Australian airline Qantas is handing out iPads with access to its Wi-Fi-streamed in-flight entertainment service Q Streaming, reports AFP (via AppleInsider).

The iPad-based service was first tested on a single 767 in 2011, offering streaming access to over 200 hours of movies, TV shows and music, and is now being introduced on its 767 flights operating between Sydney and Honolulu. Later updates will introduce interactive games, digital newspapers, magazines as well as travel and business apps.

Our inflight entertainment programs are stored on a content server with over 18 times the storage capacity of a 64GB tablet.

These programs are streamed wirelessly to Wi-Fi enabled devices via six wireless access points installed along the aircraft’s ceiling.

No other aircraft in Australia is fitted with this technology. You can now choose from a library of TV and audio content never before available to the Australian domestic traveller.

The Q Streaming iPad available in your seat pocket will automatically connect to the wireless network when you turn it on.

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While the move might sound expensive, the reality is that tablet-based entertainment may save money. A report last year in USA Today observed that traditional seat-back entertainment systems can cost $3 million or more per plane, with the figure rising dramatically for the recently-introduced A380 double-decker.

Emirates Airline, for example, spends an average of $15,000 per seat on embedded screens. For an Airbus A380 with 517 seats, the total cost to install seat-back monitors would be approximately $7.8 million. And that doesn't include the content.

"It is the most expensive thing after the engines," says Patrick Brannelly, vice president of product, publishing, digital and events for Emirates. "It is a ginormous investment by the airline. But it's one that's paid off, because the airline has done very well."

Seat-back entertainment systems are also heavy, increasing fuel usage. Rob Fyfe, CEO of Air New Zealand, says that every pound of weight on board an airliner costs the airline $200 a year in fuel. Tablets are significantly lighter.

Seatback entertainment costs have further increased as screen sizes have grown larger in premium cabins, with the typical 12-inch screens in Economy growing to 20-inch in Business and 27-inch in First. Airlines have increasingly been introducing tablets into the entertainment mix, with British Airways, El Al and American Airlines all using them. Most have so far limited their tablet offerings to premium cabins, however, while Qantas will be handing out iPads in Economy also.

Mary Kirby, editor-in-chief of the Airline Passenger Experience Association magazine, says she expects any move away from setback systems to be a gradual one. The idea of buying aircraft without them is, she says, "almost like buying a car without a radio."

Related Roundup: iPad
Tag: Qantas
Buyer's Guide: iPad (Caution)
Related Forum: iPad

Top Rated Comments

r2shyyou Avatar
147 months ago
seems like they will also need genius bars on-board
They've already thought of that (https://www.macrumors.com/2012/07/28/apple-introduces-three-new-mac-ads-during-olympics-opening-ceremonies/)! :D

Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SmileyBlast! Avatar
147 months ago
Collecting the iPads at the end of the flight might not be so easy. :cool:

Someone could pretend they don't speak English and walk off the plane with it.:)

I pay flight! I keep this now. Me late. Got Go!
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
r2shyyou Avatar
147 months ago
Emirates Airline, for example, spends an average of $15,000 per seat on embedded screens. For an Airbus A380 with 517 seats, the total cost to install seat-back monitors would be approximately $7.8 million. And that doesn't include the content.
:eek:

Looks like the Long Arm of the [s]Law[/s] US Healthcare industry has made its way to the Air Travel industry...
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
whooleytoo Avatar
147 months ago
Interesting idea. There would be some challenges - can they 'lock down' the iPads so people don't install a lot of junk on them, or fill them with lots of photos/videos, or delete apps? Will device theft be a problem?

Even ergonomics might be an issue, a screen on the seat in front of you is a lot more comfortable than a screen on your lap, although presumably they'll provide some way of attaching to the seat in front.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ctdonath Avatar
147 months ago
Let me second that...
$15,000 per seat on embedded screens
:eek:
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
levitynyc Avatar
147 months ago
Makes sense. It's like rear seat entertainment options in my car.

I can pay 3 grand or so for the headrest system or just buy a couple of iPads for the kids.

You also have the added benefit of Internet use, portability, and the ability to resell them later.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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