Player Two – Grab The Kleenex

Player TwoI’m not one for video games. Loved playing them with my younger brother when I was a kid, but somehow I grew up and fell out of love with them. My love loss was further compounded years later when my 9 year-old nephew kicked my ass playing Call of Duty (I swear to this day that I still didn’t see what I was supposed to be shooting at!!).

But I am soon to become a father for the very first time. So my tendancy for sentimentality has been slowly on the increase these past few months. That’s probably why I really like this advert for Microsoft’s Xbox. I’m not at all expert enought to espouse the pro’s and con’s of one system versus another. I just liked the story behind the ad and the heart strings it was tugging on me when I watch it.

Apparently (I saw “apparently, because it could be true, or it could have been planted by an ad-man) a user on a forum posted a message about how he missed playing with his Dad, who had sadly passed away. He found an old Xbox in the garage and found the ghost of his Dad on one of their favourite games.

It’s a simple but heart warming ad, and if you have any remnants of a soul, thenI defy you to not have a little lump in your throat after you’ve watched this.

KLM Airlines – When An Upgrade Is Really A Downgrade

KLM Seat Map KLM Seat PitchFor those of us who fly frequently for work or business, there seem to be fewer and fewer perks afforded these days to frequent flyers these days. The entire experience of business travel is often a stressful and soul destroying one, fraught with long queues at the security, lost passengers, cancelled/delayed flights and very little in the way of edible food or on board perks once you get on board your flight. And with airlines these days maximising load factors with flights nearing full capacity by way of selling more Economy seats and having fewer Business Class seats, the days of a freebie upgrade have all but diminished.

So imagine the joy experienced by one KLM passenger who was told he was being upgraded on a flight from Prague to Amsterdam, only to have that jubilant feeling dashed immediately when he was told by the ground crew that although he was being bumped up to Business Class, he wasn’t allowed to avail of the creature comforts everyone else was to enjoy near the pointy end of the flight. WHAT?!

This is what happened to a passenger who wrote about his experience in a complaint to KLM. KLM’s new preferred method of dealing with customer queries, compliments and complaints is via their Facebook and Twitter social media tools. Given the very public nature of social media, it means that the airline’s dirty laundry is aired in public for all and sundry to see, and this one makes for interesting reading.

I managed to reach out to the passenger in question to find out more. It turns that on his return flight back to Amsterdam, he was told he was being “upgraded”. BUT, he was told he wouldn’t be served a business class meal and wouldn’t be getting the frequent flyer points either. To make matters worse, when he was nearing the plane, it was only then that he realised that his preferred seat – which was a window seat in the Economy Comfort section in KLM’s premium economy cabin – was substituted for an aisle seat. Not only that, but the aircraft in question has no difference in seat pitch or seat comfort between the Business Class and the Economy Comfort. So he was effectively moved from a seat he paid extra for to a seat he didn’t want and has clearly stated in his passenger profile on KLM’s frequent flyer programme that he doesn’t like.

But wait, it gets better. Because whilst he knew he wasn’t getting a Business Class meal, the cabin crew made doubly sure that both he AND his fellow passengers knew that he was “upgraded” by way on blabbing out loud to him during the cabin service that he was only entitled to an economy meal. It was at this stage, he explained, that he reached boiling point, because in his eyes, he had not been “upgraded”, despite the ground staff and cabin crew repeatedly using that phrase to him. If anything, he explained, he had received a “seat reassignment”.

When he arrived home, he wrote a complaint to KLM, expecting the airline to acknowledge the error of their ways, and offer up a remedy or token of apology, but their responses only further served to rankle him. His biggest frustration, he emailed to me, was that the airline continued to reply scripted responses feigning platitudes of insipid and insincere apologies over his experience during the flight, and never once offering anything at all to make-up for the fact that his “upgrade” wasn’t an “upgrade”, but rather a “downgrade”.

In his original opening complaint, he wrote to KLM explaining the dictionary definition of an upgrade, i.e. the definition of an upgrade is “an occurrence in which one thing is replaced by something better, newer, more valuable, etc”, and further explaining that being moved from a preferred seat, to a worse location AND not being treated the same as your fellow passengers in Business Class does not, by definition, meet the criteria of an “upgrade” and therefore should not be referred to as such. It’s hard to disagree with the man.

From their replies (see the attached conversation), however, it’s pretty self evident that the customer services people either didn’t understand his point, didn’t care about his point, or weren’t empowered/inclined to do something to make it up to him. Even when he pointed out to KLM that Business Class is not just a seat, it’s a service – a selling point that the likes of Singapore Airlines, Qatar, Emirates, Virgin and Cathay capitalise on – the airline failed to acknowledge the issue.

I know many of you will look at this and think it’s another one of these “First World Problems”. That it’s merely someone being difficult. However, there is a valid point to his argument, which is that if an airline sells the concept of a frequent flyer programme to customers, with one of those benefits being upgrades and preferential treatment for it’s most revered passengers. When they treat that loyal customer like a second class citizen, that same passenger who has helped keep that airline in business, then maybe it’s time to start thinking about flying with someone else.

The differences in customer service, quality of product offerings on-board with Asian/Middle Eastern airlines versus European Flag Carriers and US airlines has long been discussed in travel forums across the internet. Everyone knows that the Gold Standard of in-flight service and customer service on the ground is held by the likes of Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and Emirates Airlines.It’s the principle concept of good customer service in any business and in any industry, and these three lead the way. And they have proven that if you treat your customers well, they will come back time and again. But treat them with contempt and you’ve lost not just one, but perhaps hundreds of potential customers, new and old. A lesson KLM’s latest financials would suggest that they cannot afford to ignore.

It remains to be seen what, if anything, KLM will do regarding this issue. They had made noises about offering our weary traveller a “surprise” on his next flight. But it appears that doing their “utmost” meant doing nothing at all. It’s one thing to ignore and shrug off a complaint, it’s quite another to promise you’ll resolve it, and then break that same promise. My guess is that this wasn’t the first passenger KLM have done this to, and it will most likely not be the last. And scripted false apologies on Facebook are also not the way to handle such things either. But if you, like me, travel a lot for business, you might might find yourself also getting a “downgrade” soon.



Bad Ass Barefoot Skiing

Vooray_1 Vooray_2 Vooray_3I don’t know if I’m more impressed with the barefoot skiing, the open cockpit float-plane pulling the barefoot skier, or the pretty girls in the boat admiring the barefoot skier, but this is a really cool video, promoting outdoor clothing company, Vooray’s collection.

Admittedly, it’s from last year. Which means two things…1. I am most DEFINITELY not a “hipster” who is up on all the latest trends, and 2. I am now starting to really show my age 🙁

That being said, the skills shown-off here are nothing short of amazing. I’m especially intrigued as to how the guy was doing push-ups ON THE WATER! I can barely do ONE on the relatively solid structure of my gym’s floor. This bloke was doing it on the water whilst being dragged at a hundred miles an hour across the lake.

But, as a pilot myself, the star of the show has to be that wee float-plane. My friend Ouen once shared the details behind the plane, which is a home-built job, and we’ve harboured a dream of each owning one and taking them on long summer cross-country flights across the bush with the wind literally in our hair. Some day Ouen…..some day 🙂

Virgin Atlantic 2015 Advert – Let It Fly

Virgin Atlantic_4I’ve long been a fan of Virgin Atlantic. From the early days as a scrappy, game changing, market disruptor (buzzword bingo anyone?), to the gradual maturation of a suave and sophisticated airline, bringing back the glamour to the airline industry from the golden era of passenger travel.

And key among that image projection, aside from the stellar service one gets aboard one of their flights, is their TV advertising campaign. Their most memorable advert, celebrating their 25th anniversary, still feels fresh and tongue-in-cheek, with an homage to the 1980’s.

Their 2011 campaign took inspiration from the often artistic James Bond opening credit sequences to dazzle customers with their take on British sophistication. Full of fun, glamour and rife with self-deprecating humour, it’s one of my favourites.

Not to be out-done by their parent, Virgin America got in on the act with an update of the safety demo shown to passengers before take-off. Part “Glee”, part “Got To Dance”, it again exhorts Virgin’s humourous side whilst keeping passengers engaged in the usual boring safety demo. Interestingly, Delta have also more recently rolled out something similar on their flights.

Their 2013 advert once again took inspiration from the movies. This time, it took the form of a Superhero “movie trailer”, which showed off the various skill-sets of their pilots, crew and cabin design team.

Two years later, they’ve launched their newest TV advert for 2015. This time round, it’s focused more on the business traveller. Inviting viewers on a high energy journey which follows a passenger on his way to pitch an idea.

Set to Depeche Mode’s ‘Personal Jesus’, the film is intended to capture the spirit and vision of Virgin Atlantic as THE airline for people who share a similar “can-do” mindset and inspire those who want to make their ideas happen, whatever those ideas might be.

English actor and award winner Andy Serkis, best known for his Lord of the Rings work, narrates the video.

As is usual for Virgins ads, this one is thick with humour, and shows off the various pre-flight perks Virgin are rightfully proud of. That being said, given the emphasis on the “perks”, it’s clear the audience it’s aimed at is the more discerning and affluent business traveller. That is, after all, where most airlines make their profits, and Virgin is no different……they just have a much better product.

Skiing Down A Wave

Wave Skiing Wave Skiing_2 Wave Skiing_3 Wave Skiing_4This epic footage of Chuck Patterson skiing down a giant wave off the coast of Maui, Hawaii will surely grab your attention.

Filmed for German sportswear brand Bogner, Patterson takes on the famed big wave surf break on Maui’s north shore.

I think my favourite part is when he uses the ski poles to make it look like he’s outrunning the wave. 🙂

WestJet Made Me Believe In Santa Again

This tear-jerker marketing coup will really get you in the Christmas spirit. Canadian airline, WestJet, helped to bring Christmas a little bit earlier for some of their passengers when they pulled off a truly amazing trick.

The airline, with the help of a virtual and tech-savvy Santa Claus, learned what passengers at the Toronto and Hamilton International Airports — who were waiting to board flights to Calgary — had on their Christmas wishlists this year. Once everyone boarded their planes, the WestJet team also took off — on shopping sprees to the local mall.

More than 150 WestJet employees were Santa’s elves for the day. They busied themselves with fulfilling the Christmas wishlist, wrapping the pressies and delivering them to the airport in Calgary before the unsuspecting passengers landed. Upon arrival, the weary travellers received nothing short of a holiday miracle at baggage claim.

The entire event was captured via hidden cameras and turned into an ad mimicking the poem commonly known as The Night Before Christmas.

Just one question…..wouldn’t it suck if you were one of the few who DIDN’T talk to Santa before boarding? 🙂


Science Saturday – It’s All Around You

This weeks Science Saturday is a both educational and a little quirky. I wanted to share with you some of the humorously clever adverts Science World have launched, across the city of Vancouver.

They teamed up with Rethink Canada to produce a number of ads for their “We Can Explain” and “Now you Know” campaigns. The goal of these campaigns was to both increase awareness of and introduce their “personality” to their local community, engaging the general public with science in a way that is both thought-provoking and fun.

I think they managed to achieve what they set out to do 🙂

Science World - Fart LearningScience World - ClownsScience World - CarbonScience World - SnotScience World - SkinScience World - Jason FearScience World - Blue WhaleScience World - Cat PeeScience World - Mosquitos