By John Burroughes, Managing Director,  Uniglobe Preferred Travel

British Airways lead the way

British Airways, in conjunction with IATA, are leading the way in the development of the permanent luggage tag. Extensive development work has been taking place to establishing an industry standard for the tag that would have a generic interface, for use by any airline as well as being interlinable, meaning it could be used for up to three destinations. It looks at all aspects of the permanent tag - the e-link display, the 2D barcode, the RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and the NFC (Near Field Communication) interfaces.

Although baggage mishandling has reduced by over 50% since 2007 and only 1% of the worldwide baggage is now mishandled, this is still costing the industry $2.58 bn (£1.62 bn) every year.

Baggage quality measurements have recently been defined, which enable airlines and airports to refer to a clear list of measurable processes - such as the time taken for a passenger to successfully process a bag at self-service bag drop stations - and therefore identify where improvements can be made. After recent attacks at airports there is an industrywide drive to streamline and speed up the customer experience at checking. I will be watching with interest and keep you updated on this and other progress.

Sci-fi or reality?

Well Mr Putin certainly doesn’t think this is fiction. It is unknown if he is a Capt Kirk fan although in the early days of the mobile phone era he certainly was, allegedly, captured holding what looked suspiciously like the famous Star Trek flip phone.

Yes we’ve all had them.

Well, now the Kremlin has backed a multi trillion pound (£1.4 trillion) strategic development programme drawn up by, yes you’ve guessed it, Vladimir Putin himself to seek the development of teleportation by 2035. It sounds fantastic today but there have been successful experiments at modular level. Western governments also believe that Russia has leveraged its computing talent and is making significant progress on many fronts. I will be watching this space to understand if this is the end of air travel as we know it and in closing I will simply say “Beam me up Vladimir”.

Could this be the future look of the European aviation industry?

In the highly competitive aviation industry we are all used to inventive attempts to grab the headlines, be it stories about having to pay one euro to use the on-board facilities or certain budget airlines experimenting with standing room compartments. Or from the other spectrum, the famous red high-heeled shoes of one of our most flamboyant airlines.

Time to move over Mr Branson, I think even you have been out manoeuvred in the headline grabbing escapades of Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, who is poised to become South East Asia’s first self-made female billionaire.

Thao made her first million by trading latex rubber and fax machines(!), with the initial public offering of Vietnam’s only privately owned airline, Thao is set to have a net worth exceeding $1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, making her the country’s first female billionaire.

VietJet is known for its young and attractive flight attendants who wear bikinis on inaugural flights to beach locations and featured similar models on its calendars, which Thao says are empowering images in Vietnam’s conservative culture.

“Our flight attendants have the right to wear anything you like, either the bikini or the traditional ao dai,” she said, referring to the traditional long tunic worn over loose pants. “We don’t mind people associating the airline with the bikini image. If that makes people happy, then we are happy.”

VietJet will probably surpass national carrier Vietnam Airlines as the nation’s biggest domestic carrier this year, according to CAPA Centre for Aviation. Vietnam is expected to rank among the world’s 10 fastest-growing aviation markets in the next two decades, according to the International Air Transport Association.

“You have to take the lead and take calculated risks,” she said. “As a businesswoman, I have a responsibility to contribute to the economy and to push for positive changes of the country and in the society, in light of the international integration that’s happening.”

On a personal note I would like to say that I have not flown on VietJet (yet) and I can’t help wondering how many other Asian airlines require their flight attendants to wear, what is clearly, regulation DVT stocking.

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