In the not too distant future, there probably will be.
With the next era of in-flight entertainment on their radar scopes, airlines are starting to think outside of the box… um, I mean… outside of the aluminum tube. Cathay Pacific recently announced that they are toying with the idea of removing in-seat entertainment systems from their entire fleet. Qantas has started handing out iPads to its premium customers to serve as in-flight entertainment devices. One would assume that the majority of travelers boarding flights these days are carrying some form of Wi-Fi enabled mobile device. As a consequence, why don’t airlines just stream movies, music, games, etc. directly to travelers’ smartphones and tablets?
Based on recent news reports, the FAA may start lightening up on in-flight smartphone usage. If that pans out, it will increase the window of time that travelers have to consume streaming, in-flight content.
By virtue of removing heavy in-flight entertainment systems, airlines stand to gain millions of dollars in fuel burn savings. Carriers also realize that “technology shelf-life” these days lasts about as long as a gallon of milk – unrefrigerated. What may be a cutting edge audio-visual system today will be outdated tomorrow. Considering how long it takes to deploy an in-flight entertainment system across an airline with a fleet of hundreds of aircraft, the problem is exacerbated exponentially. One possible solution… offer travelers an in-flight entertainment App.
Here’s how it might work. Prior to boarding your flight, grab the airline’s App from iTunes or Google Play. Then, once you’re comfortably settled into 22k, fire up your device to access the carrier’s line up of streaming video, music, games, etc. And while you’re at it, order yourself an in-flight snack that is delivered to your seat when you want it. Combine that with a USB port in every seat for device-charging purposes, and you’re all set. Doesn’t this seem like a natural in-flight entertainment evolution that does away with outdated technology?
~ Theo Szymanski