Airlines can ‘surprise and delight’ with live TV

In-flight entertainment should provide content flyers couldn’t otherwise access, says PwC


In-flight entertainment options must evolve to “surprise and delight” passengers at a time when the availability of on-board wifi is further encouraging the “bring-your-own-device” trend, says PricewaterhouseCoopers’ transport specialist Jonathan Kletzel.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, which streams live television to passengers’ personal devices for free under a partnership with satellite network Dish, this week announced a pilot iPad rental scheme at three US airports, while several other airlines offer live television on seat-back screens.

Many operators yet to make this move are now “actively exploring” the inclusion of live television in their in-flight entertainment, Kletzel says.

The problem for airlines is that consumers increasingly expect wifi to be available on aircraft, just as it is in hotels, trains and cafes.

But this feeds a “bring-your-own-content” habit whereby passengers are effectively entertaining themselves on flights.

One way to regain a competitive edge in in-flight entertainment is to supply news, sport and other live content that passengers couldn’t otherwise access.

Chicago-based PwC partner Kletzel and his colleague Jon Glick, PwC’s director of customer experience and travel practice, were in Dublin this week for the International Air Transport Association’s World Passenger Symposium.

The big challenge for airlines, according to Glick, is that they are struggling to keep up with the compressed consumer technology cycle.

“There have been eight different versions of the iPhone in six years, but if you look at how airlines make capital investments, it is generally a 10-year cycle.”