Eastern Airlines is nearing the completion of its rollout of wireless IFE on its Boeing 767 fleet. All 10 aircraft will soon be using AirFi’s FASE (Fully Autonomous Semi-Embedded) solution to provide inflight entertainment on passengers’ own devices. The airline is planning to expand the AirFi offering to its two 777 aircraft soon.
Eastern’s IFE rollout is one tail away from done
All widebody airline Eastern Airlines is making its long trips more palatable for its passengers. Nine out of 10 of its Boeing 767s are now outfitted with a streaming inflight entertainment system from AirFi, with the final aircraft due to be completed in the coming days.
The solution, AirFi VENUS, will enable seamless streaming of movies, TV shows and more. For content delivery, West Entertainment has been selected. Given Eastern’s focus on flying to Latin America, it has taken the wise decision to include 90% of its content in Spanish.
Steve Harfst, CEO of Eastern Airlines, commented on the significance of the project, saying,
“Eastern was looking for an onboard solution to both improve passenger experience and generate new cross-platform opportunities.
“AirFi allows us the achieve both while also giving our customers a touch-less entertainment experience onboard. We strive to do everything possible to make traveling a safe and enjoyable experience.”
Most of Eastern’s flights are around five to six hours in length. As such, IFE will be most welcomed by its passengers on their long trips. However, Eastern sees opportunities not just for passenger experience improvements, but also for revenue generation.
The system will soon be used to launch a new buy-on-board catalog, letting passengers browse, order and pay for everything from food and beverage to comfort items and souvenirs. Harfst said that this is an important part of the airline’s strategy going forward, commenting,
“Ancillary revenue is an important part of our strategy and allowing our team members to collect these fees and charges more effectively using AirFi will continue to be vital to our growth. Digitizing online sales significantly streamlines ancillary revenue.”
Installed in as little as a day
Working in partnership with the MEKCO Group, the installation of Eastern’s IFE has moved ahead at pace. Harfst said that, in some situations, installations were undertaken in as short as one day. He said,
“We’ve installed all our planes in as little as one day, while upgrading other aspects of the cabin. Quick deployment and the quality streaming entertainment were probably the main reasons we wanted to work with AirFi, but we’ve also become very excited about the other ways we can use the AirFi platform to improve our customer experience.”
The FASE (Fully Autonomous Semi-Embedded) system adds extra ease of installation and ongoing security. The lightweight (less than 2 kg) boxes are secured in the overhead bins, and are physically attached to the plane. They don’t need removing for updates or content changes, as this can take place remotely. They also use power from the aircraft itself, negating the need for a heavy battery.
Next, Eastern wants to roll out the solution to its Boeing 777-200ER aircraft. Along with this, it plans to retrofit in-seat power supplies, to ensure passengers arrive with a fully charged battery.
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