Knowing me, knowing you

Brazilian operator TAM is a Super Trouper, and not simply because it offers Abba’s greatest hits on its excellent in-flight entertainment systems (see pic). The carrier, which is readying to join the Star Alliance in April, today announced a heaping big deal with Amadeus to replace scads of legacy systems with the IT giant’s Altea customer management solution. Read all the details here.

TAM photo.jpgI had the chance to sit down with TAM and Amadeus executives this morning in Sao Paolo, and the conversation was interesting, to say the very least.

First of all, let me tell you that TAM is serious about in-flight connectivity. The carrier already offers satellite telephone functionality plus basic text messaging and email through its IFE systems on international aircraft (I tried the former and got through to Bedford, Pennsylvania without a bother – a price of $6/min might force one to keep such calls short, however). Side note: Isn’t it ludicrous that wired – and wireless – calls are happening throughout the world, but the USA continues to hold some sort of baseless, anti-phone attitude?

Anyhoo, TAM doesn’t roll like that (thank goodness). The carrier is getting ready to bring OnAir’s mobile connectivity solution to Airbus A320 narrowbodies. “The first aircraft is coming this year with the system,” says TAM vice-president commercial and planning Paulo Castello Branco. As such, TAM will become the first company on the continent to offer the Airbus/SITA joint venture’s offering.

TAM tells me that the system is expected to be operational by the second half of 2009, “but it depends on the approval of ANAC and Anatel (National Agency of Telecommunications), as well as the legislation that authorizes cell phones use only when the airplane is landed and with its doors opened”.

Okay, RWG, you jump from Amadeus to integrated IFE to OnAir, what gives? Well, despite the fact that these things seem mutually exclusive (to some), they don’t have to be. The Altea solution keeps passengers’ flight histories and individual preferences referenced, and so it is just the sort of IT platform that will help usher in THE CABIN OF THE FUTURE (cue Star Trek soundtrack).

So, let’s lay out the scenario. You’re an airline and you’ve got vital customer profiles – care of Altea – at your fingertips. And, lookie here, you’ve also got a robust in-flight connectivity link (care of OnAir or AeroMobile or Aircell or Row 44 or Panasonic, etc). Maybe now you can customize the passengers’ in-flight experience in real time. And the passengers can feel like you (the airline) really care about them and all their interests and pastimes (perhaps a carrier should try to flog Mamma Mia tickets to Runway Girl, for example).

What if you’re a passenger on a delayed flight and you need to rebook a connecting flight? Well maybe you’ll be able to do that through your IFE system, which might know the carrier’s inventory (and be pulling it from Altea’s inventory tool).

“The scenario you described is very feasible using Altea,” says Amadeus director global airline IT Jean-Philippe Mesure, noting that certain data “can be fed to individual seats”.

He adds: “The ease of integration [with Altea] allows a lot of new business opportunities for the airline.”

Knowing me, knowing you, it is then…

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6 Responses to Knowing me, knowing you

  1. Dave August 25, 2009 at 5:40 pm #

    Here in the US, we’re only progressive in our own minds… so to speak.

    So San Paolo… try not to get kidnapped or murdered or anything. Being murdered sucks…

  2. alloycowboy August 26, 2009 at 3:14 pm #

    Lets see here, six bucks a minute works out to 16.6667 cents a second, which is just “skyway robbery”. At that rate Mary won’t have to worry about getting mugged by the shady characters in San Paolo, just TAM’s new IFE system.

  3. Dave August 26, 2009 at 7:31 pm #

    Mary: Who are you?
    TAM FA: I’m a TAM flight attendant, and I want IFE!
    Mary: You too? Will you be my friend?
    TAM FA: Put it there, girlfriend!
    [Mary shakes hands]
    TAM FA: I meant your wallet.

  4. Brad August 27, 2009 at 12:37 am #

    Dave, the only difference between being murdered in São Paulo and being murdered in Boston is the idiom of the last words you hear.

    RWG, enjoy your stay. Have some barbecues, caipirinhas and visit the Ibirapuera Park.

  5. Mary Kirby August 27, 2009 at 4:55 pm #

    Gulp…when you put it like that it sounds rather, um, out of my price range.

  6. Pee Wee March 27, 2010 at 4:33 am #

    It’s my favorite group, I really enjoy all things they make so far, but the initial albums continues to be some of the greatest i think