Jetstar Plans iPad Inflight Entertainment Plan; Do We Really Need That?

Jetstar, the low fare unit of Qantas, has announced that it will roll out iPads iPadto provide inflight entertainment. This may sound like a great idea to you Apple-lovers, but there are a couple of flaws with this plan.

The idea makes sense theoretically. You have a device with 10 hours of battery life that can play all kinds of content from movies to tv and games. It doesn’t have any of the hassles of a built-in inflight entertainment system, and since it’s one of the hottest devices on the planet, a lot of people are likely to shell out the $10 it’ll cost to rent. But there are problems, and they all boil down to one issue – this isn’t likely to be cheap for the airline.

Yes, an iPad is going to be cheaper than installing something in the seat, but that’s hardly the only option. A DigEPlayer, for example, has built-in content and can be rented just as the iPad can. It’s not nearly as versatile as an iPad, but do people really care that much? Both provide hours of good entertainment.

But the iPad is soooo cool, right? That’s the problem. People are really going to steal this every chance they get. Seriously. Wouldn’t you? It’s not going to be tied down because not everyone will want one. So it needs to be able to roam to the person who decides to rent it. The company that put this together, BlueBox, says that it has a “proprietary bluebox security solution.” Unless it’s a solution that tasers someone for trying to sneak it off the plane, it’s unlikely to stop them.

Sure, you can add security that makes it worthless on the ground, but that won’t stop people. When I was at United, the airline started handing out personal DVD players to people traveling in First and Business class on the new p.s. flights from New York to LA and San Francisco. Those DVD players only played the mysterious “region 8” DVDs, a region that is really just for airplanes, cruise ships, etc. In other words, you couldn’t play any regular DVD on it so it was no good.

That didn’t stop anyone. They disappeared faster than an airline employee’s pension.

Now, United uses a system that has a built-in drive with pre-programmed content. I don’t know if people still steal these things, but the fact that it’s pretty clear that there’s no external application for the device keeps people from taking it.

You don’t think that the second the iPad takes to the skies, someone will have a webpage up on how to disable the security system so that you can use it? You know they will.

Sure, it can be policed. If they find one missing that you rented, they can charge you for it, unlike at United where the players were given complimentary. But you know people are pretty savvy about getting around those things as well. And what happens when the flight attendants start trying to get in the game and make a little money for themselves?

There are ways around all of this, but it requires complexity that may not be warranted. If airlines need to provide inflight entertainment (and Jetstar does, because it needs something to make people forget that their knees are smashed in their chests) go for something simpler, cheaper, and less likely to be stolen. Or just skip this phase entirely. Simply provide content people can access from their own devices. Then you don’t have to worry about the device disappearing at all.

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31 Comments on "Jetstar Plans iPad Inflight Entertainment Plan; Do We Really Need That?"

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Ellis Taylor
Guest
Cranky, the way they currently get around the thievery issues is that Jetstar makes you hand over your credit card/passport or other form of important ID before they hand over the player, and they hand it back when they collect the players at top of descent. True, some have still gone missing, but it’s a fairly effective solution methinks, short of the airline equipping its fleet with Ku band antennas. The other thing to think about are the weight and size savings, which are potentially huge. The Airvods currently used by JQ are about the thickness of two iPads, and… Read more »
lance
Guest

CF, Actually don’t Jetstar require a driving licence and credit card as security? If people want to take it, Jetstar can charge it!

Tony
Guest
1. I’m not a big Apple man, but I think think the iPad is the PERFECT IFE. 2. On most airlines, I know the one I work for, the Purser is ultimately responsible for the the final reciept of all IFE players, as well as signing them off. Missing players are a “personal foul” that no Purser in his/her right mind would want to deal with. The iPads will come back. 3. Flight Attendants steal?? I’ve seen folks take a few mini’s, but large class c felony items, (i.e., duty free, jewlery, IFE’s) I’ve yet to see that happen. You’re… Read more »
frank
Guest

What about damage? I can see passengers hap-hazardly dropping them as they get out or return to their seats.

Eric
Guest

I just flew on a United 777 from LHR and was thinking about how pathetic the in-seat displays were compared to my iPad sitting on the tray table (not to mention the irritation of the a/v boxes under the seat in front of me). I couldn’t even bring myself to watch a movie I hadn’t seen, for fear of ruining it when I could watch it properly! So I think this is a great idea, and that more should do it.

David SF eastbay
Member
Interesting idea, but just how many do you plan for on each flight? It seems easy to me to thing if you give one to Mr Smith in 19A, then it would be easy to use a list and go back to Mr Smith in 19A to get it. They could have some device inside and use portable detectors in the jetway or near the exit doors and anyone taking one would set off an alarm. But would you want to sit there holding one for hours to use instead of sitting back and looking at a screen on the… Read more »
Oliver
Guest

Don’t have to hold it. Put it in a case that props it up on your tray table. Need a case anyway for protection or they each will last two trips max. Interesting question though regarding turbulence and resulting damage (who pays for it).

David SF eastbay
Member

I read it somewhere yesterday, but I answered my own question that they had purchased thousands of iPads and would have about 30 on each flight. That may normally be enough, but I thing since the iPad is still so new that 30 may not be enough at the start. I’m sure lots of people would want to try it and see what it’s about before they buy one for themselves. Even it you will not be able to connect to the internet, people would still get to handle it and get the feel for what it can do.

David SF eastbay
Member

Oh and I forgot to add……

“””””People are really going to steal this every chance they get. Seriously. Wouldn’t you?”””””

No I wouldn’t since I am not a thief!

james
Guest

quote: Simply provide content people can access from their own devices. Then you don’t have to worry about the device disappearing at all.

Or power ports. My number one wish for all seating cabins in all airlines.

Oliver
Guest

My iPad needs no power port, battery life gets me through pretty much any flight. Of course you have to be prepared (with a full battery).

Alex
Guest

Put an RFID tag inside each of the ipad. easy to track.

Oliver
Guest
So, CF, are you saying (admitting) *you* would steal the iPad if it was available on your flight? Or do you only think your readers would?!? I’d rewrite that part of your post, because I for one would seriously not steal it, and I’d that’s true for most of your readers. That said, they only need to have an occasional loss to make the whole program prohibitively expensive. Personally, I have for YEARS brought my own IFE onboard. Nowadays it is – tada! – my own iPad (should I now worry about my seat mates pinching it while I am… Read more »
Oliver
Member
Cranky, I think you’ve gone over the deep end on this one. It’s a fair concept to employ the wildly popular iPad as IFE. There will always be thieves and people who scheme, but it sounds like the iPads that Jetstar will use are modified/locked and won’t have all the capabilities a “real” iPad will have. Why would someone want to steal something that has been modified? Plus if someone really wanted to steal an iPad, there are better ways to do that than pay a plane ticket to fly and maybe get the chance to hop on a flight… Read more »
Benjamin Perley
Member

The stealing factor isn’t a huge deal if passengers are going to pay by credit card for use of the device. No different than renting a car. The expense of dealing with theft/damage to the devices would have to be accounted for.

I do like the idea of having streaming digital media that pax could watch on their own devices. A cached version of Hulu would be wildly popular and wouldn’t strain the aircraft’s limited air to ground bandwidth.

David
Guest

I resent the comment about Flight Attendants “getting in on the game and making a little money for themselves” Despite what YOU may think, MOST Flight Attendants that I know are honorable, educated, trusting people-not stealing whores! We don’t get respect from management and now it seems from you either-shame on you Cranky!

Alex
Guest

Cranky, I fear you may have just fallen through the large trap door marked “Jetstar Publicity Stunt”.

jgjohnson2
Member

IFE. And I’m expected to pay for the facility to watch mindless hours of violent movies? Couldn’t care less. Just give me a safe, reasonably on-schedule flight, and give me a window to view the miracle of flight while my mind wanders (no screen needed). OK, if you have to have a screen, put a moving map on it, and give me earphones for Channel 9. That’s it.
The whole IFE thing is crazy. Grrrumph.

Axelsarkiss
Member

They could use the iPed, the chinese rip-off look-alike.
http://mashable.com/2010/05/31/iped/

frank
Guest

IPADS???……….are they super-absorbent?

law firm websites
Guest

I wouldn’t mind actually. I am scared of flying so everything is good to keep me busy, the more I do the less I think about the flight.

Kate
Guest

If I’m going to be holding something for hours to look at, it’s going to be a book. To each his own.

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