FILTER POSTS SHOW ALL AVIATION MARITIME
FILTER POSTS SHOW ALL AVIATION MARITIME

How Airlines are Catering to Millennials

Millennials (also known as Generation Y) are a demographic cohort referred to by some as the “Me, Me, Me Generation” – lazy, constantly seeking feedback and prone to jumping from job to job. Others see a group of liberal and upbeat people brimming with confidence and self-expression, who are most receptive to new ideas and ways of living. Whichever side of the fence you sit on, one undeniable trait of millennials is their enormous purchasing power.

For this reason, millennials are one of the most talked about and disruptive generations for businesses globally. Companies, some of which have been household names for generations, have had to fundamentally shift their company culture, redesign products and services, and adopt new, fluid sales channels to resonate with this increasingly important group. Airlines are no exception.

Take Joon, Air France’s new low-cost subsidiary, as an example. The airline launched last year and promises to offer “a global travel experience” as opposed to just a flight and a fare. Part of this experience, somewhat bizarrely, involves a troupe of flight attendants decked out in resplendent white trainers, blazers with rolled up sleeves, polo shirts and ankle-length trousers. However, the “experience” element of the new brand goes a little deeper than a chic uniform. All-too-aware that millennials have grown up with an unmatched presence of technology in their lives, Joon has crafted its in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) offering accordingly.

First, all seats are equipped with USB ports to allow in-flight charging of personal electronic devices (PEDs). While this is by no means unique, it does point to an understanding that in-flight Internet and wireless content streaming – both of which are being offered by Joon – go hand-in-hand with in-seat power. After all, who boards a plane with a smartphone or tablet that is fully charged? Millennials, who are the likeliest of all to have been glued to their phone on the way to the airport, at the airport, and in the departure lounge, cannot be expected to interact with on-board connectivity if their pocket friends are low on juice! Unfortunately, wireless in-flight entertainment (W-IFE) and in-flight connectivity (IFC) are often deployed without any means to charge the devices that would be used to access these services.

Level, the low-cost arm of the International Airlines Group (IAG), has also put technology at the forefront of its marketing strategy. Its new on-board payment solution, Pair and Play, allows passengers to pay for food, drinks, Wi-Fi, amenity kits and duty-free goods by pairing their mobile devices to the seatback in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. According to Level, its passengers are largely millennials flying long-haul for the first time and being able to pay from their own device is a way for them to have more control of their own experience.

The word “experience” always features prominently in any marketing spiel explaining an airline’s approach to building rapport with millennials. The theory being that millennials, more so than any other demographic, are driven by an experience and being able to share that experience in the moment on social media. And this, in turn, drives greater recognition of the brand among the target audience and with it, customer loyalty and increased revenue.

Delta Air Lines has noticed younger consumers tend to prefer experiences rather than tactile goods, although it favours the term “Emerging High-Value Customers” (eHVCs) over “millennials”. The Georgia-based carrier sees eHVCs as being much more likely to purchase premium products that will enhance their travel experience and has embarked upon a strategy to attract these high-yield future consumers at an early stage. This is why it has placed so much emphasis on the provision of IFC (more than 1,000 planes are now equipped; many with Gogo’s high-speed 2Ku offering) as a way to take business from competitors who offer slow, unreliable Wi-Fi, or no Wi-Fi at all.

JetBlue Airways would doubtless agree about the importance of good-quality in-flight Internet. Its awarded-winning Fly-Fi service has proven extremely popular and has been credited with boosting the airline’s Net Promoter Score, which is a loyalty metric that measures a customer’s willingness to not only return for another purchase, but also make a recommendation to their family, friends or colleagues. Of course, JetBlue offers customers Fly-Fi for free, and very few airlines do that right now for a variety of reasons. Nonetheless, the tech-savvy millennial is used to ubiquitous and free connectivity on the ground, so why should the aeroplane be any different? JetBlue has sought to offset the considerable costs involved with providing complementary IFC – its sponsorship with Amazon brings in valuable revenues and helps underpin the business model.

We are also seeing airlines having to adapt to the way in which millennials engage with content. American Airlines’ decision to forego seatback screens in favour of W-IFE on its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in mid-2017 raised questions from some about the future of traditional embedded systems. However, many carriers are installing W-IFE alongside seatback screens, especially on their long-haul aircraft. Philippine Airlines, for example, re-introduced embedded IFE systems onto its A330 aircraft in 2017, alongside ONAIR play, its W-IFE solution. One reason for this trend is to allow for ‘second-screening’, a habit most prevalent amongst millennials where people commonly use their PEDs while watching another screen.

Data science company, Black Swan Data, helped the aforementioned Level take second screening a stage further by enabling pairing of a PED directly to the seat-back system via Pair and Play. JetBlue, meanwhile, is using NFC as a binding technology on its newly-restyled A320s. This allows passengers to use their own devices as remote controls/gaming controllers, port Android-based applications and also, stream content to seatback displays.

IFE content is also changing to meet the needs of a younger audience rather than the baby-boomer generation as has been the case in years gone by. On wide-body aircraft, which typically fly routes long enough for people to watch a Hollywood movie, a growing proportion of the video content available is shorter-form with drama series, documentaries and long-running comedy shows becoming more and more popular. Medieval fantasy epic, Game of Thrones, political dramas like House of Cards, and zombie-apocalyptic horror, The Walking Dead, have all gained cult-like status in recent years and represent examples of the content today’s connected generation are enjoying on the ground. In addition, some companies have begun aggregating YouTube and Vimeo shorter snackable video content and offering customised TV channels to airlines. With this demographic expecting connectivity in the air to be more like it is on the ground, it makes sense that the content they view in the air should be of a similar nature to the content they view in their homes.

Next-generation IFEC systems are being architected so that passengers can create and sign into an IFEC account using their social media credentials, and with permission, these systems can learn even more about passengers from their online profile(s) or even the types of emails they send and receive. As a result, it becomes possible to present ads and content that are more compelling, rather than the same thing across the entire cabin. And this is what the millennial passenger expects – most actually embrace recommendation engines from the likes of Amazon and Netflix.

This familiarity with Amazon and Netflix also has an impact on the way in which GUIs are being designed. A good UI should be pretty, intuitive, snappy and put as little space as possible between the passenger and what he or she wants to watch. Delta Air Lines and Turkish Airlines have undoubtedly taken cues from the VOD giants with their recent GUI redesigns. The former’s new look IFE aims to bring important content to the highest levels for ease of access and feel “more like interacting with an iPhone.” The latter’s is the result of a study conducted by professional usability and user experience laboratories. One of the major updates is category filtering for movies or ratings of TV shows and movies from well-known database, Internet Movie Database (IMDb).

And there is much more to come. Virtual Reality (VR) is experiencing a second coming and is a technology many airlines are looking into today. Intriguingly, VR plays to the perceived traits of millennials as it allows passengers to escape the confines of the cabin and therefore the awkward conversation with a stranger, or family member, millennials supposedly prefer to avoid. Joon has committed to deploying SkyLights’ second-generation cinematic VR headset, AlloSky, this year.

In the coming years, we can expect to see more airlines redefine their brand, processes and service to capture the loyalty of millennials. This will become increasingly important and evident as the influence of millennials on economies across the world strengthens. One need only look to the much-changed retail sector and the disruption caused by Amazon to see that the adoption of technology will be fundamental to airlines delivering a passenger experience worth sharing and coming back for.

-
[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" parallax_speed="0.3" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" overlay_color="" video_preview_image="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" padding_top="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" padding_right=""][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" center_content="no" last="no" min_height="" hover_type="none" link=""][fusion_imageframe image_id="4920|full" max_width="" style_type="" blur="" stylecolor="" hover_type="none" bordersize="" bordercolor="" borderradius="" align="center" lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" lightbox_image_id="" alt="" link="" linktarget="_self" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""]http://217.199.187.200/valourconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Millennials-1024x530-1.jpg[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_separator style_type="default" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" sep_color="#ffffff" top_margin="20" bottom_margin="20" border_size="" icon="" icon_circle="" icon_circle_color="" width="" alignment="center" /][fusion_text] Millennials (also known as Generation Y) are a demographic cohort referred to by some as the “Me, Me, Me Generation” – lazy, constantly seeking feedback and prone to jumping from job to job. Others see a group of liberal and upbeat people brimming with confidence and self-expression, who are most receptive to new ideas and ways of living. Whichever side of the fence you sit on, one undeniable trait of millennials is their enormous purchasing power. For this reason, millennials are one of the most talked about and disruptive generations for businesses globally. Companies, some of which have been household names for generations, have had to fundamentally shift their company culture, redesign products and services, and adopt new, fluid sales channels to resonate with this increasingly important group. Airlines are no exception. Take Joon, Air France’s new low-cost subsidiary, as an example. The airline launched last year and promises to offer “a global travel experience” as opposed to just a flight and a fare. Part of this experience, somewhat bizarrely, involves a troupe of flight attendants decked out in resplendent white trainers, blazers with rolled up sleeves, polo shirts and ankle-length trousers. However, the “experience” element of the new brand goes a little deeper than a chic uniform. All-too-aware that millennials have grown up with an unmatched presence of technology in their lives, Joon has crafted its in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) offering accordingly. First, all seats are equipped with USB ports to allow in-flight charging of personal electronic devices (PEDs). While this is by no means unique, it does point to an understanding that in-flight Internet and wireless content streaming – both of which are being offered by Joon – go hand-in-hand with in-seat power. After all, who boards a plane with a smartphone or tablet that is fully charged? Millennials, who are the likeliest of all to have been glued to their phone on the way to the airport, at the airport, and in the departure lounge, cannot be expected to interact with on-board connectivity if their pocket friends are low on juice! Unfortunately, wireless in-flight entertainment (W-IFE) and in-flight connectivity (IFC) are often deployed without any means to charge the devices that would be used to access these services. Level, the low-cost arm of the International Airlines Group (IAG), has also put technology at the forefront of its marketing strategy. Its new on-board payment solution, Pair and Play, allows passengers to pay for food, drinks, Wi-Fi, amenity kits and duty-free goods by pairing their mobile devices to the seatback in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. According to Level, its passengers are largely millennials flying long-haul for the first time and being able to pay from their own device is a way for them to have more control of their own experience. The word “experience” always features prominently in any marketing spiel explaining an airline’s approach to building rapport with millennials. The theory being that millennials, more so than any other demographic, are driven by an experience and being able to share that experience in the moment on social media. And this, in turn, drives greater recognition of the brand among the target audience and with it, customer loyalty and increased revenue. Delta Air Lines has noticed younger consumers tend to prefer experiences rather than tactile goods, although it favours the term “Emerging High-Value Customers” (eHVCs) over “millennials”. The Georgia-based carrier sees eHVCs as being much more likely to purchase premium products that will enhance their travel experience and has embarked upon a strategy to attract these high-yield future consumers at an early stage. This is why it has placed so much emphasis on the provision of IFC (more than 1,000 planes are now equipped; many with Gogo’s high-speed 2Ku offering) as a way to take business from competitors who offer slow, unreliable Wi-Fi, or no Wi-Fi at all. JetBlue Airways would doubtless agree about the importance of good-quality in-flight Internet. Its awarded-winning Fly-Fi service has proven extremely popular and has been credited with boosting the airline’s Net Promoter Score, which is a loyalty metric that measures a customer’s willingness to not only return for another purchase, but also make a recommendation to their family, friends or colleagues. Of course, JetBlue offers customers Fly-Fi for free, and very few airlines do that right now for a variety of reasons. Nonetheless, the tech-savvy millennial is used to ubiquitous and free connectivity on the ground, so why should the aeroplane be any different? JetBlue has sought to offset the considerable costs involved with providing complementary IFC – its sponsorship with Amazon brings in valuable revenues and helps underpin the business model. We are also seeing airlines having to adapt to the way in which millennials engage with content. American Airlines’ decision to forego seatback screens in favour of W-IFE on its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in mid-2017 raised questions from some about the future of traditional embedded systems. However, many carriers are installing W-IFE alongside seatback screens, especially on their long-haul aircraft. Philippine Airlines, for example, re-introduced embedded IFE systems onto its A330 aircraft in 2017, alongside ONAIR play, its W-IFE solution. One reason for this trend is to allow for ‘second-screening’, a habit most prevalent amongst millennials where people commonly use their PEDs while watching another screen. Data science company, Black Swan Data, helped the aforementioned Level take second screening a stage further by enabling pairing of a PED directly to the seat-back system via Pair and Play. JetBlue, meanwhile, is using NFC as a binding technology on its newly-restyled A320s. This allows passengers to use their own devices as remote controls/gaming controllers, port Android-based applications and also, stream content to seatback displays. IFE content is also changing to meet the needs of a younger audience rather than the baby-boomer generation as has been the case in years gone by. On wide-body aircraft, which typically fly routes long enough for people to watch a Hollywood movie, a growing proportion of the video content available is shorter-form with drama series, documentaries and long-running comedy shows becoming more and more popular. Medieval fantasy epic, Game of Thrones, political dramas like House of Cards, and zombie-apocalyptic horror, The Walking Dead, have all gained cult-like status in recent years and represent examples of the content today’s connected generation are enjoying on the ground. In addition, some companies have begun aggregating YouTube and Vimeo shorter snackable video content and offering customised TV channels to airlines. With this demographic expecting connectivity in the air to be more like it is on the ground, it makes sense that the content they view in the air should be of a similar nature to the content they view in their homes. Next-generation IFEC systems are being architected so that passengers can create and sign into an IFEC account using their social media credentials, and with permission, these systems can learn even more about passengers from their online profile(s) or even the types of emails they send and receive. As a result, it becomes possible to present ads and content that are more compelling, rather than the same thing across the entire cabin. And this is what the millennial passenger expects – most actually embrace recommendation engines from the likes of Amazon and Netflix. This familiarity with Amazon and Netflix also has an impact on the way in which GUIs are being designed. A good UI should be pretty, intuitive, snappy and put as little space as possible between the passenger and what he or she wants to watch. Delta Air Lines and Turkish Airlines have undoubtedly taken cues from the VOD giants with their recent GUI redesigns. The former’s new look IFE aims to bring important content to the highest levels for ease of access and feel “more like interacting with an iPhone.” The latter’s is the result of a study conducted by professional usability and user experience laboratories. One of the major updates is category filtering for movies or ratings of TV shows and movies from well-known database, Internet Movie Database (IMDb). And there is much more to come. Virtual Reality (VR) is experiencing a second coming and is a technology many airlines are looking into today. Intriguingly, VR plays to the perceived traits of millennials as it allows passengers to escape the confines of the cabin and therefore the awkward conversation with a stranger, or family member, millennials supposedly prefer to avoid. Joon has committed to deploying SkyLights’ second-generation cinematic VR headset, AlloSky, this year. In the coming years, we can expect to see more airlines redefine their brand, processes and service to capture the loyalty of millennials. This will become increasingly important and evident as the influence of millennials on economies across the world strengthens. One need only look to the much-changed retail sector and the disruption caused by Amazon to see that the adoption of technology will be fundamental to airlines delivering a passenger experience worth sharing and coming back for. [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Seat-back In-Flight Entertainment is NOT Dying!

It might not be a date that immediately evokes strong memories but cast your mind back, if you will, to January 25th, 2017. Donald Trump was just getting his feet under the White House desk after a shock election victory two months’ prior, Roger Federer was rolling back the years on his way to capturing a remarkable 18th grand slam at the Australian Open and, lest we forget, news outlets the world over were united in sounding the death knell for the humble seat-back in-flight entertainment (IFE) system.

And what prompted such proclamations I hear you ask? American Airlines revealed that it would be eschewing embedded IFE on new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in favour of wireless distribution of content to passengers’ own devices. Yes, the decision by one carrier not to offer the traditional seat-back IFE on one single aircraft type sent the media into a frenzy and resulted in headlines like these:

The death of in-flight entertainment? American Airlines scraps screens and tells fliers to bring their own” – The Telegraph

American Airlines to ditch seat back entertainment” – CNBC

American Airlines does away with seat-back entertainment” – The Economist

I could certainly understand the hullaballoo if American had come to such a decision for say, the 22 A350s it currently has on order, but that fact that it chose not to fit embedded IFE on some narrow-body aircraft is hardly revolutionary. Indeed, an estimated 45% of these aircraft roll off production lines without any form of IFE on board, and around one-third of the installed base still, somewhat surprisingly, carries drop-down screens (overhead IFE). It is therefore disingenuous in the extreme to imply that the adoption of wireless IFE (W-IFE) on aircraft that often don’t carry any form of IFE whatsoever is somehow tantamount to the imminent extinction of an entire class of product.

Today, nearly every single wide-body aircraft is delivered with a seat-back system and it would be much more revealing to look at whether W-IFE is making inroads into this market to establish whether a fundamental shift is taking place. The answer is that W-IFE is making inroads, but not at the expense of embedded IFE. In fact, many carriers are installing both W-IFE alongside seat-back screens on their long-haul aircraft. One reason for this is the emergence of second screening where people commonly use their personal electronic devices (PEDs) while watching another screen – a trend most prevalent amongst millennials who are accounting for an increasingly larger percentage of travellers.

Interestingly, it is Philippine Airlines (PAL), which might provide a clue as to how the industry may shake out in the not-too-distant future. Back in 2014, the carrier drew widespread criticism and mixed reviews for choosing to jettison embedded IFE on much of its long-haul fleet. Instead, PAL fitted its A330s and A340s with SITAONAIR’s ONAIR Play W-IFE offering and was heralded as the “poster boy” for the new class of streaming systems making their way to market. Fast forward to January 23rd, 2017 – a mere two days before American Airlines made shockwaves – and PAL quietly announced the return of embedded Audio/Video On-Demand (AVOD) systems on its A330s. The reader should note that its A340s are in the process of being phased out, while ONAIR Play will still be offered on the A330s, as well as on the carrier’s short-haul aircraft.

The bottom line is that when it comes to the death of embedded IFE, we’ve heard it all before. The re-birth of IFC following the demise of Connexion by Boeing in the mid-2000s was supposed to usher in a new era of in-cabin entertainment whereby passengers could stream to their hearts’ content. While the likes of JetBlue Airways, Aeromexico and QANTAS have, in recent years, struck deals with Amazon Prime (in the case of the former) and Netflix (in the case of the latter two) that allow passengers to do just this using new high-speed connectivity pipes, all continue to maintain the latest seat-back screens.

The key reason W-IFE will not cannibalise a significant chunk of the classic IFE market in the next ten years is down to the fact that almost every single wide-body is ordered with an embedded system way in advance of actual delivery. Furthermore, major Gulf carriers have indicated that they fully intend to offer seat-back screens well into the future. Emirates, for example, will install seat-back IFE on the 150 Boeing 777X aircraft that will start to enter its fleet in 2020. As long as these luxury brands continue to offer embedded systems, other flag carriers will be compelled to do likewise in order to be seen as on the cutting edge of in-cabin technology.

Another roadblock that W-IFE vendors seeking to smash into the wide-body market need to surmount is the restriction on the streaming of early window content (EWC) to passenger PEDs. Though some vendors are keen to underplay the value of EWC, passengers have come to expect that they will be able to watch the latest Hollywood blockbusters on medium- and long-haul flights. To put this into perspective, Rodrigo Llaguno, Customer Experience Corporate Vice President at Aeromexico recently revealed that the airline had expected a higher take-up of passengers watching Netflix and was surprised when data revealed that people were actually watching more EWC. Regardless of the availability of EWC, there is an extremely long way to go before IFC technology can support streaming of web-based content to multiple seats on multiple aircraft and at a price that is palatable to passengers.

Relying on the bring your own device (BYOD) model has several other pitfalls. One is the assumption that passengers will bring onboard devices that are either fully charged, or contain sufficient charge for them to interact with the IFC/W-IFE systems for a sizeable portion of the flight. With many travellers now using their smartphones throughout their journey to store mobile boarding passes and to help them navigate through airports, as well as for general use, the need to re-charge on board is higher than ever. Unless PED battery life improves dramatically in coming years, in-seat power should almost always be installed alongside W-IFE and IFC. However, in-seat power comes with significant weight and cost penalties and weight and cost are, of course, two key considerations when carriers make the decision to ditch embedded systems in the first place.

Because most seats do not feature a method to keep PEDs upright and at a favourable viewing angle, passengers generally hold smartphones or tablets in their hands while resting their arms on the tray table. When watching a movie or television show for a long period of time, this can quickly result in neck and/or wrist ache. Additionally, the moment food and drink items arrive is the moment this valued arm rest takes on another purpose. Though a number of vendors have developed PED holders designed to overcome these issues, there is still plenty of room for innovation as pointed out by John Walton in this informative article on Runway Girl Network.

The recent electronics ban also highlighted the vulnerability of the W-IFE market to the ongoing fight against terrorism. Though it has now been partially lifted, any future return or extension of the ban (to smaller devices) would undoubtedly be extremely favourable to the future of seat-back systems.

For these reasons, it is hard to imagine seat-back IFE disappearing on long-range aircraft anytime soon. Rather than replacement technologies, W-IFE and IFC should be viewed as complimentary to embedded IFE. Entertainment can be amplified by connectivity, which can be viewed as a gateway to endless media and content options for everyone. Indeed, true personalisation of content and ads cannot be achieved without real-time connectivity off of the aircraft. Thus, it might be said that where there was once IFE, there will also now be IFC and where IFC existed on its own, there are opportunities too for IFE, whether wireless of wired.

Like PAL, Delta is another interesting test case. As well as providing IFC on many of its aircraft, it has also gone fleet-wide with the Gogo Vision-based “Delta Studio” W-IFE system. Whether passengers ultimately prefer to use this, the embedded system or a mixture of the two will offer insight into how the industry will develop.

Valour Consultancy is currently developing two new reports that delve more deeply into these trends. “The Future of In-Flight Entertainment – 2017” quantifies the market for four types of IFE system (embedded, wireless, overhead and portable) and provides forecasts for the growth of each. “The Future of In-Flight Entertainment Content – 2017” looks at how the demand for content is changing, particularly on routes where the flight time is shorter than the length of a typical movie.

-
[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" parallax_speed="0.3" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" overlay_color="" video_preview_image="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" padding_top="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" padding_right=""][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" center_content="no" last="no" min_height="" hover_type="none" link=""][fusion_imageframe image_id="4932|full" max_width="" style_type="" blur="" stylecolor="" hover_type="none" bordersize="" bordercolor="" borderradius="" align="center" lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" lightbox_image_id="" alt="" link="" linktarget="_self" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""]http://217.199.187.200/valourconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/IFE.png[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_separator style_type="default" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" sep_color="#ffffff" top_margin="20" bottom_margin="20" border_size="" icon="" icon_circle="" icon_circle_color="" width="" alignment="center" /][fusion_text] It might not be a date that immediately evokes strong memories but cast your mind back, if you will, to January 25th, 2017. Donald Trump was just getting his feet under the White House desk after a shock election victory two months’ prior, Roger Federer was rolling back the years on his way to capturing a remarkable 18th grand slam at the Australian Open and, lest we forget, news outlets the world over were united in sounding the death knell for the humble seat-back in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. And what prompted such proclamations I hear you ask? American Airlines revealed that it would be eschewing embedded IFE on new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in favour of wireless distribution of content to passengers’ own devices. Yes, the decision by one carrier not to offer the traditional seat-back IFE on one single aircraft type sent the media into a frenzy and resulted in headlines like these: “The death of in-flight entertainment? American Airlines scraps screens and tells fliers to bring their own” – The Telegraph “American Airlines to ditch seat back entertainment” – CNBC “American Airlines does away with seat-back entertainment” – The Economist I could certainly understand the hullaballoo if American had come to such a decision for say, the 22 A350s it currently has on order, but that fact that it chose not to fit embedded IFE on some narrow-body aircraft is hardly revolutionary. Indeed, an estimated 45% of these aircraft roll off production lines without any form of IFE on board, and around one-third of the installed base still, somewhat surprisingly, carries drop-down screens (overhead IFE). It is therefore disingenuous in the extreme to imply that the adoption of wireless IFE (W-IFE) on aircraft that often don’t carry any form of IFE whatsoever is somehow tantamount to the imminent extinction of an entire class of product. Today, nearly every single wide-body aircraft is delivered with a seat-back system and it would be much more revealing to look at whether W-IFE is making inroads into this market to establish whether a fundamental shift is taking place. The answer is that W-IFE is making inroads, but not at the expense of embedded IFE. In fact, many carriers are installing both W-IFE alongside seat-back screens on their long-haul aircraft. One reason for this is the emergence of second screening where people commonly use their personal electronic devices (PEDs) while watching another screen – a trend most prevalent amongst millennials who are accounting for an increasingly larger percentage of travellers. Interestingly, it is Philippine Airlines (PAL), which might provide a clue as to how the industry may shake out in the not-too-distant future. Back in 2014, the carrier drew widespread criticism and mixed reviews for choosing to jettison embedded IFE on much of its long-haul fleet. Instead, PAL fitted its A330s and A340s with SITAONAIR’s ONAIR Play W-IFE offering and was heralded as the “poster boy” for the new class of streaming systems making their way to market. Fast forward to January 23rd, 2017 – a mere two days before American Airlines made shockwaves – and PAL quietly announced the return of embedded Audio/Video On-Demand (AVOD) systems on its A330s. The reader should note that its A340s are in the process of being phased out, while ONAIR Play will still be offered on the A330s, as well as on the carrier’s short-haul aircraft. The bottom line is that when it comes to the death of embedded IFE, we’ve heard it all before. The re-birth of IFC following the demise of Connexion by Boeing in the mid-2000s was supposed to usher in a new era of in-cabin entertainment whereby passengers could stream to their hearts' content. While the likes of JetBlue Airways, Aeromexico and QANTAS have, in recent years, struck deals with Amazon Prime (in the case of the former) and Netflix (in the case of the latter two) that allow passengers to do just this using new high-speed connectivity pipes, all continue to maintain the latest seat-back screens. The key reason W-IFE will not cannibalise a significant chunk of the classic IFE market in the next ten years is down to the fact that almost every single wide-body is ordered with an embedded system way in advance of actual delivery. Furthermore, major Gulf carriers have indicated that they fully intend to offer seat-back screens well into the future. Emirates, for example, will install seat-back IFE on the 150 Boeing 777X aircraft that will start to enter its fleet in 2020. As long as these luxury brands continue to offer embedded systems, other flag carriers will be compelled to do likewise in order to be seen as on the cutting edge of in-cabin technology. Another roadblock that W-IFE vendors seeking to smash into the wide-body market need to surmount is the restriction on the streaming of early window content (EWC) to passenger PEDs. Though some vendors are keen to underplay the value of EWC, passengers have come to expect that they will be able to watch the latest Hollywood blockbusters on medium- and long-haul flights. To put this into perspective, Rodrigo Llaguno, Customer Experience Corporate Vice President at Aeromexico recently revealed that the airline had expected a higher take-up of passengers watching Netflix and was surprised when data revealed that people were actually watching more EWC. Regardless of the availability of EWC, there is an extremely long way to go before IFC technology can support streaming of web-based content to multiple seats on multiple aircraft and at a price that is palatable to passengers. Relying on the bring your own device (BYOD) model has several other pitfalls. One is the assumption that passengers will bring onboard devices that are either fully charged, or contain sufficient charge for them to interact with the IFC/W-IFE systems for a sizeable portion of the flight. With many travellers now using their smartphones throughout their journey to store mobile boarding passes and to help them navigate through airports, as well as for general use, the need to re-charge on board is higher than ever. Unless PED battery life improves dramatically in coming years, in-seat power should almost always be installed alongside W-IFE and IFC. However, in-seat power comes with significant weight and cost penalties and weight and cost are, of course, two key considerations when carriers make the decision to ditch embedded systems in the first place. Because most seats do not feature a method to keep PEDs upright and at a favourable viewing angle, passengers generally hold smartphones or tablets in their hands while resting their arms on the tray table. When watching a movie or television show for a long period of time, this can quickly result in neck and/or wrist ache. Additionally, the moment food and drink items arrive is the moment this valued arm rest takes on another purpose. Though a number of vendors have developed PED holders designed to overcome these issues, there is still plenty of room for innovation as pointed out by John Walton in this informative article on Runway Girl Network. The recent electronics ban also highlighted the vulnerability of the W-IFE market to the ongoing fight against terrorism. Though it has now been partially lifted, any future return or extension of the ban (to smaller devices) would undoubtedly be extremely favourable to the future of seat-back systems. For these reasons, it is hard to imagine seat-back IFE disappearing on long-range aircraft anytime soon. Rather than replacement technologies, W-IFE and IFC should be viewed as complimentary to embedded IFE. Entertainment can be amplified by connectivity, which can be viewed as a gateway to endless media and content options for everyone. Indeed, true personalisation of content and ads cannot be achieved without real-time connectivity off of the aircraft. Thus, it might be said that where there was once IFE, there will also now be IFC and where IFC existed on its own, there are opportunities too for IFE, whether wireless of wired. Like PAL, Delta is another interesting test case. As well as providing IFC on many of its aircraft, it has also gone fleet-wide with the Gogo Vision-based “Delta Studio” W-IFE system. Whether passengers ultimately prefer to use this, the embedded system or a mixture of the two will offer insight into how the industry will develop. Valour Consultancy is currently developing two new reports that delve more deeply into these trends. “The Future of In-Flight Entertainment – 2017” quantifies the market for four types of IFE system (embedded, wireless, overhead and portable) and provides forecasts for the growth of each. “The Future of In-Flight Entertainment Content – 2017” looks at how the demand for content is changing, particularly on routes where the flight time is shorter than the length of a typical movie. [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]