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Briefs: Two carriers revamp cabins; LH improves mobile apps

In news of international carriers, Iberia and Air Tahiti Nui have unveiled plans for an overhaul of their seating and in-flight amenities; Lufthansa is offering improved functionality for users of its mobile platform; and the SkyTeam global alliance said its premium passengers can now get through the airport faster at Tokyo Narita.

  • Spain’s Iberia, a member of the transatlantic joint venture partnership that includes British Airways and American, said it will introduce revamped business and economy seating on its new Airbus A330-300s, which it will start receiving this month through early 2014. The planes will have 36 seats in Business Plus seats and 242 in economy. The Business Plus seats will recline into fully flat beds and each one will have direct aisle access. Seats are equipped with 15.4 inch screens as part of a new in-flight entertainment system; business class flyers will also get a 4.2-inch touch-screen remote with a “virtual keyboard,” which can be used to make phone calls or send and receive text messages, Iberia said. “Iberia will soon add Wi-Fi and GMS texting capability for all passengers on long-haul flights, plus power and communications jacks in all seats,” the company said. Besides the new A330-300s, the improvements will also be added to Iberia’s A340-600s, used on routes to the Americas, “in the course of the year,” Iberia said.

  • Air Tahiti Nui, based in Tahiti and flying to Los Angeles, Auckland, Tokyo and Paris (via LAX), set an April 2013 debut for reconfiguration of its A340-300 cabins. Its three-class layout will be replaced with a two-class configuration—an expanded Poerava Business Class and an upgraded economy section. Business class will grow from 24 to 32 seats, and new seats will have a 60-inch pitch in a 2x2 layout. Economy class will keep a 2x4x2 configuration, but new seats will be 18 inches wide with a 32-inch pitch. The revamp includes a new in-flight entertainment system with on-demand touch-screen access to 50 films and TV shows, magazines, games and music.

  • Lufthansa said it has upgraded its mobile portal (mobile.lufthansa.com) and corresponding apps for smartphone users. Persons with Apple and Android phones can now get automated flight status notifications with news of gate changes, delays and so on. The service can be activated during mobile check-in or through the app. Users also have the ability to store their login information in an encrypted form on their devices so they don’t have to re-enter it with each use. “In the future,” Lufthansa said, “app users will also be able to save and file their travel documents (e.g. passport) or visa details electronically. This does away with the need to re-enter the data each time they make a reservation or check in for their flight.”

  • Premium travelers on airlines in the SkyTeam global alliance can now take advantage of a fast-track security lane at Tokyo Narita, where SkyTeam carriers are based at Terminal 1-North. “The dedicated security lane is located behind an easily identifiable SkyPriority-branded wall,” the group said. It’s available to Elite Plus passengers as well as first class and business class customers. SkyTeam carriers using Narita Terminal 1-North include Delta, Aeroflot, Aeromexico, Air France, Alitalia, China Southern, KLM, Korean Air and Vietnam Airlines.

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