Wi-Fi and On-board Entertainment

By Carlota Nelson | 10:11

When we think of in-flight entertainment we tend to believe it’s relatively new.  But it began back in the 1930s; an era in which some aircrafts offered lounges, bars, a dining room and some, believe it or not, even had a piano bar. Yes, we know that entertainment on planes today has more to do with content (lots of it), a digital screen, earphones and hey, if there´s Wi-Fi, it’s perfect. Keep reading to find out what who are the coolest carriers in this respect and what in-flight entertainment Millennial Travellers will be demanding.

Airline carriers are in a race to provide more content, faster accessibility and high-speed Internet on board. The near future looks directly to 17-inch high-definition seat-back screens, eye tracking control systems that also use body gestures, rather than remote controls and the ability to stream content to personal entertainment devices.

But for the moment, Millennial Travellers will have to do with what’s available. On-board entertainment options vary from one airline to the next.  But a good rule of thumb is: the older the model, the fewer the amenities and entertainment services. This is also true for low-budget airlines.

Some carriers, fortunately, are famous for their on-board entertainment that normally includes personal TVs with 1-of-a-kind user interface that allows you to watch movies, listen to music, play video games, interactive Google maps, on-demand menus and check this out: seat-to-seat messaging! Most of this is free of charge.

Half of US airlines offer on board Wi-Fi service and is expected to grow as their earnings can exceed $1.5 billion dollars for charges alone.

Nowadays, on board Wi-Fi service uses ground stations to get connected. But the future of Wi-Fi offered on airlines will be powered by orbiting satellites.  While major companies such as Panasonic are creating complex systems to deliver entertainment that wasn’t possible a few years back, there are a few carriers worth mentioning just for their in-flight entertainment:

  • Singapore Airlines makes use of Kris World that offers passengers new releases and up to 80 movies, hundreds of CD’s, audio books, TV programmes, games, radio and a USB port so you can use it as a personal media player and photo viewer. Some aircrafts even allow you to connect your iPod and iPhone. Care to learn a new language on your 12-hour flight?  Singapore airlines offer Berlitz language-learning programs.
  • Virgin America was voted the airline with the best in-flight entertainment system. Why? 9 inch touch-screen, seat-to-seat chat so you can text friends and family sitting in other parts of the plane, in-flight Wi-Fi, movies, satellite TV, games, digital shopping, power outlets and you can even order drinks and food whenever you want. And all of this for free!
  • Emirates When flying Emirates, you’ll be able to choose from over 1,500 channels, music library, games, BBC world news, Wi-Fi for smartphones, tablets and laptops as well as aircraft-mounted cameras from where you’ll enjoy amazing views.

A little bit of in-flight entertainment history before you leave? By Love Possessed was the first film to be screened on board a TWA commercial aircraft in 1961. Later during that decade, black and white television sets were placed every few rows. It wasn’t until 1988 that the first screens were integrated on the back of the seats and the Air Vision system offered 6 video channels.

Photo Credits: Ryan McFarlandJorge Cortell



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