In-Flight Entertainment Advances With Adoption Of New Technology

by | Mar 7, 2019 | Airlines

Written by Marisa Garcia –

In-flight entertainment (IFE) is a key feature of an enjoyable passenger experience, whether that entertainment comes from the seat-back screen, content streamed to passengers’ own devices or from the adoption of new VR technology.

Emirates recently updated its app with a feature that lets passengers select content to stream on its ICE in-flight entertainment system before they board the plane. After boarding, passengers can pair their devices with their ICE system for automatic play-back of their choice of programming. 

With a large catalogue of content including films, television programming and podcasts, giving passengers the opportunity to review the choices available on their flight, and set up a personalized playlist with using a familiar digital interface, helps to build positive anticipation of the flight experience.

Singapore Airlines debuted its own IFE companion app in 2016 that allows passengers to set up a list of favorites in its content catalogue and connect to the airline’s KrisWorld entertainment to play selections. The Singapore Airlines app also lets passengers multi-screen; for example, by using their device to see the flight map in real time on their smartphone while watching a film on the seat-back screen.

Virtual Reality Entertainment onboard is also advancing. Working with Inflight VR, Iberia has launched a trial of new destination-inspired content on its two daily Madrid-New York flights operated on the A350-900, and on the Madrid-Tel Aviv flight operated on the Airbus A330-200.

Iberia is offering second-generation Pico devices for rent to passengers in all cabins, as available, to enjoy fully immersive games, films, city travelogues and documentaries, including experiences like a city tour of New York and diving in the Red Sea.        

“We think virtual reality has a great potential and it can change the air passenger experience as a part of the in-flight entertainment program. The viewer is no longer a mere observer, but can take a stroll in the city he or she will be visiting, or simply relax before arriving at the destination,” said Nikolas Jaeger, founder and managing director of Inflight VR.

Ignacio Toval, Iberia’s Digital Transformation Director, added, “We learned about  Inflight VR through Hangar 51, IAG’s start-up accelerator program. Since 2017, we’ve been working together to develop a VR solution that can offer a new experience to our customers. An important aspect of Iberia’s digital transformation push lies in the incorporation of new technologies and digital innovation during the entire travel experience, from the moment they think about buying a ticket to arrival at the destination.”

The initial In-flight VR trial will last six-months, during which time the airline will monitor passenger satisfaction and desire for the service before deciding whether to bring VR-entertainment onboard for other routes.

Qantas was an early adopter of this IFE technology, developing VR destination-programming for its First Class cabin in 2015. The videos let passengers explore Hamilton Island, dive the Great Barrier Reef, or climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The airline also made this programming available on its app and Google Play for viewing on with a cardboard viewer on a personal electronic device.

BYOD (bring your own device) entertainment is also proving its worth to improve the passenger experience. After reviewing five years of customer feedback, Iberia Express found that Immfly’s customizable, streamable in-flight entertainment contributed to higher NPS (net promoter scores).

“Passengers are very happy with the increased content available on the platform, and their customer scores reflect that improvement. As a consequence, they are spending an average of 50 minutes per flight on the platform, an increase from the previous 30 minutes. In particular, our customers love the selection of films and TV shows,” said Paloma Cabañas, Head of Customer Experience and Inflight Services in Iberia Express.  

EasyJet, which has been conducting a trial of the Immfly platform, also reported a 22% boost in passenger satisfaction where the service was available.

Spain’s holiday carrier Evelop has announced that it will offer Immfly IFE onboard its long-haul flights to holidays destinations, such as Cancun, Havana, Varadero, Mauritius, Punta Cana and with a planned deployment later this year on flights to Kenya and Zanzibar.