin configuration and experiential features. This data can be exchanged via the Quicket API.

Kayak will make that Quicket data on seat dimensions, WiFi availability and other passenger experience features available on all of its portfolio of brands including KAYAK, momondo, Cheapflights, SWOODOO, checkfelix and Mundi.

Matthias Keller, chief scientist at Kayak, said:

“At Kayak, we understand how important in-flight amenities are when choosing a flight…We want to help take the guesswork out of what you get when you fly and Quicket’s data helps us do that in a seamless way.”

Djois Franklin, co-founder and CEO of QUICKET, adds:

“KAYAK can offer the perfect decision-making tool to its customers for the booking of the ideal flight, while at the same time creating the basis for attractive additional revenues in a market environment characterized by increasing competition.”

Franklin’s comment about the “attractive additional revenues” suggests that the partnership also opens up possibilities for airlines to sell ancillaries and branded fares by highlighting alternative product features available.

With this focus on revenue optimisation by better merchandising, Quicket seems to be positioning itself to compete with the likes of Routehappy by ATPCO which offers airlines a strong platform for retailing based on product features framed with rich content.

Quicket seems to be positioning itself to compete with the likes of Routehappy by ATPCO by offering airlines an opportunity to up-sell based on key experiential features by offering customisable rich content including panoramic views of the cabin interiors. There is a greater push for “live view” seating maps, with Spanish developers at Renacen earning the trust of Emirates with its 3D SeatMap VR product.

Quicket also offers a B2C mobile app to compete with the likes of AppInTheAir, with the advantage of a greater database of up-to-date aircraft cabin data. Like AppInTheAir, the Quicket traveller app allows integration with TripIt by Concur to keep planned flight itineraries up-to-date automatically.

The Quicket mobile interface also allows voice search on the Apple Watch with Siri, with plans to add search to the Samsung Gear S3. The smartphone app includes a chatbot assistant which can find flights and hotels as well as answer basic questions about ticket options, flight status and cabin configuration.

Both mobile apps offer social