Unexpected Airline Innovations

Two airlines are taking a broader view of their mission. Virgin Atlantic and Emirates have recently helped bring two innovations to the market, and neither has anything to do with moving people from one airport to another.

Virgin Atlantic has sponsored Taxi2 (, which helps travelers find ride-share partners at their destination airport. What a great idea - helps travelers save some money, and reduces carbon emissions by using fewer taxis.

Emirates funded the development of iLingual, an iPhone app that translates spoken English phrases into French, German or Arabic. You have to see the video to believe it.

What's the big deal about these two off-the-radar developments? After all, neither one addresses any of the large-scale problems faced by airlines or their often-frustrated customers. It's that both show a much more sophisticated view of what travelers need.

One addresses making travel more affordable, and the other makes travel more enjoyable. These innovations are a step in the important direction of stimulating demand. Emirates and Virgin Atlantic recognize that reducing the barriers to travel is a worthy goal. Our industry needs more efforts like these.

These thoughts are excerpted with permission from Scott Gillespie's blog, Gillespie's Guide to Travel Procurement.