How much does inflight entertainment weigh? The Singapore airline Scoot says that removing the IFE systems from their 777’s reduced the weight by 7%! When you consider that the requirement for fuel on an aircraft is made up of both distance and weight, a 7% saving is huge. The article I read this in, in Businessweek, goes onto say that the IFE on a Lufthansa A380 weighs a total of a ton.
No wonder airlines are scrabbling to innovate in this area – consumers expect IFE, and yet, it increases costs significantly. One solution is to rent out ipads – but where do you put your ipad when you’re trying to eat your dinner, especially in coach?
As someone who travels with a laptop, an ipad, and 10 or more magazines, the answer is simple. Take off, landing and eating are for magazines. When in coach, have an empty plastic bag in your carryon. You can put the read magazines in it, and that keeps your seat tidier. Laptops are for work, when I’m not travel exhausted. My ipad is for reading something trashy when I am. (In fact, to save weight, airlines should just start weighing my carry-on!).
Another solution which is being tried is using the IFE systems for e-commerce. Airlines already sell space in their in-flight magazines for advertising revenue. If they do the same for the IFE, they can recoup some (or all) of the additional cost it causes.
All this goes to show, that no matter where you’ve got to on the innovation curve, there’s always further to go.