Passengers flying onboard Qantas will be the first in the world to have in-flight entertainment streamed wirelessly to individual tablet devices, in a trial announced by the airline. To be rolled out from the end of next month on the airline’s Boeing 767-300 flying domestic routes, the six-week test will see Qantas’s current entertainment program broadcast to a tablet supplied by the airline. While there is no confirmation on the brand of tablet, Qantas said Apple’s popular iPad was among the models being considered. The new facility, “Q Streaming”, will be made available to passengers for viewing on their own tablet, laptop or smartphone later in the trial and would be a key part of the scheme if ultimately adopted, Qantas said. It will be assessed for wider roll-out both domestically and internationally once the trial is complete, with supplied tablets to be configured not to work outside the aircraft if stolen.
A popular feature will be the “play-back” option which will allow passengers who did not finish watching a program on their own device before landing to complete their viewing, even after leaving the aircraft. Replacing seat-back entertainment systems with tablets means significant fuel efficiencies due to the weight saving — an important consideration for the airline, as fuel prices rocket and Australia debates a pollution tax. Budget Qantas offshoot Jetstar already offers iPads for rent on some of its flights.
American Airlines has a similar program with the Samsung’s Galaxy tablet for its first and business class domestic passengers, but content is pre-loaded rather than streamed direct.