Upgraded Entertainment: 5 In-Flight Technology Trends

Find out which elevated entertainment choices are coming to an airline near you.

Upgraded Entertainment: 5 In-Flight Technology Trends
Upgraded Entertainment: 5 In-Flight Technology Trends
Businesswoman listening to earbuds on airplane
A Wi-Fi button on a laptop.
Little boy using tablet on board of aircraft
Photo of smiling young woman using smartphone on airplane
Black man listening to earbuds on airplane
This Feb. 19, 2014, file photo, shows WhatsApp and Facebook app icons on a smartphone in New York. Global messaging service WhatsApp says it will start sharing the phone numbers of its users with Facebook, its parent company. That means WhatsApp users could soon start seeing more targeted ads on Facebook, although not on the messaging service itself.
|

Feeling the pinch in coach? New entertainment options are making flying easier.
There's a silver lining to today's cramped coach cabins, extra fees and heightened security measures: inventive in-flight entertainment options. New tech-savvy features and services – from high-speed Wi-Fi connections to increased on-demand streaming options – are changing how we fly. Here are five advancements that aim to elevate the air-travel experience in 2017 and beyond.
(Getty Images)

Faster in-flight connections
As any frequent flyer can tell you: "Wi-Fi has been terribly slow and unreliable," says Brian Sumers, an airline business reporter at travel news site Skift. Delta Air Lines will be at the forefront of delivering reliable Wi-Fi, thanks to its partnership with Gogo, a provider offering a new satellite Wi-Fi, known as 2Ku, which enables passengers to enjoy faster streaming speeds, Sumers says. Delta has plans to debut the technology across 600 planes in the next two years. Historically, airlines have had to charge for Wi-Fi, because there wasn't enough bandwidth. Going forward, if bandwidth improves, everyone will be able to use it, he adds. Competitor ViaSat also offers satellite internet available for free on JetBlue Airways, explains Zach Honig, editor-in-chief of The Points Guy.
(Getty Images)

Free entertainment with basic economy fares
Good news for those flying in economy: "Free in-flight entertainment on legacy carriers is available to everyone, regardless of fare class," says Jeff Klee, CEO of CheapAir.com. So, whether you purchase a bare-bones fare or premium-economy ticket with American Airlines, United Airlines or Delta, you'll have access to free in-flight entertainment. Plus, "you also have a choice of watching on your personal device or on seatback screens," he explains. American Airlines recently announced that it's eliminating the monitors on new Boeing 737s to install upgraded satellite internet from 2Ku, which will allow travelers on domestic routes to choose from a library of movies, games and television shows accessible on their electronic devices.
(Getty Images)

New customized streaming technologies
"Bringing your own device is the trend right now," Sumers says. While a variety of planes flying international routes are equipped with free seatback entertainment systems, domestic carriers are bucking this trend to offer streaming capabilities, Honig says. "Assuming you've downloaded the airline's latest app, you should be able to stream movies and TV shows to your smartphone or tablet," Honig explains. The caveat: You'll need to arrive prepared with your own mobile phone, tablet or laptop. "It's hard to say if we will shift completely to streaming, but you’ll certainly see more airlines adopting the technology, as well as offering more curated and original content through partnerships with media companies like Hulu, HBO and Amazon," Klee adds.
(Getty Images)

Enhanced audio and higher definition on international flights
Few things are more agitating than sitting on a long-haul flight only to find poor audio quality. Fortunately, international carriers are making strides to boost audio technology, Klee says. "Lufthansa is out in front with an aim to improve the overlooked audio experience. The carrier will be offering cinema-quality sound in 2017, regardless of the headphones used," he adds. Higher-definition screens and better computing capabilities that allow business travelers to stay productive during international flights, even if they need to stow away their laptops and iPads due to safety concerns, may also be in the works, says George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com. And should the electronics ban be extended to all flights due to safety concerns, we will likely see computing capabilities added to enable people to work in flight without their laptops and iPads, Hobica adds.
(Getty Images)

In-flight mobile messaging services
In January, Alaska Airlines launched a free in-flight mobile messaging service that allows passengers to use messaging apps WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and iMessage to send text messages to friends and relatives on the ground by simply selecting the "Free Chat" option once connected to the Gogo network. While other carriers partnering with the Wi-Fi service provider offer similar capabilities (including legacy carriers United, American and Delta), Alaska is the only airline to offer the in-flight service for free. It's possible Virgin America, which recently merged with Alaska Airlines, will launch similar capabilities in the future.
(Patrick Sison/AP)

Businesswoman listening to earbuds on airplane
A Wi-Fi button on a laptop.
Little boy using tablet on board of aircraft
Photo of smiling young woman using smartphone on airplane
Black man listening to earbuds on airplane
This Feb. 19, 2014, file photo, shows WhatsApp and Facebook app icons on a smartphone in New York. Global messaging service WhatsApp says it will start sharing the phone numbers of its users with Facebook, its parent company. That means WhatsApp users could soon start seeing more targeted ads on Facebook, although not on the messaging service itself.

Feeling the pinch in coach? New entertainment options are making flying easier.
There's a silver lining to today's cramped coach cabins, extra fees and heightened security measures: inventive in-flight entertainment options. New tech-savvy features and services – from high-speed Wi-Fi connections to increased on-demand streaming options – are changing how we fly. Here are five advancements that aim to elevate the air-travel experience in 2017 and beyond.
(Getty Images)

Faster in-flight connections
As any frequent flyer can tell you: "Wi-Fi has been terribly slow and unreliable," says Brian Sumers, an airline business reporter at travel news site Skift. Delta Air Lines will be at the forefront of delivering reliable Wi-Fi, thanks to its partnership with Gogo, a provider offering a new satellite Wi-Fi, known as 2Ku, which enables passengers to enjoy faster streaming speeds, Sumers says. Delta has plans to debut the technology across 600 planes in the next two years. Historically, airlines have had to charge for Wi-Fi, because there wasn't enough bandwidth. Going forward, if bandwidth improves, everyone will be able to use it, he adds. Competitor ViaSat also offers satellite internet available for free on JetBlue Airways, explains Zach Honig, editor-in-chief of The Points Guy.
(Getty Images)

Free entertainment with basic economy fares
Good news for those flying in economy: "Free in-flight entertainment on legacy carriers is available to everyone, regardless of fare class," says Jeff Klee, CEO of CheapAir.com. So, whether you purchase a bare-bones fare or premium-economy ticket with American Airlines, United Airlines or Delta, you'll have access to free in-flight entertainment. Plus, "you also have a choice of watching on your personal device or on seatback screens," he explains. American Airlines recently announced that it's eliminating the monitors on new Boeing 737s to install upgraded satellite internet from 2Ku, which will allow travelers on domestic routes to choose from a library of movies, games and television shows accessible on their electronic devices.
(Getty Images)

New customized streaming technologies
"Bringing your own device is the trend right now," Sumers says. While a variety of planes flying international routes are equipped with free seatback entertainment systems, domestic carriers are bucking this trend to offer streaming capabilities, Honig says. "Assuming you've downloaded the airline's latest app, you should be able to stream movies and TV shows to your smartphone or tablet," Honig explains. The caveat: You'll need to arrive prepared with your own mobile phone, tablet or laptop. "It's hard to say if we will shift completely to streaming, but you’ll certainly see more airlines adopting the technology, as well as offering more curated and original content through partnerships with media companies like Hulu, HBO and Amazon," Klee adds.
(Getty Images)

Enhanced audio and higher definition on international flights
Few things are more agitating than sitting on a long-haul flight only to find poor audio quality. Fortunately, international carriers are making strides to boost audio technology, Klee says. "Lufthansa is out in front with an aim to improve the overlooked audio experience. The carrier will be offering cinema-quality sound in 2017, regardless of the headphones used," he adds. Higher-definition screens and better computing capabilities that allow business travelers to stay productive during international flights, even if they need to stow away their laptops and iPads due to safety concerns, may also be in the works, says George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com. And should the electronics ban be extended to all flights due to safety concerns, we will likely see computing capabilities added to enable people to work in flight without their laptops and iPads, Hobica adds.
(Getty Images)

In-flight mobile messaging services
In January, Alaska Airlines launched a free in-flight mobile messaging service that allows passengers to use messaging apps WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and iMessage to send text messages to friends and relatives on the ground by simply selecting the "Free Chat" option once connected to the Gogo network. While other carriers partnering with the Wi-Fi service provider offer similar capabilities (including legacy carriers United, American and Delta), Alaska is the only airline to offer the in-flight service for free. It's possible Virgin America, which recently merged with Alaska Airlines, will launch similar capabilities in the future.
(Patrick Sison/AP)

×

By Liz Weiss | Staff Writer May 15, 2017, at 2:25 p.m.


Recommended Articles

The 14 Most Exotic Black Sand Beaches in the World

Jan. 14, 2019

Explore unusual shorelines across the globe.

30 Great Girls Weekend Getaways

Dec. 21, 2018

See which amazing locales around the globe are ideal for a girls-only vacation.

How to Find Cheap Flights

Holly Johnson | Dec. 13, 2018

These tips can help you see the world at prices you can afford.

5 Ways to Save Money on Honeymoon Travel

Nicola Wood | Dec. 11, 2018

Create priceless honeymoon memories without breaking the bank.

9 Small Towns That Go All Out for Christmas

Dec. 4, 2018

You don't have to travel to a big city to experience nonstop Christmas fun.

17 Family Ski Vacations to Take This Winter

Nov. 26, 2018

These family-friendly mountain resorts offer exceptional snow sports and activities for all ages.

The 50 Most Scenic Mountain Resorts

Nov. 19, 2018

Get away to enjoy the views and activities at these properties around the world.

The 5 Top Health and Wellness Trends in Cruising

Nicola Wood | Nov. 13, 2018

Find out how taking a cruise can support your health, fitness and nutrition goals.

10 New Cruise Ships and Amenities to Check Out

Nov. 13, 2018

See how cruise lines are raising the bar with tech-savvy touches and improved luxury experiences.

The 2019 Best Cruise Lines for the Money

Nov. 13, 2018

Find out which lines will help you save big on your next cruise vacation.