There is no better start to an interview than the interviewee asking a question to the interviewer. It instantly provokes a vibrant, open minded and straight forward atmosphere. This is exactly what occurred when D&T sat down to interview Dror Harel, country manager of Air France KLM in Budapest.
As the interview began, Dror Harel surmised: 'I guess your first question would be on the benefits we offer to the customers in Hungary'. He was right. According to him, the Air France-KLM, Delta, Alitalia joint venture (JV) provides more than 250 daily transatlantic flights with numerous benefits: a more varied choice of destinations with more frequencies and adapted schedules across the Atlantic; close to 300 destinations in North America; competitive fares; harmonized ground and in-flight services; earning miles on all flights operated by the four airlines; the largest network of lounges and dedicated call centers in Europe and North America.
Concerning the recent enhancements of the main European hubs (Paris CDG, Amsterdam-Schiphol), Dror Harel pointed out that the Group is continuously investing in upgrading the check-in experience, facilitating the baggage drop-off process, boarding and lounge facilities. Air France and the Paris Airport ADP have invested USD 743 million in concentrating JV flights closer together, opening pedestrian connection channels, and additional amenities. Thanks to new channels, 100% of transfer customers within the "Schengen" zone no longer need to pass through a second security check. The SkyPriority check-in zones have been remodeled to gain rapidity and clarity.
KLM is upgrading its long-haul lounge and will shortly begin the installation of new check-in desks for Premium customers at Amsterdam-Schiphol airport. KLM was the first airline to use iBeacon technology to offer transfer passengers a service that guides them to their next boarding gate. The route to the gate is shown on a map of the airport including the time needed to get there on foot.
When customers arrive or depart from Delta’s key U.S. hubs, they do so through much improved facilities. Delta’s international terminal in Atlanta offers highly efficient check-in, security and baggage services. And in New York, Delta has just unveiled phase two of its expansion at JFK Terminal 4. The latest improvements add 11 new gates and 75,000 square feet of space. This has allowed the airline to relocate Delta Connection flights at JFK from Terminal 2 to Terminal 4 to streamline transit for onward travelers.
As to the new features in the cabins and on board services, Air France-passengers may enjoy the new 'Feel at home atmosphere" cabins on long-haul flights. La Premiére cabin provides exclusive suites with three square meters each;totally or partially isolated thick curtains; individual cloakroom; numerous storage area; large fully-flat bed (2,30m length);direct aisle access; large table and ottoman for guests; window blinds and a state-of-the-art HD 24-inch screen. An unforgettable culinary experience is guaranteed thanks to internationally-renowned French chef, Paul Pairet. La Premiére class is available on the following destinations: New York, Boston, Houston, Sao Paulo, Doula/Malabo, Dubai, Tokyo, Shanghai, Singapore/Jakarta.
In Air France’s new Business cabin, the company has created a real cocoon in the sky for increased privacy and comfort. The 3F concept includes:
1. Full Flat (The seat converts to a horizontal bed for crossing time zones without fatigue. With a length of 1.96m, this is one of the longer full flat seat on the market). 2. Full Privacy (A true bubble of privacy in the sky; IFE Last generation: HD screen) 3. Full Aisle Access (Direct access to the aisle, regardless of the seat’s location in the cab)
The seat adapts to the shape of each individual, from seating position to a true bed close to two meters long. At the heart of the curved structure, each passenger creates their own space, enveloping and protective, according to their desires. Hungarian customers will also soon discover the new Premium Economy class, this is not a new cabin but ’enhanced’ offering 40% more space and the new Economy class, offering optimum travel comfort.
Air France unveiled the first Boeing 777 equipped with its new long-haul cabin classes in 2014. One year later, the company is reaping the rewards of its efforts with a significant increase in its customer satisfaction ratings. The La Première cabin product has also won accolades, with two Skytrax awards for the La Première lounge at Paris-CDG.
"Air France was committed to bring the French ‘l’art de vivre’ to passengers, just as KLM is loyal to its Dutch heritage: Holland - The Original Cool.There is no other airline which can copy the strong heritage of both carriers and we offer customers a touch of it, which is embodied in the new Air France and KLM cabins and services today." - said Dror Harel.
KLM launched the deployment of its new World Business Class seat in summer 2013. This renovation is accompanied by investment in new seats and in-flight entertainment systems consistent with the best industry standards. ’Feeling comfortable is not the same as experiencing comfort” said Dror Harel while introducing the new KLM World Business class. It is now available on all Boeing 747-operated flights, including to Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and New York-JFK. The redesigned cabin features full-flat seats that recline to 180° and are the longest in the sky (2,07m), extra storage and other enhancements like privacy screens. More space has been created with increased leg room, resulting from a decrease in the number seats from 45 to 35 seats in the Business class cabin on Boeing 747s.
New “fully flat-bed seats” are available in Delta One cabins on all trans-Atlantic services. The seats are in a one-two-one configuration and all face forward. This creates “cubes” of personal space for more privacy and, with each customer enjoying direct aisle access, they don’t disturb others when moving around the cabin. The seats turn into flat beds at the touch of a button and, combined with full-size pillows and luxury duvets created by Westin Hotels and Resorts, help ensure a great night’s sleep.
For those who want to work, the ergonomic seats provide lumbar support for comfortable posture. Large side tables allow electronic equipment and documents to be easily set to one side while dinner is served. And, with universal and USB power adaptors, tablet computers, laptops and MP3 players can be recharged.
Social media platforms offer Air France KLM the opportunity to meet and service its customers and fans in their own timeline and become part of their world. It is an unique opportunity to build up very strong connection with them. Air France KLM has 13.2 million friends on Facebook and 1.6 million followers on Twitter. A customer/fan can ask anything all year round, they answer in 14 languages; Chinese is next on to the list. KLM has earned EUR 25 million on social media last year.
On the North Atlantic, the Air France-KLM Group has implemented a joint-venture with its partners Delta and Alitalia since 2009. Some 250 daily flights link the 9 principal hubs: Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Atlanta, New York, Detroit, Minneapolis, Cincinnati and Salt Lake City. Air France-KLM serves 19 destinations in North America on departure from Paris-CGD and Amsterdam-Schiphol. Air France-KLM has increased capacity to Vancouver from Paris and KLM has resumed flights to Edmonton from Amsterdam-Schiphol.