Gone are the days of hundreds of passengers staring into one tiny video screen and even the humble seat-back display, as airlines around the world are exploring the possibilities wireless in-flight entertainment (W-IFE).
According to Forbes, 84% of passengers brought at least one device on board with them last year. From smartphones, to laptops and tablets, nearly 70% of passengers use their devices to listen to music, play games, read or watch movies.
Airlines have responded by adopting and experimenting with different types of W-IFE and connectivity with passengers’ own personal electronic devices, as well as new technologies.
One innovation will be in ‘passenger-powered trends’, with some airlines moving away from embedded screens and allowing passengers to stream movies, music, breaking news, sports and other content via their devices. With interest in online content streaming doubling from 2013 to 2014, passengers expect to stay connected at all times.
Qantas has also tapped into W-IFE by offering Samsung’s virtual reality device, the Gear VR, to first-class passengers on selected domestic and international flights during a trial earlier this year. At the click of a button, Qantas passengers can enjoy a virtual reality boat journey in Kakadu National Park, have a 360-degree look at the Qantas first-class lounge in LA or watch runway videos of A380s landing and taking off from a virtual reality tarmac.
The global market for W-IFE is expected to intensify rapidly over the next 10 years given strong demand and the rapid growth of the airline industry.