Author Archives: Silver Fu

Airlines as Cultural Representations

It’s been a long time since my last post…Good to be back here to talk about commercial aviation. I have previously mentioned, in my first blog, that different airlines can be seen as distinct agents that represent the cultures of their home countries. I made this point totally out of my observations. When I boarded my first few flights almost a decade ago, I started to notice different seat decorations of different carriers. It was not until later years that I figured out some meaning out of these ostensible differences. For example, hidden behind the cloud-shaped figures imprinted on seats of Air China is the oriental philosophy that promises happiness and tranquility; ANA’s signature boarding music Another Sky brings a taste of traditional Japanese music, ongaku, to its passengers. Yet as I think about the subject deeper, I have found out that the footprint of an airline’s culture extends far beyond explicit manifestations of national symbols. As you will see in the three case studies below, both the indigenous, regional culture and the internal corporate atmosphere have huge impacts on almost every dimension of an airline’s operation and the product it delivers. The cumulation of every little cultural detail, in turn, shapes the identity of airlines and helps them differentiate from their competitors.

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ANA Onboard Japanese Meal Selection from Tokyo Narita to Shanghai (Picture taken by myself)  Continue reading

The Mystery of Airline Loyalty Programs – Silver

At the end of my last blog, I mentioned how airlines have become so adept at differentiating their products that in a foreseeable future, a greater level of customer-driven customized flight experience can be expected. In fact, not only is this phenomenon a significant trend in the airplane seat development, it also represents a unique feature of the industry’s revenue composition. When I was building an eco-hotel business model in my Business & Society class back in the fall, I noticed that approximately 10% of hotel revenue comes from sources other than regular room rates. This seems quite reasonable: after all, meals, laundry, mini-bar expenses are often an important part of travelers’ hotel bills. However, I was surprised to find out that according to a consulting firm IdeaWorks, the ancillary revenue of traditional U.S. air carriers (non-inclusive of those low-cost competitors like Southwest) had 11.9% share of their total revenue in 2015, meaning that in average, when a major U.S. airline sells a $1,000 ticket, it would later get $119 more revenue from somewhere else. While these numbers seem to illustrate the power of the “customization” I have previously mentioned, they indicate something far more profound. A deeper look into IdeaWorks’ report suggests that nearly 55% of U.S. major airline ancillary revenue came from “sale of FFP (frequent flyer program miles).” In fact, aside from the seemingly excessive baggage and seat selection charges, airlines increasingly found frequent flier programs to be just as lucrative. Arguably, the proliferation of loyalty programs in airlines has become a definitive feature of the industry, shaping the modern-day air travel landscape in so many ways.

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American Airlines AAdvantage Program

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A Brief History of Airplane Seats – Silver

In the past week, I have been focusing on the evolution of airplane seats. Through this blog post, I will present a snapshot of this multifaceted and complicated piece of history. While I realize that I am far away from being an expert on many nuances and considerations that went into the seat design process, I hope that I can, at least, portray a general trend of development and provide some insights into how today’s air travel can be seen as a cumulative result of the past.

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Stories Behind the Metal Birds – Silver

Hello everyone. It is definitely an exciting time for me to start doing my second semester research on the past events and current developments of commercial aviation. I am a huge fan of commercial aviation since I was little, and I regularly read and write travel blogs and aviation forums to get to know the latest trends or development in this field and to share my thoughts.

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Air Canada Boeing 777-300ER with service from Shanghai to Toronto (picture taken by myself)

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