It seems modern air travel has become increasingly unpleasant, with things like smaller seats, to fees for carry-on bags. But airlines are wooing travelers to get on board with in-flight entertainment options, from iPad rentals to seat-to-seat chatting.
A live concert while you’re 30,000 feet in the air is one of many new entertainment options airlines are using to get passengers onto their planes.
“They’re adding streaming, videos, live television onto your personal devices so you don’t have to watch the little screen anymore, or watch the one movie. So you have choices of 1,500 channels on some flights,” said Melanie Hinton with Airlines for America.
Hinton works for an airline advocacy group and says the companies are pumping $1.4 billion each month into the passenger experience.
“We’re adding faster, more secure Wi-Fi. We’re adding plug-ins so you can plug in devices, so you never lose a charge during your trip,” explained Hinton.
George Hobica is a flying fiend for his website, airfarewatchdog.com. He says competition is causing the airlines to up their game.
“In a sense, airlines are competing on in-flight entertainment, offering things like larger video screens, more selections. In some cases, in business class you have Bose noise cancelling headphones. There’s one airline, in fact, that allows you to watch from the pilot’s perspective for the entire flight,” said Hobica.
For passengers, it pays off in more ways than one.
“There’s no question that having a really great entertainment system makes the flight go faster and amuses people, especially if there’s a delay,” said Hobica.
Frequent flyer Jamie Bartosch noticed a definite improvement on in-flight entertainment during a recent flight to Greece.
“I found a language program and that helped me learn a couple of words of Greek before we landed in Athens, which was really helpful because I didn’t know anything,” said Bartosch.
Not on a newer plane? No problem.
“What they’re doing is offering iPads that you can rent, in some cases for free if you’re in first class, and they have a selection of videos and music on those,” explained Hobica.
On some flights, you can now order food right from the smart device at your seat, or shop the marketplace on the plane.
“You may get thirsty before the cart comes around, so some airlines are adding marketplace, where you can go and get you own snacks and drinks if you need it, or you can order drinks and snacks on your tablet,” described Hinton.
On some planes, you can even chat with the person a few rows back.
“It allows you to, for example, chat with your seatmates, even somebody you don’t know, which might be a nice way to meet somebody on the plane,” said Hobica.
Hinton says with these new options, there should be something to entertain everyone now.
“The airlines want your business and they will, you know, compete to give you the best experience possible,” said Hinton.
Want to know what the entertainment options are for each airline and each plane? Go to seatguru.com, where you can see what’s available on specific flights.
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