Three Quarters Not Using IFE
While an inflight entertainment (IFE) system is usually really cool when it comes out, it’s amazing how quickly it can become dated. About 10 years ago when I started flying often, Air Canada’s IFEs were newer and way ahead of the “modern” satellite seat back TVs on WestJet or United.
IFEs are like infotainment systems in cars but worse. Car systems need to undergo certification to get put into cars. IFEs need certification from FAA and similar agencies around the world. This means a device that gets into a plane might be 3–4 years behind. In technology, that’s forever.
Looking around the cabin as I write this, most people aren’t touching these dated IFEs. They have books, iPads, Microsoft Surfaces, are napping. One person watching the IFEs is constantly adjusting their earphones (probably because the leads on the audio jacks have worn).
What could be a replacement to an IFE?
- Fast media server (Air Canada Rouge offers this through an app)
- A smaller but sharper screened device with mostly audio programs or live radio / podcasts
- Faster Internet (this is happening, slowly)
- More USB ports and tighter in seat power
- USB C ports
- Inflight cell service — at least for messaging (like on EVA)
- Regular OS updates (or at least UX updates)