July 29, 2018 § Leave a comment
When Arnold Neuhaus was a small lad growing up in Amsterdam, he entered a contest sponsored by KLM, and won. The prize was a flight over Amsterdam, but he wasn’t able to collect because of his sister’s illness. Eighty three years later, with the help of his seven-year-old great-grandson, KLM delivered with a surprise for “Grandpa Nol’s” ninetieth birthday.
How’s that for a caring company?
Each year, AirHelp rates airlines by looking at their on-time performance, quality of service, and claim processing. I’m going to call that a “care” index (work with me here). Back in 2016, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines came in second. Since then, though, they’ve seen a bit of a dip in their ranking. Last year they came in at 11, and this year, it’s 11 again.
But KLM cares about caring, and maybe they’ll soon regain their number-2 spot. (Good look trying to be number 1. Qatar Airways seems to have a lock on that.) Take, for instance, their special-assistance program. It’s called KLM CARES.
And this summer, they’re introducing Care-E, a luggage-carrying robot that can scan your boarding pass and take you where you need to be, even if the gate changes. KLM tells CNN Travel that Care-E is currently in testing, with plans to debut it in New York’s JFK airport and San Francisco International later this year.
Care-E looks like another step toward airport robot domination, and it’s an upgrade of KLM’s Spencer, who, alas, couldn’t carry your bags.
Last year, the airline introduced the KLM Care Tag, a smart luggage tag that uses GPS and a speaker to provide helpful “tips and tricks” as you travel around Amsterdam. It’s another technology that’s in beta mode, as it was available only during September of 2017.
The Care Tag. Yeah, it’s kind of like having a stewardess riding on the back of your bike or on top of your roller bag. Of course, that’s not going to happen (though the images are kind of seared into my brain). But don’t be surprised if a member of the KLM cabin crew sneaks up behind you on the street to zip up your backpack or adjust your child’s shoulder strap. “It’s not the blue uniform that make us stand out,” they say, “It’s because we care.”
And if you still don’t believe me about KLM’s karing kulture, here’s a video in honor of Mother’s Day, for those who live far away from Mom. It’s actually my favorite of this whole bunch.
By the way (#1), do you know what KLM actually stands for? It’s Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij, which translates to Royal Aviation Company.
By the way (#2), in case you’ve never heard of AirHelp before . . . besides rating airlines (and airports), they want to help you get compensation for any flight delays, cancellations, or overbookings that have affected you in the last three years. Just let them know the details, then “sit back and relax while [they] jump into action.”
(Lilit Marcus, “KLM’s New Airport Robot Care-E Will Guide You to the Gate,” CCN Travel, July 11, 2018;
[photo from KLM, used with permission]
August 5, 2016 § Leave a comment
Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.
When Ralph Waldo Emerson said that (or at least something like that*) in the 1800s, a new-and-improved mousetrap was a suitable metaphor for innovation. I would submit to you that today’s mousetrap may very well be the carry-on bag, and the door is an Indiegogo campaign.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Modobag. (Sorry, I mean the Modobag!)
The Modobag, the creation of Kevin O’Donnell, with the help of Boyd Bruner, is a TSA- and FAA-compliant carry-on bag that you can ride around the airport. It has an electric motor, telescoping handlebar with thumb throttle and hand brake, and professional motorcycle-grade foot pegs—and it can carry your clothes, too.
Here are some of the specs from Modobag’s Indiegogo page:
- two speed settings—5 mph indoors, 8 mph outdoors
- ability to carry a person up to 260 lbs
- 8-mile range (for a 180-lb person)
- two USB charging ports
Pre-orders for the Modobag are available at Indiegogo for $1,000. The campaign was set up with a modest goal of $50,000, and with two weeks left, it has already blown past a quarter of a million dollars.
According to CNN, O’Donnell doesn’t want to limit his invention to the airport. He wants people to ride it to the train and use it to navigate conference venues. And he takes it for spins himself in the bike lanes of Chicago.
It all sounds like a great idea to me, but I do have a few concerns . . . where the rubber meets the airport walkway, so to speak. But I think each one is fixable with the simple addition of an accessory.
First, there are the images in the video above of riders leaning into tight Modobag turns. I can imagine middle-aged travelers (like myself) wiping out on the way to Gate 26. Solution? The addition of fold-down wheeled outriggers—a fancy way of saying they need training wheels.
I’m also wondering about trying to pull two, or more, pieces of checked bags on your way to an international flight. A guy only has two hands, and one is already busy with steering, throttling, and braking. Solution? Some kind of proprietary linkage system to form a giant super luggage trolley.
And finally, I’m worried that airport authorities will step in to shut down Modobag riders in the name of safety (for example, see “wiping out” above), much the way that the anti-progress lobby has unfairly hampered the would be life-changing Segway revolution around the globe. Solution? A simple beeping mechanism and pop-up flashing light. Hey, it works for those airport carts.
The bottom line for me, though, is I’m not much of an early adopter. I’m more of a late follower. So just as with wearable luggage, carry-on child carriers and follow-along bags, and even pillow head coverings, to all you risk takers, you trend setters, you beta testers, I say, Lead the way! And as long as you don’t look too silly, I’ll be right there jumping on board. (I promise.)
(“Modobag: World’s First Motorized, Rideable Luggage,” Indiegogo; Matt McFarland, “You Can Now Ride Your Luggage around the Airport,” CNN, July 22, 2016)
*[and now, for quote geeks like me . . .] According to Garson O’Toole of Quote Investigator, the earliest form in print of
Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door
is from “Current Comment,” in The Atlanta Constitution. The passage, titled “The Value of Good Work,” is ascribed to Emerson and was published on May 11, 1882, a few weeks after his death:
If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon or make a better mouse trap than his neighbors, though he builds his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.
Giving credence to Emerson’s authorship of the sentence, or at least the thoughts behind it, is a journal entry that Emerson wrote in 1855, under the heading “Common Fame”:
I trust a good deal to common fame, as we all must. If a man has good corn, or wood, or boards, or pigs, to sell, or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles or church organs, than anybody else, you will find a broad hard-beaten road to his house,though it be in the woods.
Sarah S. B. Yule and Mary S. Keene include the “If a man . . .” quotation above, crediting it to Emerson, in their book “Borrowings,” compiled in 1989 and published in 1893. The article “The Mousetrap Quotation: The Verdict,” from 1912, quotes Yule telling how she heard it from the lips of Emerson:
To the best of my memory and belief, I copied it in my handbook from an address delivered long years ago, it being my custom to write everything there that I thought particularly good, if expressed in concise form; and when we were compiling “Borrowings” I drew from this old handbook freely. It will seem strange to you, as it does to me, that Emerson never incorporated this in any of his essays. He did use the thought and similar wording, but never exactly the wording, of the quotation I used in “Borrowings.”
(Garson O’Toole, “If You Build a Better Mousetrap the World Will Beat a Path to Your Door,” Quote Investigator, March 24, 2015; “The Mousetrap Quotation: The Verdict,” West Publishing Co’s Docket, Volume 1, West Publishing Company, 1912)
October 17, 2015 § 2 Comments
On a recent flight over the Pacific, I perused the October issue of American Way, the inflight magazine of American Airlines. Here are my thoughts:
- Gracing the cover, singer/songwriter Jessie J “continues to redefine herself.” I wasn’t familiar with her first definition.
- At CashInYourDiamonds.com, I can sell my “unwanted diamonds for cash.” Finally, a place to unload all those gemstones that have been dragging me down.
- People Tools, by Alan C. Fox, is not a book about people who are tools.
- Reading the tagline “Athlete and TV host Michael Strahan knows how to dress” didn’t quite pull me into that article.
- Voodoo comes from vous, the French word for you, and the English do. Who knew?
- Judging by all the advertisements, hair loss must be a big deal for travelers.
- Oh yeah, Bondi is a beach in Sydney, not just an iMac color.
- The mag writers’ favorite shirt is made by Ledbury, with its “fused canvas interlining” in the collar to keep it from collapsing. . . because “crushed collars are a business traveler’s nightmare.” Can you say, “First-world problems”?
- It took me a while to realize that Amber Kelleher-Andrews, of kelleher-international.com, has been awarded “top global matchmaker,” not “watchmaker.” By the way, who exactly gave her that award?
- The editors let me know that “78% of readers will act on an ad they’ve seen in this magazine.” If that includes people who blog about the advertisements, count me in.
If you’d like to read your favorite inflight magazine from the comfort of your web browser, take a look at Inflight Magazines: My Virtual Seat-Back Pocket Runneth Over.
November 26, 2013 § 5 Comments
Several airlines have decided that typical, stodgy air safety videos aren’t getting the job done, so they’ve gone to great lengths to punch them up with some flair and pinache. And some of those airlines are upping the ante by making their creativity a trend.
I’ve already written about six previous attention-grabbing videos, and here’s a look at three more—the newest offerings from Virgin America and Air New Zealand:
- Virgin America Safety Video
A music/dance video featuring past contestants from American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance (with a couple contortionists, too), it’s directed by John M. Chu, the director of Step Up 2, Step Up 3, and Justin Beiber’s Never Say Never. Future inflight-dancer wannabes can Instagram their best moves with #VXsafetydance to audition for a sequel.
- Safety Old School Style
Air New Zealand’s latest offering stars Betty White and Gavin MacLeod (of The Love Boat—look here if you’re too young to remember). It’s set at the “Second Wind Retirement Resort” and has lots of one-liners and sight gags poking fun at the senior-citizen set.
- The Bear Essentials of Safety
Man vs. Wild‘s Bear Grylls takes this Air New Zealand video to the great outdoors—New Zealand’s Routeburn Track, to be exact. Take a look if you’d like to see what exit-row lighting would look like if the plane were a cave and glow worms lit the way.
I think it’s time that someone started a set of awards for all these videos. We have the Emmies. We have the Razzies. How about the Safeties?
(Frances Cha, “‘Step Up’ Meets Robot Dancers in Virgin America’s New Over-the-Top Safety Video,” CNN, October 30, 2013)