3 In-flight entertainment trends to watch in 2013

IFE Trends 2013

Who doesn’t love a little prognosticating?

As we’ve been putting our plans in place for the coming year(s), we’ve been reviewing key trends in the in-flight entertainment industry. We decided to pass along a few of those that we consider the most important to keep an eye on.

Bring Your Own Device

Any trend list that doesn’t contain passenger owned devices would be mistaken.

Just last month, ATWOnline.com reported that the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has put together a group charged with researching portable electronic devices during a six month study.

The study, which will review current inflight PED policies and procedures, will ‘determine when these devices can be used safely during flight.’ It will not consider the use of cell phones for voice communications during flight as that is prohibited by the US Federal Communications Commission. (ATWOnline.com)”

Airline provided systems still experience high uptake so don’t start tearing your system out just yet. But the day for streaming systems is dawning, which is evident by how many IFE manufacturers have featured streaming systems at recent industry events.

You can find specifics on the types of devices being brought onboard and how passengers use them in our 2012 Passenger Survey Report.

Gate-to-Gate Entertainment

British Airways took a big step last November, as reported by Canoe.ca, when it received approval from the Civil Aviation Authority allowing passengers to begin using the IFE system from the moment they reach their seats until their final destination.

All in all, the airline calculates that with the new regulation, passengers will have an extra hour of viewing time…The agreement was reached following a series of trials that showed that the new in-flight system does not present any safety issues. (Canoe.ca)”

Air Canada has offered gate-to-gate entertainment on some of its routes since 2009.

Adding almost an hour to entertainment time improves the value proposition of IFE systems to passengers and airlines.

  • For passengers, the extra time means entertaining kids longer, starting your vacation sooner, etc.
  • For airlines, an extra hour means short haul routes that could not previously support an IFE system because there just wasn’t enough time could now use IFE. That additional time also exposes passengers to more advertising opportunities.

Using IFE to Provide Solutions

For decades, passengers have been dealt with being cut off from everyone, including the airline providing the flight, as soon as the door closes. If you needed something, then you pushed the call button and hoped the flight attendant was having a good day.

Social media has taught consumers two lessons: anyone can be accessed via a computer or smart device and companies should respond in real time.That trend manifests itself in two interesting ways in-flight.

  1. When you board a Virgin American flight, the screen in front of you asks if you want to upgrade. You can pull out your card, pay and only then does the flight attendant become involved. In other words, the IFE system provides a solution, possibly to a problem you didn’t even know you had yet, through innovative marketing and product bundling.
  2. Passengers can use real time communication services such as instant message or Twitter to interact with airlines while in-flight to solve problems before they become viral videos or sensational news in the blogosphere. Again, this potential removes the involvement of flight crew.

The idea is two simply change how we see IFE systems. Generally, we think of them as just an entertainment box. Phones were just that, devices for calling people, until Steve Jobs came out with the iPhone. True innovation has high, potential gains.

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About Ben Fuller

Ben, originally from the Seattle area, has traveled the globe over the last 15 years working in sales and marketing for several technology companies. He is now the Director of Sales for Central and South America at digEcor.

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