Welcoming wellness in the cabin
This is a special feature from PAX International's April World Travel Catering and Onboard Services Hamburg 2020 edition.
For many passengers today, the complimentary expectations of their class cabin, such as pillow, snack and eye mask, no longer cut it when it comes to inflight wellbeing. Whether its sustainability concerns, special dietary requests, flying-related anxiety and restlessness on extra-long-haul flights, like those planned by Qantas Airways, suppliers are coming up with interesting and effective solutions to help airlines increase passenger wellbeing while cruising through the clouds.
Rest and relaxation
WESSCO International has noticed an increase in collaborations with wellness experts, particularly in the areas of rest, nutrition, health and fitness, and the company expects to see significant growth in these areas in the next few years.
“Carriers are looking for smart materials and ergonomically designed products that offer superior comfort while minimizing carbon footprint,” WESSCO International Chief Marketing Officer Petros Sakkis tells PAX International. “It is about a positive travel experience and arriving at the final destination well-rested and refreshed.”
According to WESSCO, passenger wellness encompasses all aspects the cabin environment, staff service, dining, inflight entertainment, amenities and gadgets provided onboard, but the company has been very active in cabin bedding in recent years.
The Casper bedding program by WESSCO for American Airlines brought years of sleep research to air travel through extensive prototype development and testing by sleep engineers. With its bedding partner Octaspring, WESSCO supplies sustainable cabin mattresses with proprietary technology that distributes body weight evenly across hundreds of individual extra-sensitive comfort points. It also features a patented enhanced airflow system that cools the mattress by three degrees Celsius to improve comfort and sleep.
Along with next generation mattresses, WESSCO predicts that more physical activity apps and nutritional supplements will enter onboard wellness manifestos. The company recently teamed up with Myodetox to create a program designed by physical therapists consisting of mobility movements to increase circulation and reduce stiffness, as well as with natural plant-based gummy brand KOS for smart supplements that enhance sleep, immunity and energy. WESSCO also exclusively offers a range of JetFuel’s nutritional supplements and botanical infusions proven to help reduce travel fatigue.
“We constantly research new ways of enhancing the travel experience through meaningful product development and collaborations,” says Sakkis. “We recently partnered with Allapure to provide airlines with a scientifically proven line of hand sanitizer products that are 99.9 percent effective against viruses and superbugs – a welcome ally in dealing with the threat facing the travel industry,” he adds.
WESSCO plans to reveal a diverse range of wellness products in the future.
Flying to feel well
Inflight digital service and entertainment supplier Immfly makes a point of focusing on wellness beyond the physical elements of the aircraft. The company is introducing airlines to ways they can enhance its wellness proposition with digital products and services that complement the physical comfort offerings.
“Carriers are increasingly looking to find new ways that enable customers to enjoy the same onboard comforts they have access to at home,” Immfly Marketing Director Sotiris Damianos tells PAX. “Innovations that respond to these needs fundamentally contribute to enhancing passenger wellness and reducing the stress and pain points often associated with travel," Damianos says.
Since passengers link this close-to-home comfort to mental and physical wellbeing, Damianos says the goal for Immfly is to enable passengers to use their personal devices as they would in the comfort of a familiar space. The company provides a range of content to improve physical and mental health inflight.
“We look to enhance their experience and ultimately bring peace of mind by letting them enjoy all types of content on-demand with the device of their choice,” Damianos says. Immfly also offers solutions that enable passengers to start or resume their content access before and after the onboard leg of the journey.
“Rather than limit its focus to onboard digital content, Immfly is pioneering an approach to onboard wellness that extends to pre- and post-flight aspects of the journey,” Damianos says. “The digital tools it is providing are incorporating cabin wellness as part of one seamless experience.”
In autumn of last year, the company partnered with Journey Meditation to bring 15-minute onboard meditation classes into the cabin. Through Journey LIVE, the live group meditation app, passengers can participate in tutorials on relieving stress and anxiety, improving performance, sleep and relationships, and generally promoting happiness, in addition to guidance on the basic principles of meditation. After the onboard experience, travelers can choose to become subscribers to Journey Meditation’s app.
Immfly uses big data technology to monitor, analyze and supply airlines with information about their passenger’s digital footprint onboard. The digital service provider’s IFE system enables airlines to track and understand user interaction and experience with content on each flight – something Damianos says was previously unavailable to airlines. The company even provides technology that allows airlines to dynamically deploy digital surveys to passengers on board in order to better understand their needs. “Passenger wellness is ultimately about physical and mental wellbeing.”
An ecosystem of solutions
Panasonic Avionics Director of Digital Innovation Jordan Shen says airlines are embracing the need to deliver wellness and bring a more holistic experience into the air – for all five senses.
“Passengers have become more savvy in terms of their expectations during flight,” Shen explains. From products designed to minimize jet lag, reduce travel stress and increase comfort, these wellness solutions are becoming a key differentiator for airlines, he adds.
Panasonic’s Premium Seat Lighting features two types of LED’s to enhance meal presentation and reduce eye strain. This “light therapy” can also help passengers adjust to time zone changes, fall asleep fast and rest better. It can be personalized with customized color and brightness and is fully integrated into the entertainment, seat and crew terminal systems allowing for both automatic and passenger control. The proprietary technology of Premium Seat Lighting controls and filters light to improve legibility and reading comfort.
The nanoe TM Air Cleanser by Panasonic Avionics inhibits odors and suppresses germs and bacteria around passengers through ultra-fine, electrified water nanoparticles – 15,000 times finer than the width of human hair. The modules for nanoe are small and easily embeddable in premium seating, lounge areas, galleys and lavatories.
Wellness, however, goes beyond the time passengers spend in the cabin. Panasonic has integrated functionality in airlines' application that allows travelers to pre-order entertainment and meals before even leaving for the airport.
“[This] has given us a taste for what passengers want, and what sparks their interest,” Shen says. “this is where personalization really comes into play.”
And, with this, airlines gain internal efficiencies that were previously impossible to achieve. It highlights disconnects between passenger demand and airline offerings, ultimately identifying areas for inventory improvement.
The company is now continuing to focus on providing curated and personalized entertainment choices. “Long flights are where robust internet, better curated content, games, music, and live television come in,” says Shen. “Alternate forms of passenger entertainment, such as using the airline’s IFEC portal for enhanced shopping experiences and destination travel services, are becoming a trend.”
A helpful boost
Amsterdam-based FlyFit offers a range of products that are designed to boost physical wellness inflight. The FlyFit Flow Hydration tablet® helps maintain healthy blood flow during travel. Containing the patented ingredient Fruitflow, derived from the seeds of tomatoes, it is clinically proven to support normal platelet aggregation.
FlyFit Flow Hydration tablets were developed as a natural solution designed to counteract health risks of extended inactivity, says FlyFit, and it will remain effective for 15 to 18 hours. The company recommends it for travelers who experience prolonged immobilization associated with long-haul travel.
The tablets, which are now available to Emirates’ First Class passenger globally, cannot be overdosed, have no side effects and can be used in combination with any medicine, ideal for passengers and crew.
The company also launched a new drink and chocolate bar combo for inflight snacks in 2019. Made with real fruit, vitamins and minerals, the drink helps prevent dehydration during flight and is packed in recyclable materials. The vegetarian FlyFit Crispy Chocolate bar is made with Swiss chocolate and packed full of vitamins. Both are free of gluten and artificial colors, and boast a 12-month shelf life.
The drink and snack combination come ready made in trolley drawers, making it “the perfect solution to save extra handling for the crew,” according to a release from the company at the time of the launch.