Virgin Australia has signalled its intention to move toward a wi-fi based inflight entertainment system, signing an agreement with Lufthansa Services to develop and install a version of the company’s BoardConnect service from mid-2012.
The system will allow passengers to wirelessly access a library of movies, music, TV shows, games and other content using their own wi-fi enabled devices. Travellers can also use the system to order food and drinks or shop the duty free catalogue, Lufthansa says.
Virgin’s support for the platform adds momentum to the nascent trend away from traditional seat-back IFE toward wireless systems built around laptops, tablets and smartphones. Virgin America signed on with the system earlier this year.
In additional to allowing passengers to use what have already become nearly ubiquitous personal gadgets, Virgin could supplement the system by offering rental devices such as iPads to anyone without their own. Qantas launched a trial run of an iPad based system known as Q Streaming in September, and Jetstar began renting out preloaded iPads on selected flights in November.
Lufthansa says its system will help airlines save money by cutting installation and maintenance costs associated with traditional IFEs.