Soon In-Flight entertainment screens might be a thing of a past as several airlines have do away with it on their new fleet. Are they doing this for the sake of cutting cost? or is it a move to catch on with the emerging trend of mobile devices? While it looks like the big corporations are taking away our legroom and creature comforts of flying, the move is actually pretty smart and it benefits both ways even for passengers as well.
Several airlines now especially in the US are catering for the new connected generation of customers. Some of them have started offering WiFi connectivity and charging sockets or USB ports on every seat. Since most passengers carry a smart phone or a tablet, most of them would likely to be occupied with their own device instead of a fixed seat-back entertainment system. Furthermore, most devices today have better screens especially tablets that boast Quad HD or Retina displays. Since passengers are likely to have better devices, airlines are considering of offering in-flight content streaming over WiFi direct to your own smart phone or tablet.
The In-Flight Entertainment systems that are mounted behind each seat not only cost airlines money to install but it is quite cumbersome to maintain as well. An IFE unit is reported to cost as much as US$10,000 each and it makes more sense for airlines to offer tablets for rent which is significantly cheaper to buy as well as to replace once it gets obsolete. With fuel cost being a major concern, having IFE systems removed offers tremendous weight savings, making each flight more efficient to fly. For overnight flights, the lack of individual screens could translate to better sleeping environment without the glaring lights from each individual seat.
For low cost long distance carriers like AirAsia X, they are currently offering pre-loaded Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablets that can be rented for a fee. Malindo Air currently uses Panasonic 9″ Touch-screen system on their B737 planes while Malaysia Airlines is still using the conventional screen and controller set up on their economy seats. Would you be happy if our local airlines follow such move for long haul flights? Is the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) model with in-flight internet better or having a dedicated In-Flight Entertainment system on each seat is the way to go? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
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