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Airline Partnerships That Are Changing the Way You Travel

New alliances are enhancing the in-flight experience with added conveniences to maximize comfort.

U.S. News & World Report

Airline Partnerships That Are Changing the Way You Travel

Meal in the airplane.

With inventive services, such as premium in-flight coffee and exclusive craft beer, airlines are evolving and elevating the flight experience through new alliances.(Getty Images)

Airline partnerships have evolved past premium seat upgrades, extensive network alliances and perks and privileges available through frequent flier rewards programs. These days, airlines are introducing innovative in-flight experiences that make travelers' journeys more comfortable, culturally driven and even charitable. And with new global partnerships, airlines are wowing discerning jet-setters with services that are a cut above the rest. Here are alliances that offer added conveniences to help you get from point A to point B with maximum enjoyment and minimal hassle.

United Airlines and Illycaffe

United Airlines operates an average of nearly daily 5,000 flights with service to more than 340 airports across six continents. And now, thanks to the carrier's recent alliance with Illy, fliers can enjoy the Italian company's premium coffee blends in-flight and in United Club locations worldwide. What's more, because altitude can affect your sense of taste, United and Illy conducted in-air taste tests to ensure the company's signature blend's remains consistent on the ground and at 35,000 feet, so you don't have to compromise on quality.

Air Berlin and BRLO Craft Beer

Air Berlin is the second-largest airline in Germany, with the biggest hub in the city of Dusseldorf, Germany. And just in time for summer, Air Berlin has upgraded its onboard menu offerings to include new refreshments in cooperation with its partner, the Berlin-based craft brewery startup BRLO Craft Beer. On select Air Berlin flights, beer lovers can enjoy an exclusively created BRLO craft beer (for a small fee).

Virgin America and Rock the Vote; United and Clean the World; Delta and StoryCorps

Airline and charity partnerships haven't traditionally extended past monetary donations. But recently, major airlines have revisited their approach to work with charities to inspire social change through passenger participation. The initiative to encourage travelers to give back can be seen through Virgin America's partnership with Rock the Vote, United Airlines and Clean the World and Delta's collaboration with StoryCorps, a nonprofit organization whose mission is fostering human interaction by sharing personal stories.

As the official airline partnering with the nonprofit Rock the Vote this election season, Virgin America will encourage voter education and registration at 35,000 feet using the carrier's in-flight Wi-Fi technology. While flying with Virgin America, passengers can learn more about Rock the Vote or make a donation using their in-flight entertainment system.

Meanwhile, United Airlines, through a partnership with Clean the World, is donating unused passenger amenity kits filled with toiletries such as facial cleanser, toothpaste and hand sanitizer. Thanks to their alliance, more than 60,000 pounds of disregarded items that would otherwise would go to landfills will be donated to those in need around the globe. Once the discarded hygiene products are collected, employees assemble thousands of new kits, which include soaps, shampoos and other hygiene products. These new packets are then distributed with the hope of preventing millions of hygiene-related illnesses and minimizing environmental waste.

Finally, Delta Air Lines, through their partnership with StoryCorps, enables Delta employees to relay personal accounts reflecting the airline's culture, mission and values. The partnership will expand to include stories from Delta customers and will be viewable on the company's in-flight entertainment system. The StoryCorps interviews tell stories of joy, tragedy, success and loss. For example, one story recalls a forged bond among airline employees through shared grief over the loss of their children, and another relays a tale of two passengers who met while sitting next to each other on a Delta flight and later married.

With a growing number of airlines evolving and expanding their partnerships, it's easier than ever for travelers to enjoy enhanced in-flight experiences, lend a hand and stay engaged in their communities.

About En Route

Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.

Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.

Edited by Liz Weiss.

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