If you’ve taken an airplane in the past decade, then you’re probably familiar with the concept of in-flight entertainment. It isn’t a new concept, it just has new features — and some of them are awesome. In-flight entertainment, or IFE for short, has been around for almost a century — even early aviation travel included some form of entertainment. The Hindenburg had a piano so that people could enjoy music, and in the 1950s everyone received a pillow and a glass of scotch. For as long as we’ve been flying, we’ve expected some form of diversion.
So it’s safe to say that IFE content has gotten much more advanced… but just how much more? Only 21% of people read while on a plane, which leaves 79% of people who could be potentially utilizing IFE systems. So how does in flight entertainment work well enough to capture such an audience?
Here are some cutting edge IFE features you might get to experience on your next flight:
- Audio/Video on Demand: Passengers are now able to store and stream recorded digital content such as pictures and videos from their trip.
- Moving-Map: A real-time map display of the plane’s location. Many moving-map displays will show the outlined trip on the map and where the plane is along that line, as well as other bits of information such as flight duration, altitude, cruising speed, and local time.
- Interactive Games: Many airlines load in-flight games that can be played solo or with other passengers on the plane. Trivia and puzzle games have grown in popularity with IFE and are a common choice for airlines.
- Duty Free Shopping: Duty free shopping refers to the sale of goods that don’t require payment for particular local and national taxes. Airlines and airports can provide duty-free shopping to their passengers with new IFE systems.
- Multi-Language GUI: A graphical user interface, or GUI, can be added to the IFE monitors such as seat-back displays and can be programmed in different languages to accommodate passengers from around the world.
- Closed Captioning: For deaf or hard-of-hearing passengers, systems can be programmed with closed-captioning or subtitles.
Besides these many features, many inflight entertainment systems can access popular television shows and blockbuster movies. In flight entertainment companies can also provide airlines with in seat USB power and WiFi. If you’re asking yourself, “how does in flight entertainment work?”, the answer is much like how you would expect your internet and cable to work at home, just 30,000 feet in the air.