Perhaps you’ve seen the Korean Air TV advertisements that have been airing for some time in the U.S. Although I have not yet flown Korean Air, I’m ready to. The message in the advertisements have reached a tipping point with me, and their excellence in flight message has hit home in my psyche. Here’s the ad:
So how did I, a consumer and frequent business traveler, reach the point where I am ready to try Korean Air’s product? The right message at the right time. After dozens of mediocre experiences in flight, I want some excellence. I need some excellence.
From the first time I saw the Korean Air ads a couple years ago, I took notice. And with repeated viewing, their impact has Here’s why:
1. Understated elegance.
In an industry that has become decidedly unelegant almost all the time, the understated elegance of the ad’s production attracts attention. Wonderful chill music by Robert Matt, a simple message, and a relaxing vibe sucks the viewer in.
And I want one of those turquoise martini drinks.
The takeaway: In an era of marketing overstatement, be understated instead.
2. It’s different.
We might be familiar with seeing ads like this for fragrances or spas, but not for airlines. Watch this Continental Airlines ad. See how it’s style contrasts with Korean Air’s commercial.
Hear the frantic music? See the high-energy video? While everyone likes to fly on new planes (the key message of the Continental ad), Korean Air makes a statement simply because it’s different from typical business-as-usual airline advertisements. No splashy colors (merely predominant muted grays along with splashes of turquoise); no frantic panning and zooming of the image (gentle, dreamy visuals instead); no typical hyper-business voiceover (just a few words spoken in total, and with pleasing and calm speech)…these equal a “pay attention” vibe, and it works.
Can flying really be a sensual experience?
The takeaway: If you want to stand out, be different.
3.It has a simple message.
Airlines haven’t been talking much about excellence lately. It’s nice to see and hear, especially when a customer probably has visuals of recent airline crashes stored somewhere in their memory. “Excellence in flight” is digestible, it’s meaningful, and it resonates with viewers. I don’t know if it’s true, but the goal of marketing is not accuracy, it’s more revenue.
The takeaway: Messages with less are often more effective than messages with more.
Now, would a company in Seoul please hire me for a sales training project or speaking engagement so I can try out Korean Air? I need a little excellence in flight.
And I like kimchi.
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Great funny and truthful piece on Yahoo Travel. Below are a few excerpts.
The secret journey your bag takes once it leaves the check-in counter.
1. “Don’t pack light—we need the money.”
These are turbulent times for the aviation industry. According to the Air Transport Association of America, passenger revenue fell 18 percent in 2009, the largest drop on record. In the past decade airlines have also been hit with extra costs related to fuel prices, security and unionization: 40 percent of air-transportation workers were unionized in 2009, compared with 12 percent of the general workforce. “It’s a tough, tough industry to achieve any success,” says Daniel Ortwerth, transportation analyst at Edward Jones.
So it’s no surprise carriers are cutting corners. Passengers have kissed hot meals goodbye while paying for itinerary changes, frequent-flier bookings and even blankets and pillows. Another hit: luggage fees. In January most major domestic carriers bumped these to $25 for the first checked bag, $35 for the second (but amounts can vary), which could generate $117 million in new revenue, according to consultancy IdeaWorks. It’s a mixed bag for handlers like Shae Flores of American Airlines: Sure, fliers are checking fewer bags, but they’re cramming more into them, requiring “more upper-body strength,” she says.
2. “We’re losing fewer bags—because there are fewer to lose.”
It’s true, fewer bags are getting lost in transit these days: There were 3.91 “mishandled” (lost, stolen, damaged or delayed) bags per 1,000 passengers in 2009, compared with 5.26 in 2008 and 7.05 in 2007, according to the Department of Transportation. But baggage handlers shouldn’t pat themselves on the back. Catherine Mayer, VP at travel-tech firm SITA, says the DOT undercounts errors by excluding reports from passengers with an international leg in their flight. (The DOT agrees, saying airlines are required to file mishandled-baggage reports only for domestic trips.) What’s more, industry experts attribute the downward trend to the fact that there’s less luggage to lose; US Airways, for one, says it has seen a 20 percent drop in first-checked-bag volume.
Mayer says the vast majority of lost bags are reunited with owners within 48 hours. But when they aren’t, airlines sell off unidentifiable bags to defray the cost of insuring lost luggage claims. Final stop: the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Ala., a 40,000-square-foot store that peddles their contents as “lost treasures from around the world.”
3. “Some of us have sticky fingers.”
Last June, Sekita Ekrek, a New York–based entertainment consultant, flew to Chicago to visit family. Upon arrival at her sister’s place, she says, she went for her camera, which she’d put in a checked bag before the flight, but it was gone. Upset, she decided to file a claim against the carrier, American Airlines. But by the time she got home and found the original model number, it was too late; the airline’s 30-day window had passed. “They said, ‘That’s our policy, end of story,’” says Ekrek. (A spokesperson for American Airlines says that camera equipment is excluded from the policy because of liability limitations.)
To be fair, 30 days seems generous compared with the limits set by other airlines. Brandon Macsata, executive director for the Association of Airline Passenger Rights, says some airlines require that you report stolen goods before leaving the airport. Alexander Anolik, a San Francisco attorney specializing in travel law, says that while courts will probably not sympathize if you miss a 30-day window, same-day-reporting rules are unreasonable. Airlines likely owe you money even if it takes a few days to notice that something’s gone, he says.
6. “Not all bags are created equal.”
In the movie “Up in the Air,” travel-obsessed downsizing pro Ryan Bingham (played by George Clooney) takes his firm’s ambitious new hire to a luggage shop after she brings a clunky suitcase along on her first business trip. Indeed, finicky fliers say the smallest details matter, and industry experts agree that some materials are better than others. According to Dawn Sicco, U.S. wholesale marketing director at Samsonite, ballistic nylon—originally used in World War II flak jackets—has become the “pinnacle of the industry” since first appearing in luggage two decades ago. For hard-shell suitcases, Sicco says polycarbonate is best. Lightweight but strong, this synthetic resin is found in police riot shields and bulletproof glass.
Baggage handlers can be picky too. Flores, the American Airlines handler, says she prefers bags with “spinner” wheels that rotate in circles; this makes it easier for her to push bags in any direction without lifting them. But that doesn’t necessarily mean consumers should opt for spinners. Dan Bohl, a district manager at Colorado Bag’n Baggage in Denver, says the wheels on four-wheel suitcases are more susceptible to damage and dislocation because of their placement.
7. “Stressing about baggage claim? You should.”
Ever wonder what happens if someone walks off with your suitcase at baggage claim? Airlines hope it won’t happen. “It’s more of an honor system,” says a spokesperson for Southwest. Legally, says travel attorney Anolik, until your belongings are back in your hands, they’re still the airline’s responsibility, and on trips involving connecting flights with multiple airlines, it’s the first carrier that matters. In the case of checked luggage poached at baggage claim, airlines say that they’ll negotiate a reasonable payment if they can’t find your bags but that it’s impossible to hunt for bags once they’ve left the airport.
Fortunately, the Department of Transportation has made it easier to get reimbursed for expenses ranging from a toothbrush to a new suit by cracking down on airlines that had been violating its baggage-handling rules. Anolik notes the domestic limit for claims is now $3,300 but cautions that for international flights, calculating compensation can be tricky, since liability is likely to be priced in “special drawing rights,” a complex monetary unit made up of differently weighted currencies.
8. “Many of us don’t actually work for the airlines.”
Not all baggagehandlers work for airlines; many are contract workers employed by so-called ground-handling companies. JetBlue employs a mix of both, while American uses contractors at airports where it has just a handful of flights per day. Major ground-handling companies include Swissport International, which employs about 1,500 baggage handlers in the U.S. and, like its rivals, gets most of its business from foreign airlines. According to Michael Boyd, president of aviation consultants Boyd Group International, third-party vendors are popular as a way for airlines to save money, since ground-handling firms compete for contracts, hire more short-term workers and tend to be less unionized.
John Conley, director of the Transport Workers Union’s air-transport division, says outsourcing baggage handling can mean slower service and mistakes. “If I were working for a contract group, it’s likely that I’ll have less of a wage…and probably less of an investment,” he says. A Swissport exec says that’s not true, and Boyd agrees consumers shouldn’t worry, since it’s a straightforward job most handlers can do no matter who the boss is.
10. “If you think we’re bad here, just wait till you go abroad.”
In some parts of the world, smugglers have been known to transport drugs in the luggage of unsuspecting air passengers. In other regions, security may be especially lax, and pilfering of bags or their contents is of greater concern for travelers. Worldwide, 11.4 bags per 1,000 passengers were mishandled in 2008, according to SITA; industry experts say that figure is far lower in the U.S.
Using luggage locks during foreign travel is a good idea, but to prevent smuggling and theft (at least of a bag’s contents), some fliers are wrapping their suitcases in layers of clear plastic. Smarte Carte, a provider of luggage carts at major airports, offers plastic-wrapping stations in Auckland, New Zealand, and Perth, Australia. Florida-based Global Baggage Protection Systems, meanwhile, operates as Secure Wrap in 47 airports worldwide. Not going abroad anytime soon? Domestic travelers can try out Secure Wrap for $9 to $14 a pop at John F. Kennedy International in New York, George Bush Intercontinental in Houston or Miami International. In Miami, where drug smuggling is an especially big worry, 2,000 to 4,000 pieces of luggage get wrapped on any given day, says Secure Wrap Executive Director Daniel Valdespino. But a Transportation Security Administration spokesperson says agents will open bags if they have to, even plastic-wrapped ones.
Videos: bad baggage handlers (or, Remind me again why we pay to check luggage!)
by A. Hermitt
What happens to your bags after you hand them over at the airport? It’s a question we’ve all asked ourselves. Are our bags cared for lovingly? Are they abused? Are they tossed and thrown… or set down carefully, gently?
While most baggage handlers are no doubt scrupulous and careful with luggage, every group has its bad apples. Here are some of the worst offenders, making us mutter to ourselves, “Remind me again why we pay to check luggage!”
Watch these baggage handlers see who can get the best backward, over the head shot into containers with luggage and shipped packages.
Watch these baggage handlers see who can get the best backward, over the head shot into containers with luggage and shipped packages.
It’s clear that this baggage handler is not really interested in “handling” the baggage as it comes off the plane.
This young lady was having fun bag tossing… until she realized passengers were watching her from the plane.
These British Air baggage handlers seem to enjoy watching the bags bounce off each other.
These EasyJet baggage handlers seem to think it’s appropriate to stack the smallest bags on the bottom… and dump the larger bags on top.
This guy doesn’t throw any bags… he just drags the bags behind the baggage car.
So you think locking your luggage makes it safer? Ha! This video shows you precisely how to get into a “locked” bag.
These baboons at Knowlsey Safari Park give new meaning to the phrase “baggage handlers.”
Good luck on your next flight, and remember: don’t pack anything valuable in your checked bags!
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Already seen Rome and Paris? Fresh, new cities are springing up
government relocated its capital to Naypyidaw
, an undeveloped site more
than 200 miles north of its previous capital, Yangon
, in 2005. The
city is still under construction, but already has a population of
nearly 1 million, which would make it Myanmar’s third-largest city.
By Oliver Chiang
– As you plan your
next big trip, centuries-old hot spots like Rome and Paris may come to
mind. But if you’ve been there and done that, you might want to check
out some new cities that have sprung up recently around the world.
One trip you may want to start saving up for
now is a vacation to The Pearl in Qatar, a man-made island chain in the
shape of a string of pearls, billed as the “Riviera Arabia.” Situated
in a lagoon just offshore of Qatar’s capital city of Doha, this $2.5
billion project started development in 2003 and will eventually include
luxury villa apartments, three 5-star hotels,
beaches and marinas.
Though it won’t be finished until 2013 or
later, The Pearl already has a number of high-end retail shops and
restaurants, and holds regular performances by artists like Spanish
tenor Placido Domingo. And if, after visiting the islands, you find you
just can’t bear to leave, you may be in luck. The Pearl has a string
of nine private islands that will go up for sale in the
future–provided you can afford what will probably be exorbitant
For an experience with less gild and a lot more grit, visit
Naypyidaw, the new capital of the Southeast Asian nation Myanmar,
especially if you enjoy being part of a good mystery. No one knows
exactly why the Myanmar government in 2005 suddenly relocated the
capital 200 miles north to Naypyidaw from Yangon. Nor does anyone know
the future plans for Naypyidaw, Burmese for “city of kings,” or how many
millions of dollars it must be costing the government to develop it.
But for the curious traveler, half the
adventure of Naypyidaw is getting there–the capital is tucked away in a
mountain jungle, an eight- to 10-hour drive along ox-cart roads. You
can also claim bragging rights to having been to one of the more
obscure capitals of the world, where few other travelers have gone
before. There aren’t many big tourist attractions in the city, but a
couple of note are the zoological gardens, with hundreds of animals,
including rare wallabies and white tigers, and the water park. The
Myanmar government says Naypyidaw has an estimated 1 million residents,
making it the country’s third-largest city.
If you’re looking for a new city somewhere in Northeast Asia,
consider South Korea‘s new Songdo International Business District. When
it is completed, likely in 2014, this $35 billion project will
encompass 1,500 acres and house around 65,000 residents. In addition,
Songdo will have an 18-hole championship golf course, which is
scheduled to host the 2012 PGA Championship Tour, an art museum, an opera house
and concert hall. Already completed is the 100-acre Central Park in the
middle of the city, as well as a number of residential and commercial
Songdo is not only an entirely new city, it is
also an example of an “eco-city,” a term that describes the growing
trend of new cities with plans focusing on sustainability, using smart
technologies and strategic planning. Examples of Songdo’s
sustainability plans include an extensive public transportation system
and a centralized waste disposable system that uses a series of
Eco-cities like Songdo are more than just a nice idea; they are
expected to yield important lessons for future human habitats. By 2050
nearly 70% of the world’s population will live in cities, according to
the Population Division of the United Nations’ Department of Economic
and Social Affairs. As cities become home to the majority of the
world’s population, Songdo and others will become important testing
grounds for green technologies and new ways of city planning.
“The thinking is that by changing the way
cities are designed–the size of the buildings and streets — we can
fundamentally change the footprint of humans on the environment,” says
Karen Seto, an associate professor at Yale University in Urban
Environment. She also notes that there is much to be gained from
retrofitting old cities with new plans and technologies.
Other eco-city experts are excited about the new Masdar City,
located just outside Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
One of the major goals of this ambitious $22 billion project, which
broke ground in 2008, is to be a city with zero waste and zero carbon
emissions. To that end, Masdar will feature many urban uses of green
technologies. For instance, one of the solar technologies it is testing
is called “concentrated solar power,” a tracking system with mirrors
and lenses that focus sunlight on water to heat it so that it can power
steam generators. The new Masdar Institute of Science and Technology,
developed with the help of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
will also be home to research and development for sustainable
“The cities of the past didn’t have to think about issues like climate change
and energy volatility,” says Warren Karlenzig, chief executive of urban
consultancy Common Current and a fellow of the Post Carbon Institute.
But cities of the future can’t afford to ignore such issues, says
Karlenzig, especially given the ever-increasing population.
Meanwhile, many of these brand new cities will
be completed or significantly developed within the next five to 10
years, when their implications for the future will be better
Says Karlenzig: “By the end of this decade,
we’re really going to be seeing what these cities are like, how they
operate and if they do make more sense than organically evolved
In Pictures: 12 Brand New Cities
Courtesy of The Pearl
1. The Pearl, Qatar
Like Dubai’s Palm Islands, The Pearl is a man-made island, one that
spans 1.5 square miles in the shape of a string of pearls. Billed as the
“Riviera Arabia,” it will include luxury villa apartments and three
5-star hotels, as well as high-end retail shops and restaurants. This
$2.5 billion project is located in Doha’s West Bay Lagoon area. The
global recession has pushed back The Pearl’s completion date to 2013,
but it currently has a number of shops and activities open to tourists.
CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP/Getty Images
2. Naypyidaw, Myanmar
In what was probably a political and strategic decision in 2005, the
Myanmar government relocated its capital to Naypyidaw, an undeveloped
site more than 200 miles north of its previous capital, Yangon.
Subsequently named Naypyidaw, or “city of kings,” the city is still
under construction, but already has a population of nearly 1 million,
which would make it Myanmar’s third-largest city. Some of the main
attractions to this sprawling 2.7-square mile city include its
zoological gardens and water park.
3. Masdar City, United Arab Emirates
Located just outside of Abu Dhabi, Masdar City broke ground in 2008
and is one of the most ambitious new eco-cities being built today. Zero
carbon and zero waste are atop this $22-billion project’s list of
goals, as well as the sole use of renewable energy sources, the
implementation of a mass transit system and the construction of the
Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. The city’s planners expect
the city to be completed over the next decade and to attract up to
4. Songdo International Business District, South Korea
Once undeveloped mudflats 40 miles southwest of Seoul, Songdo is
becoming a smart urban center with an integrated network of utility,
transportation, real estate and recreation systems. This manmade island,
started in 2001, is a $35 billion project that will encompass 1,500
acres, house 65,000 residents and is slated for completion in 2014.
Green transportation systems and underground pneumatic tubes for garbage
collection are just a couple of the technologies being implemented for
Songdo. It currently has more than 100 buildings, including a
7,800-person apartment complex, a 100-acre central park and a Sheraton
5. Tianjin Eco-City, China
Though China is not exactly known for being eco-friendly, it does
have a number of eco-cities in the works, including the Tianjin Eco-City
in northeast China. This $22 billion project covers 11.5 square miles
and will include green public transportation systems and a power plant
fueled by organic waste. The first phase of the city is scheduled to be
finished by next year, with an animation center and a public housing
project with 500 affordable units. The entire project is expected to
take about 10 to 15 years to finish and will house around 350,000
6. Dholera, India
Located in the northwest part of India in Gujarat, Dholera is a new
project on what is now largely rural land, and it will be part of a
global manufacturing and trading hub. Dholera is also the first city in a
series of cities across a larger project, the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial
Corridor (DMIC), a 93-mile stretch down the west coast of the
subcontinent. With the DMIC, the Indian government aims to double the
number of jobs in the region and quadruple its exports within just five
Jeppe Wikstrom/Getty Images
7. Hammarby Sjostad, Sweden
While not brand new, this once-polluted former industrial site just
south of Stockholm has risen from the ashes to become one of Europe’s
most eco-friendly towns. One of the most distinguishing features of the
lakeside town is its waste collection system: an extensive series of
hydraulic tubes that collects trash, recycling it to create electricity,
heat or compost.
Hammarby’s city plan also enables and encourages citizens to walk or
use public transportation rather than cars. Construction is ongoing,
but the town is expected to house some 35,000 people and be completed
AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon
8. Sejong City, South Korea
Sejong City was originally proposed by the government as the location
for South Korea’s new capital in 2005. This year, however, the Korean
government is planning to turn Sejong City into a hub of renewable
energy and sustainability, education, science and business. This $14.6
billion project, 100 miles south of Seoul, is scheduled for completion
by 2020 and will house a population of 500,000. It will also be home to
the Korea Rare Isotope Accelerator and Basic Science Research
Institute, which will be finished by 2015.
9. Energy Cities: Qatar, Libya, Kazakhstan, India
The Energy City initiative is a series of cities being planned and
built across several countries, with the dual goals of being
energy-efficient and self-sustainable and also being business centers to
global and regional energy companies. The first Energy City, which
will be in Qatar, is scheduled for completion by 2012. The $2.6 billion
project will encompass an area of about a half a square mile and will
employ up to 20,000 people.
Andrew Butterton / Alamy
10. BedZED, U.K.
Beddington Zero Energy Development, or BedZED, is the U.K.’s largest
mixed-use sustainable community, located south of London in a town
called Wallington. The project was completed in 2002 and includes around
The BedZED community says it has reduced its energy use in heating by
81%, its car use by 64% and its water use by 58%. In addition, it
recycles about 60% of its waste.
Omar Salem/AFP/Getty Images
12. Iskandar, Malaysia
Established in 2006, Iskandar, Malaysia, is located on the southern
tip of Malaysia and encompasses an area of about one square mile. The
city was built to be a new metropolitan hub in the region, to attract
businesses as well as residents with planned communities and
environmentally friendly buildings. It includes five “flagship zones,”
including a financial district, technology park and port, and is
scheduled for completion by 2025.
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