SimpliFlying iPod giveaway!

Dear Readers,

SimpliFlying has recently hit a number of major milestones. I have published one hundred articles on this blog now (this is 101st) and they have been read over 17,000 times! In addition to the recent award and accolades, SimpliFlying has a PageRank of #12 on Google for “airline branding” and comes up as the first result on Google for a number of search terms, including “cathay qantas merger”, “singapore airlines brand analysis” and “vijay mallya interview”.

All this and more could not have been possible without your generous support. Hence, to celebrate these achievements, and thank SimpliFlying’s readers, I’m giving away a 2GB Apple iPod Shuffle as a token of appreciation.

Winning is simple…

The iPod will be given away through a lucky draw to a reader who completes these three simple tasks.

  1. Subscribe to receive SimpliFlying updates by email or RSS
  2. Comment on at least one article on SimpliFlying (excluding this one)
  3. Share one truly remarkable brand experience you’ve had with an airline, in the comments section on this post.

Comment on SimpliFlying’s Top 10 articles

To make it easier for you to comment on an article, I’ve compiled here a list of SimpliFlying’s all time Top 10 most read articles. Feel free to comment on any one (or more) of these.

  1. What can airlines learn from the Obama marketing machine
  2. Three ways airlines can brand themselves out of the recession
  3. Why a Qantas and British Airways merger is good (and why Qantas + Cathay Pacific will be even better!)
  4. Will online communities by airlines help their brands take-off?
  5. Top five branding insights from Virgin America
  6. Emirates A380 maiden flight coverage from JFK
  7. Singapore Airlines, still a great way to fly? A brand analysis
  8. Three reasons why Qantas missed a branding opportunity with A380
  9. Why Virgin Atlantic Airways is not “on the brink of collapse”
  10. Top 10 branding insights from the best loyalty programs in the world

Alternatively, you may be interested in viewing one of the many video or audio interviews I have done on airline strategy and branding in the past few months with key airline executives and branding thought leaders.

The contest ends on January 15, and the winner will be announced here on the blog. I will personally wrap and ship the 2GB iPod to the winner. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions.

I hope this contest adds to your festive cheer!

Best,
Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam is the CEO of SimpliFlying and a globally sought-after consultant, speaker and thought-leader on airline branding and customer engagement strategy. He is also the youngest winner of the Global Brand Leadership Award and has addressed senior aviation executives globally, from Chile to Canada and from Sydney to San Francisco. Shashank's perspectives have found their way into major media outlets, including CNN Travel, CNBC, MSNBC, Bloomberg UTV, Mashable and in leading publications like Airline Business, ATW, Aviation Week, and others. Shashank studied Information Systems Management and Business Management at Singapore Management University and Carnegie Mellon University. Hailing from India, he splits his time between Singapore and Vancouver, among other cities.
Shashank Nigam
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Showing 27 comments
  • Ruth Mortimer
    Reply

    Hi there!

    My best ever experience on an airline was on a JetBlue flight from New York to Las Vegas.

    As we boarded the plane, a fast-moving storm meant that the whole west coast of the US was out of bounds for flights landing. We were instructed not to take off until the storm had cleared somewhat, suggesting a delay of up to six hours. We were already halfway to the runway.

    Obviously, when the pilot relayed this, everybody on the plane was extremely irritated. But due to several things, the whole experience left me with a good impression of JetBlue.

    1. The pilot constantly updated passengers on the situation. He reasoned that if the storm, which was moving fast, cleared early, we would be able to get underway sooner than the six hours, explaining why we weren’t all going to disembark the plane immediately. He turned out to be right. We waited three hours.

    2. He took the decision that we should remain in the area of the airport before the runway section. He said that this would delay us by an extra few minutes when queuing to take off but would mean we could all watch TVs and he would rather we were being entertained when stuck on a plane for any length of time.

    3. The stewards were really kind and handed out food and drinks to everyone, chatting and reassuring everyone that the delay probably wouldn’t be that bad. They were also joking with passengers in a friendly way that made everyone feel less irritated because it was a more human experience.

    4. When a man got an ear infection during the flight – when it finally did take off – the staff made him compresses and helped him with genuine concern. The man was literally screaming and they helped comfort him as well as offering solutions.

    5. The whole flight was basically not very good on paper – delays, delays, delays and some bad turbulence. But the staff meant that a really rubbish experience became something that I remember as a business giving me really good service.

    Hope that helps!

    Ruth

  • Puneet Aggarwal
    Reply

    I had a nice surprise waiting for me when I boarded an Etihad flight 4-5 years ago. It was from New Delhi to Dubai. Etihad was new in those days. When I reached the counter to check-in, the check-in executive, a lady, carefully looked at my passport and commented ” Sir, you have been travelling to Dubai, a lot many times… Is this your first flight with us ?”. To this, I replied YES. And then she asked, which airline did I fly earlier. I claimed “EMIRATES !”. She said.. “Sir, I would like to enrich your experience with us… and upgrade you to Business Class”

    I think thats a terrific branding strategy. And certainly, a WOW experience for me.

    Regards, Puneet

  • Puneet Aggarwal
    Reply

    By the way, just to add…. I never flew Business Class on any airline and it was my first International Business Class experience, that too – free and courtesy, Etihad… which made it all the more sticky branding….

  • Rico Sharqawi
    Reply

    I can’t say enough good things about Virgin America! My business partner and I recently experienced what it was like to fly on Virgin America on a round trip flight from SFO to LAS. We both were very impressed and quickly spread the word via our blogs and status updates on Facebook and Twitter. We let everyone one in our extended network know about our experience with Virgin America and the great ambiance on board the airline’s airplanes, the great lighting, hip and cool music overhead, “Method” soap in the lavatories and most importantly, the “HAPPY” crew! This is what commercial flying is supposed to be like.

  • Jacqueline Johnson
    Reply

    Took JetBlue from Las Vegas to JFK. Normally would travel on American and make the connection in LA. Standing online at the desk in Las Vegas waiting my turn. Saw the Jetblue representative emerged from behind the desk to help a lady lift her luggage onto the belt for check in. I was shocked as I have never seen that kind of hospitality from any airline employee. The staff on board was equally friendly, professional and helpful. I am now a convert.

  • Tonya Pendleton
    Reply

    Yes, I have! I flew Silverjet from Newark to London, Luton. The airline’s customer service was phenomenal from the time you arrived at their lovely upscale nightclub style lounge. They took your passport and bags at the door and ushered you through the most hassle-free security I have ever experienced. As the airline was business-class only, every seat was comfortable and relaxing. The flight attendants seemed as though they’d been plucked from Bond girl hopefuls, if only the Bond girls had been trained in superior customer service. Champagne was served upon boarding and wine was plentiful throughout the flight. The food is the best I’ve ever had on any airline ever. I can still taste the chocolate cake that appeared to have been baked onboard, as well as a risotto that would rival what was served in a high-end restaurant. Upon landing at Luton, you were ushered into another lounge, completely separate from the bustling airport terminal, where you had a choice of fresh fruit, toast, breads and juices, as well as the opportunity to take a shower and a private car to get you to the train station to central London. I’m so sorry Silverjet is now a part of aviation history, it was truly a fantastic way to fly!

  • Roji Aldashi
    Reply

    KLM all the way! They have never failed to deliver. I wish I could say the same for Delta or Air France.

  • Lynne Marmulstein
    Reply

    I was totally taken back when retrieving my brand new piece of luggage came off without one of its wheels, making it impossible to maneuver without carrying (which was not going to happen since it was a large bag & heavy). I went up to a Representative of United Airlines in the baggage claim area at Harts field in ATL and asked if there was anything that could be done. She lead me into a small room and handed me a brand new piece of luggage, wrapped in plastic; slightly smaller than my bag. I couldn’t believe this was happening as the tickets clearly state that ” luggage with wheels” will not be repaired or replaced should the wheels get damaged!!

  • Keri Hanson
    Reply

    I flew Virgin America from San Francisco to Las Vegas and it was by far the best airline experience I have ever had. From the first class massaging chairs to the personal screen entertainment options like programming your own music play list to playing video games and texting your friends in other seats, the whole experience rocked. The mood music and lighting were also intriging and totally out of the box. Their safety video was engaging and the seat flotation spoof actually had me chuckling. I wish I could fly VA more often, but I do tell everyone I meet that my experience with them was incredible and I would never hesitate to pay more for a ticket to fly with them instead of a different domestic carrier.

  • Randall Hull
    Reply

    I’ve had good experiences with Southwest Airlines. I had to change flights several times during a trip and they were polite and responsive. The flight attendants try to interject humor into their announcements. One of the attendants on a recent flight could have been a standup comedian. They made the flight fun.

  • Frank Craig
    Reply

    My family and I were on a flight from LGA to ORD this past September on United. Due to inclement weather in PIT, we missed our initial connection in LGA. The airline bent over backwards to secure us on a flight leaving immediately and held the aircraft long enough for us to get thru security at LGA.

    When we reached the gate, we were escorted aboard the aircraft (Airbus 319) and found we were the sole passengers. Turns out the equipment and crew needed to be back in ORD that evening. We were moved up to 1st class and my kids were given a tour of the cockpit. The pilot announced that the Craig’s private flight back to Chicago was ready to depart and asked the flight attendants to make sure our every need was taken care of.

    One of the attendants was gracious enough to sit with my 8 year old daughter once we were airborne as she read a book on dogs that she picked up back in Pittsburgh and they both discussed the relative merits of the different breeds for most of the flight.

    Overall a wonderful flight and one that left my kids convinced that the only way to travel is on United (and in first class!). I will not forget the kindness of the ticket staff nor the crew to make this a most memorable travel adventure.

  • Sandra Wright
    Reply

    I have not flown Jet Blue, and am sure it is a wonderful airfline. And…I have to give Kudos to Southwest Airlines. They are consistently friendly, fun and willing to accomodate any and all small requests. I have NEVER been late to a destination and OFTEN arrive early. Okay – some people think it is a cattle call. Truth be told – families get on first – but need to sit towards the back – disabled guests are treated like royalty and are seated in the most convenient place..

    However…prices are low, they don’t charge for two checked bags – oh my goodness what a gift today…and they only charge $25 for a bag that’s oversize or overweight instead of $50 to $150 per bag. They are the low cost, friendly, on-time/early carrier. For short flights, I would choose them everytime! Oh – did I mention that there isn’t a charge to change your flight? And are they not still the only profitable airline despite any of the recessions? It’s consistency over time and being who you say are that are important.

    People want brands to believe in something, be who they say they are, and apologize / make up for it when they fail. (no one is perfect) One instance – One Time – What’s your point?

  • Shashank Nigam
    Reply

    @Sandra: I couldn’t agree more with you about the importance of consistency. After all, it is the sum of many good experiences that creates a great brand. My attempt was just to hear one from each person.

  • Paul Murray
    Reply

    Flying from Krakow to Newark on SAS, my flight was delayed due to weather conditions and I did not make my connecting flight out of Copenhagen. The SAS staff quickly found me another flight on Malaysia Airlines on a 747 headed for EWR at their expense. Worked out perfectly!

    P.S., SAS is a great airline with great flight attendants and great equipment. The landings are always smooth. I fly them whenever I can. The Malaysia airlines flight was great, too. For those of you who have to connect, I recommend connecting through Copenhagen. The airport is comfortable and beautiful. Does not suck the life out of you.

  • Marcy Schackne
    Reply

    I had the absolute pleasure to fly from JFK to Johannesburg on South African Airways. The flight crew were very interactive with the passengers … and did not abandon us once the meal was served. There were constant refills of drink and inquiries to provide service. There were regular checks on the lavatories … which was welcomed on a transoceanic flight. Nothing worse than sitting near the lavatory and being overcome by odors after the 5th or 6th hour of flight. We were offered amenities, the pillow and blanket were terrific, and I felt like the crew really cared about what was going on in the cabin. I would highly recommend SAA to anyone and would fly them again at the first chance.

  • shaquille squires
    Reply

    Hi all !!!
    I was flying in January 2008 PTY-EWR-HKG-EWR-PTY with my wife as a bussiness trip she has to do in HKG , and , so we decide to go , do bussinesses and some short vacations.
    When we get in PTY , a agent greet us and we make the check-in. We get a delay of near 5 hours , because in EWR , the airport was closed due to wheater.
    Since wheater isn´t fault of the airline , passengers have to acommodate themselves , we lost our connection in EWR to HKG . When we arrive at EWR , a very helpful agent try to solve our problem and we get in the Marriot Hotel near the airport.They say that they helped us because we were important OnePass Frequent flyers.
    We were very happy , and with this I confirm that Continental I will continue flying with them and , if they continue like they are doing , they will be the Best Airlines in North America ( if they dont are)

  • shaquille squires
    Reply

    I fly Continental Airlins in January 2008 ( PTY-EWR-LHR-EWR-PTY) in a bussiness trip with my wife.
    Since we have some we work in a company with headquarters in London , we have to go there, for some important decisions with the company in Panama.
    When we aboard , there was beatiful and very friendly F/A in helping passengers with bags.
    When we arrive in EWR . an agent say to us that the flight to LHR will be delay by 4 hours due to over traffic.
    In EWR , see that my wife was a Frequent flyer (OnePass) and give us vouchers for the meal.
    We were so happy , and with this Continental is comfirming that they will take care of they frequent flyers. and I for sure will be flying Continental.
    Feedbacks appreciated

  • shaquille squires
    Reply

    These are just my two experiences with Continental.

  • MuthuSingarVadivelu Mu
    Reply

    I witnessed this when i was waiting at the Delhi airport on my way back to Chenai. I was on a business trip to Delhi with my boss. As our return flight on Kingfisher had been delayed by almost 2 hrs, we had to wait at the airport tired after a day’s work.

    Next to us were an elderly couple, waiting to board the same flight. Unaware of the flight delay, they walked directly to the entry gate. One of Kingfisher’s staff who just handed over her duty and was returnign back met with this couple and enquired them about their trip. From then on she stayed with them through out the two hours of waiting, chatting with them, helping them with their luggage and she even went and bought refreshments from the nearby stall for them. Remember, she did all this after she was done with her own duty. It was a truly surprising moment for me. We were watching all this with surprise. We walked over to the airline staff and congratualted her for the concern she had for the passenegrs.
    From then on , Kingfisher’s image in my mind changed from “A glamourous Indian Airline” to “An airline with people who are totally Customer Oriented”

  • alison
    Reply

    Southwest has the best flight crews, hands down. I have been on flights where they give kids something to play with during delays, they have handed out extra snacks (unheard of these days!) and even sung parodies.

  • Josh Friedman
    Reply

    That’s a bold question in this day and age.

    In July ’08 my 11 year old nephew was returning to JFK from SFO and Virgin America had a guy playing card tricks with the kids before boarding. The plane wasn’t even late. And on the way out his credit card (for food, etc) that his mom had given him was expired but Virgin feed him anyway.

    Impressive.

    Josh
    http://www.joshfriedmantravel.com

  • Katie Thomas
    Reply

    Mine is simple and old!!! My family used to fly Singapore Airlines when I was younger and every time we came in to land the stewardesses would brush and singapore plait all the girls hair, simple gestures and 25 years on I still remember that detail!!!

  • Anne Harrell-Gilroy
    Reply

    It’s pretty sad what “delights” one by an airline these days. I got a “free” meal on Continental last month. The meal wasn’t that great, but just the fact that they weren’t shoving peanuts and pretzels in my face was, sadly, a delight.

  • Samuel
    Reply

    Hi Shashank!

    My best ever experience was Cathay Pacific’s ultimate long-haul flight CX831 from JFK-HKG.
    Upon boarding, flight attendants guided us, even the economy class passengers to our seats.
    The pilot greeted every single passenger, which is quite rare on other quality airlines, e.g. SIA.

    Why I chose this airline as a remarkable experience you may ask. Because of the following reasons.

    1. The new economy class is superb. Very few airlines have this new feature where the seat slides down instead of recling. This is truly a remarkable surprise.

    2. The IFE had an immense choice of new movies fresh off the grill.

    3. The ground staff (check-in counter) were very kind and interactive. The flight attendants were also very social and talked to the passengers.

    4. A passenger onboard the flight had a bloody nose. The flight attendants cared for him and got him some medical treatment very fast.

    Samuel.

  • Shashank Nigam
    Reply

    ****This competition is now over****
    ****The winner is Tonya Pendleton****

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