In-flight Entertainment: The Best Of All Worlds

Airlines globally are grappling with a $64,000 question: how to keep the discerning passenger entertained during a long-haul flight.

While wi-fi is slowly coming on board on a variety of airlines, there is an ongoing dialogue as to whether to mix and match entertainments, offer exclusive back-of-the-chair programs or to leave it to the passenger to decide on their own choice of on-screen entertainment.

What appears to have sparked this current issue is the passengers that come armed with kindles, ipads, tablets and even smartphones as a source for their entertainment.

Airlines are now subtly looking at the financial bottom-line as to why do they need to draw up plans for new state-of-the-art systems when, in fact, the passenger is already coming pre-loaded with movie releases to watch. All the airline needs add is the food and the passenger has their mobile TV/movie screen.

In-flight Entertainment

According to industry sources, airlines can save $90,000 per plane per year in fuel costs by ditching in-flight hubs. Budget airlines have taken the lead by installing tablet-shaped holes to slot devices into for savvy passengers.

What seems to be shaping up is the passenger is happy with their own devices as long as the airline can support the system.

However, while airlines may well be happy to make budget savings, passengers are equally adept at spotting and demanding cost-savings being passed on down the line.

It could well be that the balancing act is indeed a mix and match - providing great entertainment via paid-for wifi; loaning tablets to passengers on flight, or bringing in wi-fi altogether and allowing passengers to communicate with the outside world.

and, The Best Of In-flight Entertainment

Boarding an airline for the first time can often mean a lottery of what you face for in-flight entertainment.

Long-haul flyers such as Turkish Airlines, Qatar, Virgin, Emirates, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Etihad and Cathay Pacific are the standouts.

Emirates is still the platinum provider of entertainment given that it has been voted the best provider of in-flight entertainment for 10 consecutive years by Skytrax.

In-flight Entertainment

It has more than 1,800 channels of premium entertainment to keep passengers busy during the flight, with the latest and best movies, television, audio and games from around the world.

Lufthansa is now stepping up to the plate in offering wirelessly streamed movies to passengers in trans-European flights to their own devices via an onboard server.

BA is also upgrading its IFE on 18 planes. Virgin and Qantas offer similar systems to Lufthansa, while Qatar has boldly set its stall on sticking with on-board systems.

Qatar's chief executive Akbar Al Baker backed his airline thinking up by stating: "Imagine in an airplane you have 200 passengers all switching on tablets. What interference that would provide to aircraft communications and avionics is still not proven."

Delta has gone further announcing it will offer free in-flight entertainment on all Delta and Delta Connection flights over one and a half hours in duration.

The Delta Studio free entertainment service will be available on embedded seat-back in-flight entertainment or on-demand video-streaming on Delta’s Wi-Fi-equipped aircraft.

UK airline Monarch has also stepped up, with the release of MPlayer, an app that gives passengers access to movies and TV shows while in flight and linked to an iPad or tablet.

What is definite is that the in-flight entertainment system is destined to become the hot battleground between airlines in not luring passengers on to long-haul flights, but keeping their loyalty in the future.