PORTLAND, OR – The pipes are getting bigger. Connectivity is the big theme at the Airline Passenger Experience Association’s APEX EXPO happening in Portland, Oregon, September 28 – October 1, this year.
With Inmarsat completing its constellation of Global Xpress (GX) satellites and ViaSat-2 to bolster seamless Ka-band connectivity, passengers can expect uninterrupted in-flight Wi-Fi in the near future, even when flying over land or water in the world’s most far-flung places. Recent tests by Honeywell to stream copious YouTube videos, live radio, conduct conference calls and download heavy files with its GX compatible JetWave satellite terminal on a Boeing 757 aircraft didn’t skip a broadband beat. And with a solid connection, momentum for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and the personalization of the passenger experience – is building up.
Here are some of the digitally-enhanced products and solutions that APEX EXPO attendees will see on the trade show floor at the Oregon Convention Center, in anticipation of connectivity anytime, anywhere:
IN-FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT, INTERRUPTED
As the passenger experience becomes increasingly connectivity-dependant, the old model of just in-flight entertainment won’t cut it anymore. If you’re providing IFE, you better be providing C, because the latter allows airlines to refresh in-flight entertainment more frequently. Global Eagle Entertainment‘s (GEE) AIRCONNECT Ku-band system does just that. It achieved catalogue offerability on Boeing 737 aircraft and is the industry’s first IFEC solution to include: in-flight connectivity, entertainment (provided by Lumexis‘ fiber-to-the-screen FTTS IFE seatback system) and operations data – all from a single provider.
Panasonic Avionics, having installed its 800th eXConnect system, recently completed its acquisition of ITC Global, and Rockwell Collins purchased ARINC and International Communications Group (ICG), adding the SATCOM component to each company’s portfolio. Other IFEC players include Zodiac Inflight Innovations, which became a buyer furnished equipment solution for Airbus, and Thales‘ InFlyt Experience product, which has been taken up by Air Caraïbes and Vueling. Adding to that, Gogo‘s 2Ku dual antenna will boost connectivity on a backlog of 500 aircraft from seven airlines including: Virgin Atlantic, Aeroméxico, Air Canada, Japan Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines.
BYOD IS HERE TO STAY
Skycast has caught on to passengers forging the BYOD trend, unveiling a series of tablet holders for seatback and tray table viewing. It has also outfitted Alaska Airlines with tablet rentals that contain early window content. For a more integrated solution, BAE Systems‘ IntelliCabin, offers a non-embedded in-flight entertainment solution, which Indian carrier Vistara was the first to adopt, and Lufthansa Systems’ BoardConnect skips the seatback completely, steering connectivity to passengers’ personal electronic devices instead.
Starting the BYOD party on the ground is SITA and Adaptive Channel‘s media kiosks that allow passengers to download from hundreds of movies, magazines and music onto their personal electronic devices in minutes, the first of which will be placed at a soon-to-be announced major European airport. And for those who can’t decide between digital or print, Digiredoo and Dawson Media Direct give passengers the choice with newspapers and magazines available through its digital press reader or media wall.
Also mirroring the trend of BYOD are flight crew who use smartphones, tablets and phablets to personalize service. The devices contain flight operation and management data as well as passenger profiles. GuestLogix has been at the forefront of onboard payment solutions that accommodate the abundant payment options and preferences that exist – credit cards in North America; UnionPay bankcards in China; cash in South and Latin America – a topic that, along with new credit card regulations airlines should be aware of, Craig Proud, SVP Platform, GuestLogix will speak about on Education Day, September 28 at 3:20 p.m.
Under the umbrella trend of hyper segmentation, is increased catering to the route-specific and personal preferences of passengers. Amenity kit manufacturers Linstol, Buzz and Inflight Direct, curate products according to the regions where airlines operate. Co-making, a topic which, Devin Liddell, principal brand strategist, TEAGUE speaks about on Education Day, September 28 at 11:40 a.m., has dominated premium amenity kits by highlighting local brands that are sought-after by passengers on certain routes. It’s a trend that is making its way to airline food with kosher meals being the forerunner.
See how in-flight entertainment and connectivity, BYOD and hyper segmentation will affect the future passenger experience at APEX EXPO, and be sure to stick around so you don’t miss out on game-changing PaxEx announcements.