Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Great Design Chronicles: T'way Air

Update: 한국어 번역: http://thedarren.blogspot.kr/2012/10/blog-post.html

As an engineer and designer, I'm always delighted when I come across great design or delightful user experiences. So when I happened upon a wonderfully charming experience on a budget regional airline, I was a bit taken aback.

T'way Air is a small airline that flies between Seoul and a few other nearby cities (Taipei, Bangkok, Fukuoka, and Jeju). I took it roundtrip to Jeju on a last-minute trip over the weekend. The flight is only about 55 minutes in the air, so you would expect it to be an hour of suffering and then over. But instead, T'way has the cutest hour of flight possible.

First off, the flight attendants are amazingly friendly. This is not a big surprise for a Korean airline, but as a general rule, service and friendliness are compromised on short flights. Yet instead, I can honestly say that the flight attendants on T'way were among the most friendly and personable from any flight I've taken in my life.

Next, on the way back from Jeju, after the seat belt sign had been turned off, an announcement came over the loud speaker. They said that one of the flight attendants was going to play the flute for us. It was seriously the cutest thing ever. She was clearly not a professional flautist just moonlighting as a flight attendant, but she stood confidently by the intercom and performed two songs over the incredibly low-fidelity airplane PA system. She looked a little nervous, but when she finished, the entire plane applauded for her, and she shyly smiled and headed to the back of the plane to receive pats on the back from her fellow crew members. I wanted to give her a hug.

Finally, the flight attendants went down the aisle and stopped to chat with all the people they remembered from an earlier outbound flight, and offered to take photos with a digital SLR and email them to the customers.

And somewhere, amongst all of this, they managed to efficiently serve drinks and pick up the cups at exactly the right time!

Seriously, something is going right at that airline. When the captain introduces himself after takeoff, he signs off with, "감사합니다. 사랑합니다. 티웨이!", which means, "Thank you. We love you. T'way!"

We love you, too. And we'll be flying with you again.

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