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Company : SITA 
Tuesday, February 11, 2014 2:02PM IST (8:32AM GMT)
 
Virgin Atlantic First in World to Use Wearable Technology to Serve Passengers
SITA develops pioneering new technology for Virgin Atlantic concierges
 
London, United Kingdom

Virgin Atlantic passengers will be the first air travelers to experience the benefits of pioneering Google Glass and Sony Smartwatch technology as they arrive at London Heathrow airport, in an innovative pilot scheme which starts today.  Concierge staff in the airline’s Upper Class Wing will be using wearable technology to deliver the industry’s most high tech and personalized customer service yet.
 
The cutting-edge technology is being introduced as Virgin Atlantic publishes the results of a major study of 10,000 airline passengers from across the world on the future of air travel[1].  The results show that as the number of people travelling by plane has sky-rocketed in recent decades, the experience has lessened.  Virgin Atlantic is joining with passengers and calling on the industry to introduce more innovations and radical fresh thinking to meet sky-high consumer expectations. 
 
Virgin Atlantic, in collaboration with air transport IT specialist SITA, is the first in the industry to test how the latest wearable technology, including Google Glass, can best be used to enhance customers’ travel experiences and improve efficiency. From the minute Upper Class passengers step out of their chauffeured limousine at Heathrow’s T3 and are greeted by name, Virgin Atlantic staff wearing the technology will start the check-in process. At the same time, staff will be able to update passengers on their latest flight information, weather and local events at their destination and translate any foreign language information. In future, the technology could also tell Virgin Atlantic staff their passengers’ dietary and refreshment preferences – anything that provides a better and more personalized service.  During the six-week pilot, the benefits to consumers and the business will be evaluated ahead of a potential wider roll-out in the future.
 
Virgin Atlantic’s new solution replaces an existing process for serving passengers traveling in the Upper Class Wing, the airline’s premium entrance at Heathrow dedicated to Upper Class passengers. Airline staff is equipped with either Google Glass or a Sony SmartWatch 2, which is integrated to both a purpose-built dispatch app built by SITA and the Virgin Atlantic passenger service system. The dispatch app manages all task allocation and concierge availability. It pushes individual passenger information directly to the assigned concierge’s smart glasses or watch just as the passenger arrives at the Upper Class Wing.
 
Dave Bulman, Director of IT, Virgin Atlantic, said: “While it’s fantastic that more people can now fly than ever before, the fact that air travel has become so accessible has led to some of the sheen being lost for many passengers.  Our wearable technology pilot with SITA makes us the first in the industry to test how Google Glass and other wearable technology can improve the customer experience. We are upholding Virgin Atlantic’s long tradition of shaking things up and putting innovation at the heart of the flying experience.”
 
Jim Peters, Chief Technology Officer, SITA said: “2014 is shaping up to be the breakout year for wearable technology, and Virgin Atlantic is the first to bring its vision to reality. At SITA Lab, we’ve taken the lead in testing and trialing this new technology for the air transport industry, and it’s been fantastic to work with Virgin Atlantic to launch the industry’s first wearable technology application.”
 
Virgin Atlantic continues to push the boundaries with other technological advancements with SITA, including testing iBeacon with its Upper Class passengers at Heathrow, a new low-powered Bluetooth transmitter that can notify nearby iOS Apple devices of nearby services, discounts and updates on their flight boarding schedules. In addition, Virgin Atlantic’s newly enhanced mobile site means passengers will be able to book flights, check in online and check their flight status on the move, while also having access to the vast range of information on the main website, including destination and airport guides as well as details of baggage allowances and much more.
 
In 2013, SITA’s strategic technology research group, SITA Lab, began testing and comparing wearable technology devices and developing applications for airlines and airports. A paper outlining its findings for the industry is available here.
 
See here for more on the Virgin Atlantic story.

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Notes to Editors:
 

About SITA
 

SITA is the world's leading specialist in air transport communications and IT solutions. SITA delivers and manages business solutions for airline, airport, GDS, government and other customers over the world’s most extensive network, which forms the communications backbone of the global air transport industry.
 
SITA’s portfolio includes managed global communications, infrastructure and outsourcing services, as well as services for airline commercial management and passenger operations, flight operations, aircraft operations and air-to-ground communications, airport management and operations, baggage operations, transportation security and border management, cargo operations and more.
 
With a customer service team of over 2,000 staff around the world, SITA invests significantly in achieving best-in-class customer service, providing integrated local and global support for both its communications and IT application services.
 
SITA has two main subsidiaries: OnAir, which is the leading provider of in-flight connectivity, and CHAMP Cargosystems, the world's only IT company dedicated solely to air cargo. SITA also operates a joint venture, Aviareto, which provides aircraft asset management to the air transport community.
 
SITA is one of the world's most international companies. Its global reach is based on local presence, with services for around 450 air transport industry members and 2,800 customers in over 200 countries and territories. Set up in 1949 with 11 member airlines, SITA today employs people of more than 140 nationalities, speaking over 70 different languages. SITA had consolidated revenues of US$1.57 billion in 2012.
 
For further information go to www.sita.aero
 

About Virgin Atlantic
 

Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class Wing at London Heathrow Terminal 3 provides Upper Class passengers with a seamless transfer from car to clubhouse in just 10 minutes, as well as drive thru check in, baggage concierge and a dedicated private security channel.

Virgin Atlantic was founded by entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson 29 years ago after he decided the UK aviation industry needed shaking up and having some style injected back into it. On 22nd June 1984, Virgin Atlantic's inaugural flight to Newark took place, on an aircraft filled with personal friends, celebrities and the media.  
Today, Virgin Atlantic flies to 36 destinations worldwide, including locations across North America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Far East and Australia.  Some of its most recent additions to its flying network include Cancun, Vancouver and Mumbai.  
 
In 2013 Virgin Atlantic launched a sub brand, Little Red.  Little Red flies domestically across the UK, with 26 daily flights between Manchester, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and London. Passengers can experience seamless connections onto the airline’s long haul routes at Heathrow airport.

In the winter of 2012, Virgin Atlantic announced a joint venture with Delta Air Lines, creating an expanded trans-Atlantic route network and enhancing competition between the UK and North America.  The two airlines will codeshare across 108 routes, offering passengers seamless connections to 66 destinations. 
 
Virgin Atlantic has pioneered a range of innovations setting new standards of service, which its competitors have subsequently sought to follow.  Recently it redesigned its upper class cabin, which included a new seat and a futuristic bar, which is the longest in the sky.  Additionally, its entire leisure fleet of aircraft recently completed a £50 million renovation and includes a newly designed more comfortable seat and a brand new touch screen in-flight entertainment system, offering over 300 hours of the latest films, television shows, music and games.
 
Virgin Atlantic has enjoyed huge popularity, winning top business, consumer and trade awards from around the world and was recently placed 8th in the UK Coolest Brands League  and was named Travel Brand of the Decade last year.  More recently, the airline won best longhaul airline and best airport lounge at the Telegraph Ultra Travel Awards and Europe’s leading airline lounge for the Heathrow Clubhouse at The World Travel Awards.

Virgin Atlantic currently has a fleet of 40 aircraft which includes comprised of Boeing 747s, Airbus A340-600s, A340-300 and A330-300s as well as four leased A320s on Little Red routes. The airline is expecting delivery of 16 Boeing 787 Dreamliners from September 2014.  
 
Populus research

Populus interviewed a random online sample of 10,054 air travellers aged 18+ across 10 countries between 28th October and 8th November 2013. 1000 interviews were conducted in UK, USA, China, Japan, India, Hong Kong, Australia, Mexico, UAE, and South Africa.  Respondents were screened to ensure they have taken at least one flight in the last 5 years. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.  Further information at www.populus.co.uk
 
 
[1] Research conducted by Populus of 10,054 adult air travellers in November 2013. Figures in this release are based on UK results.  Results for the USA, China, Japan, India, Hong Kong, Australia, Mexico, UAE, and South Africa are also available.

 
For News Release background on SITA click here
 
Media Contact Details
Brenda Flinter, Media Relations Manager, SITA, +353-87-750-6229, Brenda.Flinter@sita.aero
Charlie Pryor, Director, Leidar, +44 (0) 20 7031 8270, charlie.pryor@leidar.com
Abbi Oakley, Virgin Atlantic, 07740-596-496, 020 7260 2700, abbi.oakley@bluerubicon.com
Debbie Howard, Virgin Atlantic, 07740-596-496, 020 7260 2700, Debbie.howard@bluerubicon.com
 
 
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