2019 INFLIGHT TRENDS

Inflight Connectivity

RouteHappy’s Annual Inflight Wifi Report is expected to be released In less than one month. Last year’s release showed a 17% increase on 2017 with 82 airlines offering inflight connectivity. No doubt that this year’s report will highlight a rapid increase of equipped aircraft. Yet, 2018 has also stressed the limits of Inflight Connectivity, especially when it comes to ensuring a sustainable ROI for those airlines who have heavily invested in the enhancements. Although there is no magical formula, stacking specific solutions car significantly offset some costs:

  • Use the IFC beyond the simple pax pleasure, especially for MRO usage, weather/routes optimization…
  • Use the IFC for operational cabin crew reports, saving costs
  • Split content between seatback & IFC in order to drive audience and monetization opportunities
  • Integrate connectivity-free ad-serving solution
  • Include partnerships for streaming services…

To date, Finnair appears to be one of the best in class, relying on its high-end Nordic Sky Wifi that drives ancillary revenues based on food and beverage, travel retail and upgrade sales, bundled with seamless payment solutions, especially targeting Chinese passengers with Alipay.

Personalization

Will PNR and customer data eventually be linked to the IFE platforms? As of today, it is no longer a technical issue, as Thales showcased it recently on its latest Inflyt platform. Neither it is a legal issue since GDPR provides the right frame to it and all the airlines collect personal information for their ticket sales process. The big question is ‘who will be the first airline to accept sharing that data on a third party platform to allow a full journey-through personalized experience’. Thanks to both the cookies technology and their mobile app, airline get a strong understanding of their passengers. Blend it with data gathered during the flight and a strong Netflix-like recommendation engine, and you can feed a virtuous circle that produces an ever more personalized inflight experience.

The first inflight chatbots

The airline has embraced chatbot technology for the last two years, offering interactive communication with their passengers…on the ground. In the wake of the personalization quest, such technology will help passengers in rapidly adapting the onboard experience to their immediate need from finding the right content at the right moment to experiencing more customer-centric onboard shopping. Of course, the stake is to add to your IFE platform a connectivity-free chatbot

Content disruption

During the last two years, we have witnessed the explosion of Netflix, Amazon Prime and another video on demand platforms. The media industry, at least for the BtoC model, has definitely shifted to a consumption-based business model. What about the airlines? No doubt that by the end of the year, disruptive content service providers will eventually manage to negotiate with the majors, to drop down the usual “flat fee” to offer their airline customer a kind of pay-per-view business model.

Blockchain for the onboard payment

Last year we saw a couple of exiting statements unveiling the adoption of the blockchain technology. Among them, Singapore Airlines unveiled KrysPay, which it claims to be “the world’s first blockchain-based airline loyalty digital wallet”. Shall we see it bundled with the “Tap & Pay” technology developed by Panasonic and rolled out on Level Airlines? Beyond that, blockchain or not, one of the big expected improvement for this year is a dramatic change in the onboard payment user experience. As payment is the last possible touch point that could lead to a shopping abortion, a seamless payment experience like on-the-ground has become a no-brainer stake for the airlines.