Airline Adds Live TV To In-Flight Entertainment Choices

in-flight

Emirates Airlines has raised the bar on in-flight services for quite some time, offering over-the-top amenities like a shower in first class, Bvlgari amenity kits, dine-on-demand service and more. Now, Emirates has figured out how to add live TV from a variety of sources.

“Installing the type of satellite communication that allows live TV on an aircraft is no easy feat,” said Adel Al Redha, Emirates executive vice-president of engineering and operations, in a Breaking Travel News report.

Currently offering a choice of four live TV channels, Emirates allows passengers to choose from BBC World News in English, BBC Arabic or Euronews.

Sports 24 is a channel with exclusive live coverage of sporting events around the world. Upcoming events include English Premier League and Bundesliga football matches, coverage of the Australian Open, Wimbledon, US Open Tennis, ATP Tour Masters 1000 Series, ATP World Tour Finals, US Open Golf and the British and Irish Lions Tour.

That’s in addition to information systems that allow passengers to follow the progress of their flight and see what’s going on outside the aircraft with external-mounted cameras. Already in place are in-flight phone calls both to ground and other passengers on the plane, as well as the ability for sending and receiving text messages, email and over 1,400 channels of premium entertainment.

Available on select Boeing 777 flights flying over the Middle East, Europe, North Africa and North America, Emirates live TV service is provided via expanding satellite technology, soon to be offered worldwide.

Want a taste of the Emirates first class experience? Check this video, just in:



[Photo credit – Flickr user BriYYZ]

5 airlines with great in-flight services in economy class

in-flight services economy class

Last week, I spent 13 hours desperately trying to fall asleep on a Thai Airways flight from Bangkok to London; my economy class seat didn’t have a personal entertainment system and the cabin monitor was pitch black from my angle. The week before, my sister took a red-eye United Airlines flight from Honolulu to San Francisco without the benefit of a pillow, blanket, or snack.

For many airlines, it looks like in-flight services in economy class are going the way of liquids on board. But thankfully, there are still some airlines that understand that service, entertainment, and even a few extras are a part of the customer experience, even for the peons in coach. These five are leading the pack.

Virgin Atlantic
Not only does Virgin offer one of the best personal entertainment systems I’ve ever experienced, they also offer a uniquely British flight experience on their Heathrow-JFK service. From complimentary English publications like Hello and Tatler in the waiting room, to free toiletry kits with socks and eyeshades, to a high tea service with scones and clotted cream, the attention to detail is there.Singapore Airlines
Rated by Zagat as the best international airline for both premium and economy seating, Singapore Airlines spares no expense with their amenities, offering all passengers luxurious Givenchy socks and toothbrush/toothpaste kits. If you happen to snag a seat on their Airbus A380 (say, through this sweet deal) or Boeing 777-300ER planes, you’ll also be able to read digitized versions of publications like the Wall Street Journal and Elle Magazine on Krisworld, the airline’s award-winning inflight entertainment system.

JetBlue
Though it’s a budget airline, JetBlue’s little extras make the flying experience one of the best in the U.S. Their entertainment systems offer 36 channels of DIRECTV programming, while their complimentary snack selection runs the gamut from Terra Blues chips to animal crackers (who doesn’t love animal crackers?). Plus, their Shut-Eye Service on overnight flights from the West includes free eyeshades and earplugs, plus hot towels and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee upon arrival.

Virgin America
Yup, Virgin again. Their American cousins offer sexy dim cabin lighting, standard and USB plugs at every seat, and the ability to easily offset the carbon emissions from your flight through a credit card swipe donation to Carbonfund.org. Plus, from now until January 15, passengers on flights departing from San Francisco, Dallas-Fort Worth, Boston, Chicago, and New York JFK can enjoy free in-flight WiFi on new Google Chromebooks through the Chrome Zone pilot program.

Emirates Airlines
I first flew Emirates Airlines from Tokyo to Dubai when I was 12 years old, and it still sticks out as one of my favorite travel experiences. At the time, I was blown away by one of the first economy class personal entertainment systems in existence, as well as the extra Swiss chocolates snuck to me by the charming flight attendants. These days, Emirates offers 1,200 channels of programming plus telephone, SMS, and e-mail services on their ice entertainment system; regionally inspired multi-course meals with locally sourced ingredients; and cabin lighting specially designed to ease jet lag. I’m betting those chocolates are still there too.

[Flickr image via Richard Moross]

Cathay Pacific to launch in-flight WiFi; mobile device connectivity

It’s one thing to connect in-flight from coast-to-coast, it’s another thing to connect when you’re flying across the world! Travel writers, business executives, and Internet-junkies rejoice: Cathay Pacific has just announced it will launch long-haul in-flight WiFi in 2012!

The Hong Kong-based airline plans to roll out broadband Internet onboard their fleet and Dragonair planes starting in early 2012, thanks to some help from Panasonic Avionics Corporation, a worldwide supplier of in-flight entertainment and communication systems.

The in-flight fun will feature eXConnect broadband service and eXPhone GSM phone service but here’s where it gets really exciting: as part of the service, you’ll get the Cathay Pacific-branded free-of-charge entertainment portal, which is accessible through all passenger devices (read: iPads, PDAs, etc.) and seatback screens. Readers: take a moment to digest that information — we realize it’s pretty big news.

Here’s more straight from Cathay Pacific:

eXPhone, offered in collaboration with AeroMobile’s GSM mobile phone technology, allows passengers to use their mobile phones, smart phones and BlackBerry devices onboard to make voice calls, send SMS text messages or utilise data services and stream content wirelessly to their iPod, iPhone and iPad. eXPhone gives the airline flexibility and full control over the services offered including restricting certain services when appropriate.

According to Cathay, the in-flight entertainment options will include a range of content updated during the flight, access to airline and partner sites, e-commerce, airline-specific advertising, and live television with pay-per-view capability for special events.

Couple this with Cathay Pacific’s business class cabin and I might just move into the plane.

Prudes take umbrage with Air New Zealand videos


Last month, we told you about Air New Zealand’s new in-flight safety video that features the flight crew in nothing but body paint. That, of course, came on the heels of their new ad campaign featuring their staff in – you guessed it – nothing but body paint. We thought the in-flight video and television commercial were innovative and quirky examples of an airline showing some actual personality. Sadly, not everyone has what we here at Gadling call “a sense of humor.” Some people are offended by the videos and they’re starting to speak up.
According to news.com.au, many Kiwis who have flown national airline recently think that the risque videos are inappropriate. “Enough is enough, this is our national airline, not a strip joint! I for one won’t bother booking with you again,” one perturbed passenger said. Another Kiwi lodged a complaint with New Zealand’s advertising watchdog. The complaint stated, “All genital areas were hidden but they left nothing to the imagination and (it) conjured pictures that none of us needed.”

Air New Zealand is defending their campaign, which they say “highlights the transparency of the airline’s all-inclusive domestic airfares.”

I, for one, agree with the airline. Lighten up, people. It’s kitschy. It’s creative. It’s devoid of any “genital areas.” The television commercial is better than what most companies throw out there. And the in-flight video beats listening to a bored flight attendant phoning in the delivery of the safety spiel because she’s done it a million times before and just can’t muster up the energy to care anymore.

Just to stick it to the prudes who can’t seem to accept that life is too short to complain about everything, I’m slapping the in-flight safety video in this post. Watch it again for the first time.

Hilarious abuse of the Delta In-Flight Safety Video


So, here’s the Delta Airlines In-Flight Safety Video. Pretty standard, right? Nothing to write home about. A good-looking, vaguely-Southern flight attendant, some poor, dorky guy whose big break was wearing a life vest — all good fun.

Well, someone took that fun a step further …
Did you think that that “smoking is not allowed” moment was a little over-the-top? Somebody did! Enjoy this hilarious slowdown, and re-slowdown.


I can’t believe someone took the time to do this, but dang, it’s funny.