Ever ironed 308 cushion covers at once or closed every last window shade on a Boeing 777? Austrian Airlines Innovation Manager Julian Fischer takes a look behind the scenes at the recent myPanorama 360° photo shoots, and explains why these and similar activities are becoming the icing on the cake of this ground-breaking project…
How it all began
Austrian Airlines photographed the then-new addition to its fleet, the Embraer 195, in a 360° view back in 2016. By doing so, the company was laying the groundwork for offering passengers virtual access to the interior of an aircraft for the first time. Now, Innovation Manager Julian Fischer has ushered in the project’s next stage by introducing 360° extensive tours of all the aircraft types used by the company. “It wasn’t as far-fetched as it sounds, actually; we wanted to create a 360° view of every aircraft in the Austrian fleet, so we could show people the services they would receive in an authentic way. ‘What you see is what you get’, as the saying goes.”
Organising the photo shoots
So far, so good. Hang on, though – how is a ‘360° view’ actually created? Essentially, it involves taking vast numbers of photographs of the interior fixtures and fittings of the Austrian fleet. These are then merged together and transformed into a virtual tour. A range of issues needs to be factored in before those images can be created, of course. Detailed planning and coordination with Austrian Technical Services is particularly important, for example, because agreement needs to be reached over how aircraft stand-times should be optimised perfectly to accommodate the shoots without affecting flight operations. The thinking behind this is simple enough: the aircraft are always on the move during the day (as they should be), and only return to the hangar for servicing. For 360° shoots, therefore, it wasn’t just normal office opening hours that needed to be used, but also Saturdays, Sundays, bank holidays and the hours of darkness. Shoots on board the Embraer 195 were carried out at night, for example (between 10.00 pm and 3.00 am); the Boeing 767 was photographed on a Sunday; and the Bombardier Q400 was shot on Easter Monday.
In addition to factoring in the needs of Technical Services and internal responsibilities of marketing and product management, of course, the ‘hardware’ had to be staged perfectly. For our aircraft, that meant an extra portion of TLC from our dedicated cleaning staff. The basic prerequisite for this was a love for detail. Because make no mistake – a person looking at the photos of the cabins will be able to make out every inconsistency between the countless images, no matter how tiny the difference may be. If a seat belt that has been placed wrongly, or a window shade left open or closed by accident, the viewer’s eye is absolutely sure to be drawn to the change.
We want the 360° views to show the products and services provided on Austrian Airlines aircraft in just the same way as our passengers experience them in the real world. On long-haul shoots, of course, that means the DO & CO Flying Chef needs to be there. “The Flying Chef was responsible for preparing the menus perfectly, just like on real flights. Our team found themselves standing there salivating over his delicious creations on more than one occasion,” says Alice Ranzenbacher, responsible for Product Communication.
Secret details revealed
Shoots of this nature are continually presenting the team with challenges, of course, which then need to be solved on an ad hoc basis. Look carefully, for example, and you’ll see all the window shades in the cabin have been dimmed. The reason for this is simply that lighting on aircraft is the same at all points, so having no light at all disrupts the shoots.
Another challenge for the team doing the shoot were the reading lamps. Because the lamps are flexible and rotatable, their beams of light were always catching slightly different points on the seat – so each individual light had to be adjusted down to the last millimetre by hand.
The shoots are of such high quality that the viewer can even make out details that would normally be invisible to the naked eye. During one shoot, the team noticed that the newly delivered cushions on the aircraft often had small creases in them. Florian Glinserer, who is responsible for the profitability of Business Class on long-haul routes, explains how this challenge was solved: “To ensure the details were being shown in an appropriate way, we ironed and rearranged every single cushion. This was undoubtedly a learning experience for the team – and one which will have improved their ironing skills back at home.”
The views in detail
Austrian Airlines is the first carrier in the world to be offering this innovative service. Thanks to its responsive design, myPanorama can be used on desktop computers, tablets and smartphones. 360° views are currently available for the following aircraft, and can be accessed centrally, along with the Product & Service pages, by going to www.austrian.com/360 :
- Boeing 777
- Boeing 767
- Airbus 321
- Airbus 320
- Airbus 319
- Embraer 195
- Bombardier Q400
Here are some examples of the services and details the 360° views of the aircraft in question will show you:
- Business Class/Economy Class
- In-flight shopping
- Seat reservation/seat with greater legroom
- DO & CO à la carte menus
Try out now: Click here