Introducing the 2017 APEX Awards Winners

From left: Joe Leader, APEX CEO; Sir Tim Clark, Emirates president and Lifetime Achievement Award winner; Brian Kelly, The Points Guy and APEX Awards MC. All images: Vance Walstra

The PaxEx industry’s best innovations and initiatives were recognized this evening at the APEX Awards, hosted by Brian Kelly, aka The Points Guy, at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center.

Official Airline Ratings

Using the TripIt app from Concur, travelers rated more than 500,000 flights on a five-star scale, from October 2016 through July 2017. The ratings determined the winners of the Passenger Choice Awards, with four- and five-star-rated airlines further honored in the categories of Global, Major Regional and Low-Cost airlines.

Five-Star Winners

Global Low-Cost Regional
Aeroflot  JetBlue  Air Astana
Air New Zealand  Southwest Airlines  Alaska Airlines
All Nippon Airways  Virgin America  Avianca
Asiana Airlines  WestJet  Bangkok Airways
Austrian Airlines  Caribbean Airlines
Cathay Pacific  Hawaiian Airlines
China Airlines  Icelandair
Delta Air Lines  Middle East Airlines
Emirates  Virgin Australia
Etihad Airways
Garuda Indonesia
Japan Airlines
Korean AIr
LATAM Airlines Group
Qatar Airways
Singapore Airlines
Swiss International Airlines
Turkish Airlines
Virgin Atlantic

Four-Star Winners

Global Low-Cost Regional
Aeromexico AirAsia Air Tahiti Nui
Air Canada Eurowings Brussels Airlines
Air France Interjet Fiji Airways
American Airlines Jeju Air Hainan Airlines
British Airways Norwegian Air International Hong Kong Airlines
Finnair Scoot Jet Airways
KLM SpiceJet Luxair
Scandinavian Airlines Wizz Air Malindo Air
Saudi Arabian Airlines Oman Air
South African Airways Royal Jordanian
TAP Portugal S7 Airlines
Thai Airways SriLankan Airlines
United Airlines
Vietnam Airlines

Passenger Choice Awards

Best Seat Comfort
Virgin America

Best Cabin Service
Qatar Airways

Best Food and Beverage
Qatar Airways

Best Entertainment

Best Wi-Fi

APEX Awards

Nearly 30 APEX members determined the top three finalists in each of the APEX Awards’ eight categories. A panel of industry media experts voted on the winner of each category in a final round of judging.

Best Video Curation
VA IFE: catering for big expectations and diverse appetites
Virgin Australia

Driven to stay competitive against the landscape of streaming services, Virgin Australia pushed the boundaries of traditional movie and TV show offerings by sourcing short films, educational content and music videos from reputable Australian schools, film festivals and competitions. Additionally, the carrier curated a collection of Marvel films and behind-the-scenes content to coincide with Gallery of Modern Art’s (QAGOMA) exhibition on the cinematic universe of Marvel comic book characters.

Best Original Audio
Air New Zealand Audio: enhancing the passenger experience
Air New Zealand

Kiwi superstar Lorde’s latest album, Melodrama, was available on board Air New Zealand’s fleet on the same day of its worldwide release – up to six weeks ahead of other airlines – an achievement made possible with the help of Universal Music Group, Panasonic and Global Eagle. Cabin crew celebrated the album launch by dancing down the aircraft aisles to the singer-songwriter’s biggest hit, “Green Light,” adding some social media buzz to the event.

Best Original Video
Emirates Product Video

Emirates presents a fresh take on the promotional airline videos used to inform passengers about the features of their flight, minimize cabin crew announcements and reinforce brand values. Created by Spitfire Productions, with music by DJ and production duo Hollaphonic, the video shows the Emirates experience in multiple parts, features a famous actor and uses CGI to create a world that blends abstract animations and the familiarity of a human face.

Best Cabin Innovation
Airbus Operations

To make recycling a simpler, swifter process on board, Airbus Operations has come up with a recycling trolley that enables flight crew to presort cabin waste in the aisle and reduce waste volume by 30 percent. The trolley has two compartments, one for recyclables and one for non-recyclables, both of which can be compressed by pushing on the trolley handle. Custom modules for stacking plastic cups, collecting liquid waste and crushing aluminum cans can also be added to the trolley.

Best Passenger Comfort Innovation
Airspace Single Aisle Interior

Following the four pillars of the Airspace cabin interior DNA, which was introduced on the Airbus A350 and extended to the A330, Airbus’ Airspace product for single-aisle aircraft will ensure a consistent experience for passengers flying on long- and short-haul flights. Cabin features include a state-of-the-art lighting system, increased cabin width and overhead bin space, an 18-inch wide economy seats and a new lavatory design.

Best Inflight Entertainment Innovation
Level Portal

For the launch of its new low-cost carrier, Level, IAG partnered with Black Swan and Massive to allow passengers to manage their in-flight entertainment experience by pairing their personal electronic devices with the seatback system. Highly secure handshaking mechanisms enable communication and integration for secure payment of food, drinks, amenity kits, duty-free goods and Wi-Fi packages. Through cryptography, purchases can still be made when connectivity is not available.

Best Personalization Innovation
SITAONAIR delivers exclusive in-flight e-commerce experience for Emirates

Emirates’ in-flight portal, developed by SITAONAIR, enables passengers to log into the Internet ONAIR portal with their Skywards credentials for a personalized passenger experience. The integration offers many services including a custom welcome message, Wi-Fi pricing and offerings tailored to the passenger’s tier level. Frequnt-flyer miles can also be used toward the payment of Wi-Fi sessions and more.

Best In-Flight Connectivity Innovation
European Aviation Network
Inmarsat Aviation and Deutsche Telekom

The European Aviation Network (EAN) is the first integrated satellite and LTE-based ground network to be used for passenger connectivity in Europe’s aviation industry. Deutsche Telekom and Inmarsat’s new combined terrestrial and satellite network provides travelers in Europe with high-speed in-flight Internet access, and airlines with a cost-efficient, scalable connectivity solution.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Tim Clark, Emirates

APEX Media recently interviewed Tim Clark about digital trends and personalization in the airline passenger experience.

Outstanding Contribution Award

Pierre A. Schuberth, Thales Inflyt Experience

Pierre has been a major contributor to ARINC and APEX (formerly WAEA) since the early 1990s. He has participated on numerous APEX Working Groups and initiatives. In 2006, he coauthored the WAEA white paper to the US Department of Transportation, which detailed the state of closed captioning in in-flight entertainment.