20 April 2008

Airline IFE – Stop being fancy – make it work

Airline IFE – Stop being fancy – make it work - PLEASE

Having spent many days on aircraft of the commercial variety – I can pretty much tell how good or bad an In Flight system is.
Pretty much the designers think of it as a necessary evil and not necessarily do they think it through.

I cannot count how many times I have watched Delta’s Linux based system reboot. I was even thinking about getting a penguin and dressing him up in a flight attendant’s uniform. The worst example of IFE I ever experienced was on Emirates first version of the A340-500 Biz class. It was just diabolically difficult to use. Wires and crap everywhere. I have been on more flights that needed resets than not. Particularly the power. In seat power should be standard and work fine. As I write this on DL 737-800 it has power working in some ports not all.

So here is some advice for airlines that I hope they heed. If they don’t then I guess I shall be SOL.

1. Fix the equipment. This needs to be hardened and reliable.
2. A big suggestion don’t make a one reset button for the whole system. That is just stupid.
3. Fix the controls. Make them simple. All IFE designers should go back to School. The User Experience is about making it simple and straightforward and easy.
4. There is such a thing as TOO much choice. Virgin America take note.
5. The headset socket combo. How difficult is it to make this work. Sticking the headset jack where it will get knocked all the time is just stupid.
6. Reasonable headsets. An aircraft is noisy. So acknowledge that and sell reasonable ones that work reliability.
7. Good content – this is much improved but still there is just only so much you can deal with.
8. Make it easy for the Flight Attendants to work the thing. All FAs I have ever spoken to believe that this is way more complicated than necessary.

God help us when we have internet access and email on US airlines. I loved Connection and used it on SQ, LH and SK. It was pretty cool using Skype to call friends from the plane – but the quality was good enough for even conference calls.

So pay attention Knuckleheads. IFE has to be easy and useful.

Please fix this.



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