Which All-737 Airline Is Installing In-Seat Video?

Everyone remember Lumexis? They’re the guys that showed me their new very light and kind of awesome inflight entertainment system that US Airways tested awhile back. Earlier this week, Lumexis announced that they had signed up their first customer, and I’ve been trying to figure out who it is ever since. Let’s see if you guys have any ideas. Here’s what we know.

  • That announcement said that they had “been awarded a large order for its FTTS™ (Fiber To The Screen™) Audio-Video-On-Demand, In-Flight Entertainment Systems for installation on the new customer’s fleet of 737-family aircraft.”
  • This new customer will have entertainment but will also use the system to “support in-seat purchases by travelers of an array of products and services.”

With this information, Runway Girl started a conversation trying to figure out who it might be. I’ve uncovered an additional piece of info that dramatically narrows the field.

Who is the New Lumexis Partner?

I asked Lumexis for further detail, and while they wouldn’t tell me much, they did say that “it is a full fleet installation.” Aha! So it can’t be an airline with just a large 737 fleet. It has to be an airline with a large fleet made up only of 737s. There are four possible suspects that come to mind.

  • Southwest
  • Alaska
  • Ryanair
  • Gol

Of these three, I would say Southwest is least likely. They don’t offer an “array” of products and services to sell onboard, so that seems suspect unless it’s part of a massive change for them. Gol is possible, I suppose, but I don’t have a feeling either way. Alaska and Ryanair, however, both would have good reason.

We know that Alaska likes to offer a good product onboard, and they aren’t shy about charging fees for things. We also know that they’ve been fighting Virgin America really hard, and this would help them get toward product parity. They also have a growing long haul network and a significant Hawai’i presence that can’t use live television because it’s outside of the service area. This would seem like a perfect solution.

On the other hand, nobody knows how to sell like Ryanair. If this system could somehow let them increase their onboard sales, it might be a rock star for them. They can, of course, charge for the entertainment itself, though when they tried to use portable units for sale before, it flopped and they removed them quickly.

Who else has a large 737-only fleet that could be in the running? I eliminated WestJet already since they have LiveTV. What am I missing? Anyone else?

What say you?


28 Responses to Which All-737 Airline Is Installing In-Seat Video?

  1. Dave S says:

    Well, since they specifically say 737 FAMILY, that rules out Ryanair as they only have -800s and Gol is almost exclusively -700s. My bet is on AS, if so, this could be the best kept secret in the industry. It also goes along with comments in their conference call about looking for ways to diversify revenues as a key priority next year.

    Perhaps an announcement along with Row 44 installation (assuming Row 44 can get that new radome certified).

  2. David SFeastbay says:

    Any carriers in Asia have an all 737 fleet? I’ve read in magazines about low-cost Asian carriers who do onboard selling of logo type merchandise, just can’t remember now who there were.

  3. Dan Webb says:

    @ Dave S:
    I’d disagree on Gol. They have more -800s than -700s, actually (62 vs. 43).

  4. Skinny says:

    and it appears that Gol is going to be updating some of their interiors in 2010….

    http://boeing.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=633

  5. Bobber says:

    The CIA?? Is it the CIA??

  6. Dave says:

    I stand corrected!

  7. Just doesn’t seem to fit with Ryanair or SWA. What is Lumexis’ definition of “large fleet?”

    Hope it’s not Gol, I don’t fly in Brazil too often and would love to use this system!

  8. Allen says:

    What are the chances that someone mispoke and meant they have a lot of 737s but not exclusively 737s in their fleet?

  9. Shane says:

    Of course with Ryanair, they would have a different business model than you may be thinking of. The screens would start on, showing Michael O’Leary press conferences and other favorite videos of his, and eventually you will give in and pay the requisite 20 quid to shut that crap off!

  10. @ Shane:

    Actually that isn’t a bad business model for Ryanair. Don’t think it would even work for Spirit, but Ryanair could pull it off.

  11. Johan says:

    How about Sun Country? Isn’t their fleet all 737s these days? It’s a small airline, but I’m wondering what they mean by “large order”.

  12. David says:

    mmmm, as I read the release, this does not rule out airlines with other aircraft types. My money would be on American. They just might be smart enough to do this. The MDs are being eliminated, the 737s are to be the workhorse, it just might make sense.

  13. kaszeta says:

    I wouldn’t completely rule out WN, since they charge for wifi. But it doesn’t seem like something they’d do.

  14. CF says:

    David SFeastbay wrote:

    Any carriers in Asia have an all 737 fleet?

    Hmm, none that come to mind. Air Asia is going Airbus. Tiger and Jetstar both have an Airbus fleet. The legacy guys all have mixed fleets and lots of widebodies.

    Allen wrote:

    What are the chances that someone mispoke and meant they have a lot of 737s but not exclusively 737s in their fleet?

    David wrote:

    mmmm, as I read the release, this does not rule out airlines with other aircraft types.

    It wasn’t in the release – that quote was from Lumexis when I spoke with them. I suppose it’s always possible that it was a mistake, but I see no reason to think that.

  15. Allan says:

    It would be great if it was Southwest but it’s not. Southwest has never even tried to dip its feet into in-flight entertainment beyond annoying pre-flight announcements that their flight attendants think are amusing but are in fact really grating at 7:00 a.m. on a Monday; so there not going to all of a sudden install seat backs in their entire massive fleet.

    My money is on Alaska. They will show ‘Nanook of the North’ on a constant loop.

  16. John says:

    Doesn’t AS already have a fairly strong onboard entertainment product? Their Dig-E players (or however they spell them) are easy to use and seem to be popular on the flights I’ve taken. Sure they’re not built in, but that means lower overhead and easier maintenance for a small loss of coolness factor.

  17. @ John:

    I agree, I do love their Dig-E players, but maybe those showed there is a big enough demand for people to pay for them and figure it would be worth while to install a perm IFE?

  18. Craig says:

    Looking at the quotes we have, I’m not sure that you can say for certain that the airline only operates 737s. First, Lumexis says that the order will be “for installation on the new customer’s fleet of 737-family aircraft.” Then, later, the company tells Cranky that “it is a full fleet installation.”

    Seems to me that there’s an ambiguity in the use of “fleet.” The first use of fleet clearly refers just to the customer’s 737s. The second fleet, however, can mean either just the 737s (as in the first instance) or all the customer’s aircraft (as in the general use of fleet).

    If the second fleet means all of the customer’s aircraft, then you’re right — the customer must be an all-737 operator. But if the second fleet can also refer just to the 737s (as it did in the first instance), in which case Lumexis is saying that the customer has chosen to install the system on all of its 737s, rather than just on one particular variant.

    Regardless of how you interpret it, it seems to me that Alaska is the most likely customer.

  19. The Boarding Pass says:

    Maybe AirTran?

  20. @ The Boarding Pass:

    They have B717’s and they just installed a bunch of ads on the back of seats, so doubt they would replace them so soon with screens.

  21. The Boarding Pass says:

    Should be AA as they bring in more 737s and they do need some decent IFE – no doubt they think they can charge for it too. All the extra charges would be ok if the actual ticket prices were really cheap – but they seem to be same as ever PLUS charges, fees, etc. Not sure they are fooling anyone, but if you have to fly in the US then I guess you are stuck.

    As long as the airlines don’t actually think people are ‘happy’ to pay these extra fees, then we are ok!

  22. The Boarding Pass says:

    @ David Parker Brown:

    I know about the 717s but I don’t buy the exclusive 737 fleet argument – sounds like usual non-specific PR speak to me.

    Ads + tvs = double the revenue! Or if you pay enough the advert goes away and you see the tv!

  23. FedeIT says:

    Ryanair don’t use windows shades and seat pockets to save weight and money, they attach the safety card on the seat and other orrible way to made and save cash, so they will not install AVOD (it cost, it has a relevant weigh, it’s not necessary to fly to destination).

  24. Ryan says:

    As much as I would like to see Alaska as the new customer here, I just can’t see it happening. Alaska hasn’t talked openly at least, about IFE opportunities in their business. They have seemed very happy with Dig-E players, and if it isn’t broke, why fix it?? I personally dislike the Dig-E players, but it really sounds like I might be in the minority on them.

  25. Love the photo Brett. There’s quite the nice set of hooters you’ve sprouted there. Killer frock.

    Alaska’s Dig-E-Player pales in comparison to Virgin America’s onboard offerings, but it has been popular so it’s easy to see Alaska making a larger investment – a big complaing with the players is that Alaska doesn’t update them very often. If you’re traveling on a roundtrip with two midhauls and a connection, you definitely have to stretch out your viewing so you don’t get bored.

    Southwest is leery of capital expenditures at the moment. It took long enough for them to decide the investment in Wifi would pay for itself if installed fleetwide. However Alaska has some serious ground to gain if it wants to win the IFE battle since the DOT doesn’t seem to care about it’s complaints that Virgin is foreign owned.

  26. Steve says:

    I do know that Alaska has been looking around at post-digEplayer options. Many of the current units are nearing the end of their useful life and as the company continues to add more long-haul routes (transcons and Hawaii) the need to order more IFE units increases. At some point it’s impractical to have to maintain and deliver hundreds of portable units on a daily basis to flights where they’re offered. I wouldn’t be surprised if AS installed seat-back units exclusively on their -800 fleet. Tying in these with the Row44 product would be killer!!

  27. Luke says:

    Virgin Blue.

  28. CF says:

    Luke wrote:

    Virgin Blue.

    That I can’t see. They already have LiveTV onboard.

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