Vice-President, Inflight Product
Dan leads the strategic development of flydubai’s in-flight experience. His responsibilities include the evolution of the cabin interiors, management of the in-flight entertainment and connectivity products, and retail and catering on board. Most recently, he led the redesign of flydubai’s in-flight experience that culminated in the 2017 unveiling of the airline’s all-new Boeing 737 MAX.
Frequent flight: DXB–PRG
Years in the industry: 19
Favorite airport: OOL
Seatback or PED? Both. Seatback to watch, PED to connect.
Passport stamp you wish you had: Madagascar
What’s a common misconception about the airline industry in the Middle East?
Industry suppliers have the perception that the region has unlimited resources. As reported by IATA, the profit margins of airlines in the Middle East are among the lowest in the world. We are committed to offering our customers the best possible product choices while maintaining a strong focus on cost – we count on our suppliers to recognize that. However, there are tremendous growth and unique opportunities in our region with mutual benefits for the airline and the supplier.
What challenge is flydubai facing that’s specific to the region?
One of the most enjoyable challenges we face is to develop a consistent product that meets the needs of a remarkably diverse passenger mix. We cater to more than 2.5 billion people, which is more than one-third of the world’s population. By allowing our customers to choose from as many as 16 different meal choices at the time of booking, for example, we ensure that everyone who wants to eat on a flight can do so, and those who don’t want to eat don’t have to pay for a meal in the price of their ticket.
What trends do you have your eye on right now?
We cannot underestimate the potential of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality. There are many use cases for our industry, and the technology is just in its infancy. I have reservations about VR’s role in the context of in-flight entertainment, but behind the scenes, it will be a powerful tool for airlines, with applications for crew training, aircraft inspection and maintenance, cabin design visualization and seat prototyping, to name a few. We have only just scratched the surface with this technology.
“I have reservations about virtual reality’s role in the context of in-flight entertainment, but behind the scenes, it will be a powerful tool for airlines.”
Every job has a cool factor. What’s yours?
I get to design the cabin interiors for billions of dollars’ worth of airplanes; make sure our customers can sleep soundly while being thrust through the sky; deliver countless choices of food and beverage options and access to hundreds of Hollywood blockbusters; and enable them to stay connected throughout their journey.
Describe the airline passenger experience of the near future.
In January, Amazon opened a brick-and-mortar grocery store in Seattle, where there are no check-out counters: You walk in, take what you want from the shelves and walk out. Imagine an airport that employs the same type of technology. There would be no need to stop or engage with anyone. Your ticket, boarding pass, passport, visa, lounge invitation and baggage receipts would all be stored in an app on your phone (which can stay in your pocket) and a combination of facial recognition, biometrics and Bluetooth beacon technology would take care of the rest. It will happen.
If you could sit next to anyone on a plane who would it be?
Roger Federer, of course. He’s the greatest tennis player of all time: humble and gracious.
“APEX in Profile: Dan Kerrison” was originally published in the 8.4 August/September issue of APEX Experience magazine.