The Friendly Skies

Airlines offer unique services to improve flight experiences

Millennials are the experience generation: they would far rather have a cool experience (61%) than a cool product (39%) from a brand. As such, travel has become a key priority for them, and now airlines are innovating to ensure that the process of getting from point A to point B is not just a flight but also an experience in and of itself. 


KLM prides itself on offering passengers social experiences to make travels more memorable. Its Layover With A Local campaign attempts to improve the time that would otherwise be spent waiting in the airport for a connecting flight. It unites those stopping over in Amsterdam with locals to introduce them to the city’s cultural offerings. KLM covers the cost of the trip from the airport to Amsterdam Central Station where each meeting begins. From there, the airline also pays for the first round of drinks at whatever destination the newly acquainted pair may visit. By facilitating the introduction, KLM hopes to “turn your transfer into a trip."


Icelandair is known for offering its passengers extended layovers in Iceland at no extra cost. Now, it’s leveraging its staff to give travelers a unique opportunity to sample the local flavor as they spend a few days in the country. Fliers can choose a Stopover Buddy from the airline’s employees, including cabin crew members, pilots, and even the CEO. As an introduction, staffers created videos of their ideal day in Iceland to indicate what they would do with their guest, ranging from mountain climbing to knitting with the country’s renowned wool. Travelers can request a buddy with one of six special interests: Adventure, Culture, Food, Health, Lifestyle, and Nature.


Virgin America is testing a partnership with SeatBoost through which its passengers can bid on seat upgrades. The privilege of getting bumped up to first class has generally been a perk for those who travel most frequently with the airline, but now all travelers can compete for upgrades. A limited number of first class seats are available to bid on—after those for frequent flyer upgrades have been allotted—through the SeatBoost app. Participation in seat auctions is free, and users are only charged if they win the upgrade. Currently, the system is available on flights from San Francisco to Las Vegas and on all flights leaving Sin City.