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Wendy is an IFE Agent responsible for aggregating airline news specifically related to Inflight entertainment. She compiles stories relevant to business travelers, airline industry folks, marketers and tech geeks. IFE News doesn't create original content, but rather posts compelling editorial from global media outlets.

Saving weight the Wi-Fi way

Dec 5th 2012, 16:46 by A.H. | TORONTO

EVERYONE seems to be carrying some sort of computer on board aeroplanes these days, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet or even ye olde laptop PC. So it makes a certain amount of sense for airlines to offer in-flight entertainment that piggybacks on those devices. One reason, as pointed out last week by Gregg Saretsky, the head of WestJet Airlines, is that getting rid of seat-back screens altogether shaves around 1,200 pounds (544kg) off an aeroplane’s weight. And lighter craft need less fuel.

Backed by research showing that at least 80% of Canadians bring their own devices onboard, WestJet plans to start testing a wireless entertainment system in the first half of next year. If successful, this will replace the 24 live television channels and four channels of pre-loaded content WestJet currently offers. The airline also rents pre-loaded tablet computers for C$10-$12 on some flights. Depending on how much the wireless service costs, passengers could get access to about 1,000 films, live sports events and business channels along with their internet connectivity.

Mr Saretsky reckons the service would earn money, too. “We don’t want to add on a bunch of features people don’t value,” he said. “If you value it, you’ll pay for it.”

Other airlines are looking at similar services. Qantas has started fitting out its Boeing B767s with iPads in every seat, offering 200 hours of on-demand in-flight entertainment. By March 2013, all 16 of the planes should be equipped with the Q streaming service and eventually passengers will be able to use their own wireless-enabled devices. The overhead entertainment system remains available, though. And next year Allegiant Air will begin offeringvideo-on-demand on its 757s, which primarily fly between the US mainland and Hawaii, while Russia’s Utir Aviation will also start wireless in-flight entertainment in 2013.

This is all well and good for the technically minded passenger. But if WestJet’s new service works out, the 20% of its passengers who do not bring a wireless-enabled device onboard will have to find different ways to entertain themselves. The least they deserve is a guaranteed window seat.

Original Post:http: //www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2012/12/flight-entertainment

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