Ask any Economy Class passenger’s opinion on what needs to improve to make their flights more enjoyable – and here’s what you’re almost certain to hear: More legroom. Better catering. And a wider entertainment assortment.
What we discovered turned out to be completely different.
When Lindstrom Company embarked on this project some 2 years ago, we found an established, conventional European airline company in the throes of its own rebranding project. As is typical with many major airlines, ‘rebranding’ often amounts to nothing more than a logo and badging make-over. Attention is paid to the exterior optics of the company, without offering the same level of diligence to its core product. Consumer-driven innovation, for good example.
And, as is so similar with many others, seemingly disconnected. Cabin crews disconnected to ground staff, disconnected to back-office, disconnected to management.
Through all of this we saw amazing opportunity. Lindstrom Team members conducted hundreds of interviews with passengers and SWISS team members. Meetings took place on 3 continents. The SWISS team comprised members from their flight crews as well as ground staff, and management. What all had in common, which became the very point of the exercise, was the chance to understand the world of flying from a passenger perspective. To listen and observe the likes, frustrations, the hopes and, yes, even their ideas for a better experience.
This new collaborative formula was also where the SWISS pivotal differentiator was discovered. It was not more legroom, better food, or a more diverse entertainment system, these are givens – for all airlines. What the Lindstrom team discovered was an overlooked concern that had been present as long as passenger flight itself: Anxiety.
Not just in-the-air anxiety (although this is the most common), but everything to do with a flight. Booking packing journey to the airport checking in security lines delays pre-boarding at the gate on board de-plane distance to Immigration control baggage carousels waiting for luggage lost luggage missed connections lay-overs exiting airport securing rides to final destination.
Anxiety, we determined, is the most important emotional factor, which, once eliminated, would lead to a world of difference for all passengers. Even for those who don’t realize how their behavior is being impacted by non-conscious anxiety. And who would be better qualified at eliminating anxiety than SWISS?
Knowing this, the Lindstrom Company team, in collaboration with a fully representative mix of Swiss ground and cloud crew, most of whom had never before worked together as a unit, began an internal mission to systematically remove anxiety from every aspect of the flying experience. Through intelligent consideration, and by analyzing every passenger touch point, smart and surprisingly cost-efficient solutions were developed, refined, refined again – and implemented.
To most passengers the initiatives will be unnoticeable at first. Some will manifest via a more conventional mode, like onboard announcements. All, though, will have one thing in common. To make anxiety extinct in any form on all Swiss International Air Lines.
“Ladies & Gentlemen, hello again from the flight deck. We’re about to begin our descent into JFK – expect to be on the ground in about 40 minutes – 10 minutes ahead of schedule.
I have some good news for you. We’ll be parked at Gate 109, a short 6 minutes’ walk to US Customs and Immigration. My station manager has just notified me that waiting time at Immigration is only 17 minutes – and no longer than 15 minutes at your luggage carousel. With a bit of luck you’ll be out of the Airport in less than 30 minutes.
Also – the update from Waze is driving time to Manhattan right now is only 47 minutes. So, if this is your destination – you should expect to be back home in about 1 ½ hours.
Once again, thank you for flying Swiss International Air Lines.”