About the Post

Author Information

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.

Faubert: Wi-Fi? Games? TV? Airlines say, we got that

This summer, Americans are expected to go on vacation in record numbers.

Between June 1 and Aug. 31, an estimated 210 million passengers will fly on U.S. carriers, according to the trade organization Airlines for America. That’s an increase of 1.5 percent from the same period last year.

To stave off boredom while traveling, passengers today get to choose from an assortment of cutting-edge in-flight entertainment, including on-demand TV, music, movies, video games, streaming television and Wi-Fi Internet.

The fact that a fair amount of that tech didn’t exist on board airliners just a few years ago is startling. But the true surprise is how much the technology passengers carry in their pockets and carry-on bags has influenced what the airlines offer.

Depending on your choice of airline, though, your in-flight entertainment experience may include something of a learning curve.

In Europe, airlines are working on some new offerings, including acoustical seats for discrete audio without headphones, and mobile phone use in the air. In North America, regardless of airline, entertainment services are dominated by three established types: on-demand, satellite broadcast, and Wi-Fi.

In some cases, your phone can be used to access the in-flight entertainment. To do that, it must be in airplane mode, and some Apple devices may need to be pre-configured to allow access.

The Internet can be accessed on board for low-bandwidth activities, such as Web surfing and checking email, while access to streaming video, online games and voice-over-Internet phone service is usually blocked.

What’s available varies by airline.

On American Airlines and US Airways, there’s a mix of in-seat and personal-device movie and TV viewing. WiFi is available on personal devices.

The two airlines’ merger temporarily complicated matters — passengers had been required to buy separate passes for each airline — but that’s no longer the case. All-day and unlimited passes are now valid for both airlines.

Internet service is available above 10,000 feet — listen for the cabin crew to announce it, then launch your browser and sign up via usairways.com or aa.com, respectively.

On United Airlines, seat back display-based entertainment is available on all international flights, but for domestic flights, the entertainment — and Wi-Fi Internet — is accessed via passengers’ personal devices.

Android products are not yet supported on United, but the company says they will be later this year. Customers using Apple devices must download the latest United app before boarding their flight.

Laptops and notebook users should use the latest version of their preferred browser, and be forewarned: power outlets are not available on all planes yet.

United spokesperson Karen May said the airline is installing outlets in both economy and premium cabins.

Once the cabin staff announces that the service is available, connect your personal device to the “United_Wi-Fi” hotspot and go to www.unitedwifi.com for the airline’s in-flight entertainment menu.

Southwest Airlines, meanwhile, does not equip its planes with seat-back video displays. Its entertainment is accessed via passengers’ devices, and includes on-demand TV and movie content, 20 channels of live TV provided by Dish Network, and Wi-Fi Internet access.

“Devices that work include iPhone, iPad, Android Tablets and Phones, and of course your laptop and notebook,” Southwest spokeswoman Michelle Agnew said. “Kids can use their Nintendo 3DS to connect to the on board Wi-Fi and kids should also know that they don’t actually need to subscribe to the Wi-Fi to (play games) on board, since the 3DS will create its own network.”

Agnew said that providing kid-friendly entertainment is very important to Southwest. Its offerings include animated TV shows like “Littlest Pet Shop” and “Transformers: Rescue Bots,” and, for older kids, “The Simpsons.” And Agnew says Southwest has plans to expand its kid-focused content with another channel of content within the next week or so.

In addition to typical in-flight options, Southwest also offers iMessaging service for $2 a day, allowing Apple devices to use Wi-Fi to send text messages.

JetBlue Airlines: Barnstable Municipal Airport in Hyannis will become JetBlue’s 86th destination as the airline begins seasonal nonstop service from New York on Thursday. That route will be serviced exclusively by JetBlue’s fleet of Embraer E190 passenger jets.

The E190 offers customers one of the most spacious and relaxing cabins in its class, configured with 100 leather seats in a two-by-two layout, with each seat equipped with its own dedicated seatback entertainment system.

“Every customer has their own TV to play with,” says JetBlue Spokesman Morgan Johnston. “The controls are on the arm, which include standard headphone jacks. The headphone jacks on the armrests will take most headphones like those you might use for your phone or iPod.

Presently the In-Flight Entertainment system on board the E190 offers passengers free standard Direct TV live TV service with 32 channels, and 100 channels of XM-Sirius Satellite Radio, while on board WiFi is still in the planning stages.

“The 190s do not currently have Wi-Fi service installed on them; we are rolling out WiFi on our Airbus A320 fleet and once we finish that, the plan is to install WiFi service on the 190s,” Johnston explains.

“Our target for Wi-Fi is 2015.”

C.M. Boots-Faubert is a freelance writer who lives in Falmouth. Write to him at chris@boots-faubert.com.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: