A British Airways flight has touched down at London Heathrow from San Francisco this morning, having been on quite a unique journey – it hosted the Pitch on a Plane competition using on-board WiFi.
The airline joined up with Founders Forum to give five start-ups the chance to pitch their ideas to a host of judges on board the flight including Alex Cruz, British Airways Chairman and CEO and leading tech entrepreneurs, investors and CEOs.
Using British Airways’ onboard high-speed WiFi, the start-ups were on the ground in the UK while a team of judges cruised at 30,000 feet on flight BA284.
Following the pitches and a Q&A session, the judges chose three finalists who will pitch their idea face-to-face at the Founders Forum in London on June 13, 2019. Experts taking seats on the judging panel included the President of WeTransfer and GM of Robotics at Google X.
The entries were focused on air travel innovation and the ideas they presented included a solo travel app, airline inventory management using blockchain technology and a new jet engine design. The top three finalists are:
Pruvo –The website aims to save travellers money even after they have booked a hotel room. It searches for hotel price drops secret deals.
Pluto – A travel insurance app that claims to be easy to understand, hassle-free and there when customers need it.
Reynolds Aero – Reynolds builds engines for flying cars using a new type of gas turbine. It is extending the range of electric flight to make Urban Air Mobility possible.
Alex Cruz, Chairman and CEO of British Airways, said: “British Airways has a long-standing history of driving innovation in the aviation industry and it remains a huge focus for us this year. With the initiation of our BA2119 programme focused on fuels, customer experience and careers of the future, as well as a £6.5 billion investment designed to take British Airways to 2020 and beyond.
Being able to run a pitch process between the ground and the air is something we’d have never dreamed possible, now with the introduction of high-speed WiFi at 30,000 feet it’s a reality. We look forward to harnessing the talent that exists globally to remain at the forefront of aviation.”
The lucky winner of Pitch on a Plane will receive 100,000 On Business points in British Airways’ business loyalty programme (equivalent to four return flights in World Traveller Plus to New York JFK from London Heathrow), 100,000 Avios, a profile in Business Life magazine and a business meeting with Brent Hoberman, founder of lastminute.com and the Founders network.
British Airways is rolling out industry-leading high-speed streaming WiFi on its flights. The roll-out of industry leading WiFi forms part of British Airways’ £6.5bn investment for its customers over the next five years.
Over half of its long-haul fleet are currently Wi-Fi enabled and all new aircraft will arrive with it. The remaining fleet will be fitted over the next few years. The airline is also fitting 128 long-haul aircraft with new interiors, ensuring power is available in every seat and taking delivery of 72 new aircraft. The airline has also revealed a brand-new Club Suite (business class seat) with direct aisle access which will debut on the Airbus A350 later this year.
The challenge is being launched as part of British Airways’ Centenary programme: BA2119 as the airline looks to the next 100 years of flight in three distinct areas – customer experience, sustainable fuels and careers. The airline will explore the future of customer experience by working with futurologists, commissioning dedicated research and through competitions like this.
Looking to fuels, the airline has challenged universities to develop a pathway for the UK to achieve leadership on the future of sustainable aviation fuels, drawing on their own expertise.
Finally, British Airways will be investigating the future of aviation careers and children’s attitudes towards jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to inspire young children in to the world of STEM.
This is in addition to other key announcements, including the introduction of the A350 to the fleet, our new Club Suite business class seat, investment in the airline’s cabins including First and World Traveller Plus, improvements to lounges across the network and new routes including Osaka, Charleston, Pittsburgh and Islamabad.