The usual perception of IFE lies in its very name, since the ‘E stands for Entertainment. However, airlines often do not realize that setting up such project involves onboarding a server (whether standalone or connected to the aircraft) that can offer a comprehensive set of services far beyond plain passive entertainment.
The secret lies in integrating the right software on those powerful hardware platforms. The parallel can be done with smartphones and tablets, where the added value is created by the apps that deliver incredible services.
As a consequence, an IFE platform can easily be turned into an IFS (InFlight Services) platform, adding significant value to the project, and generating new sources of ancillary revenues for the airline. Five families of services are then identified:

Passive entertainment

Watching videos and listening to music is obviously the most common usage of IFS platform. Even for those topics additional features can be created. There are many ways to improve the passenger experience: personalization (bookmarking, preselection…), inflight rating (creating a community within the airline passengers), or resume streaming on subsequent flights.

Interactive entertainment

The most common onboard interactive experience is provided by games. Thanks to innovative partners, a full-journey gaming experience can be created to entice this rapidly growing segment of passengers.
Beyond the games, eLearning sessions can be offered on the platform whilst sponsored brand experiences can generate huge amounts of advertising revenues.
An advanced meals menu presentation enabling dietary info, storytelling, click & delivery… can also be featured onboard.
Full journey health & wellness “channel”, passenger chat and User Generated Content complement this interactive entertainment category.

Destination Services

Who has never dreamed of booking its arrival transportation during his flight? What about having real time information on the connecting flight, that includes an interactive map to help finding the shortest way to catch his next flight?
The use cases are countless. Some of them require inflight connectivity, but not all of them. Destination services is one of the categories that will generate the most important conversion rate, bring both value to the passenger and revenues to the airline.

Cabin Services

Forget the good old printed snacking and duty-free catalog. Open the door to digital onboard shopping services. You will both save money, improve your CSR, and increase the onboard sales through an engaging onboard shopping platform. Thanks to a cutting-edge technology, you can even organize an onboard-click / on-the-ground delivery!
Your IFS platform also can host state-of-the-art survey management systems enabling you to stand at the closest of your passengers’ feedbacks and expectations.

Airline Services

Save up to 15 mn on ground operations for each cycle, by relying on your IFS platform to generate structured reports by your cabin crew. Within a few months/years you will also be able to ensure the collection and funneling of all the connected equipment (seats, galleys, toilets…) for an even effective maintenance process.
Your caterer will also be delighted, and cost sensitive, if you offer him a platform that host the real time onboard status of the sales and missing items.

As mentioned in the introduction, airline can easily rely on powerful solutions to create new services and generate a significant ROI from their initial investment. The good news is that, alike the smartphone world, such services can be staged gradually, and can easily fit in an agile process for a secured ROI.