Qantas in 'world-first' tablet trial

Published Sep 15, 2011 10:58am

A model Qantas aeroplane sits on the stage as a photo of a Qantas employee is projected onto a screen during the release of company full-year results in Sydney on August 24, 2011. – AFP File Photo

SYDNEY: Passengers on Qantas will be the first in the world to have in-flight entertainment streamed wirelessly to tablet devices in a trial announced by the Australian airline Thursday.

To be rolled out from the end of next month on one Boeing 767-300 flying domestic routes, the six-week test will see Qantas's current entertainment programme broadcast to a tablet supplied by the airline.

The brand of tablet is yet to be confirmed, but Qantas said Apple's popular iPad was among the models being considered.

“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.

“We are very pleased to be the first airline in the world to trial this wireless streaming product,” said Alison Webster, the airline's customer experience manager.

It will be assessed for wider roll-out both domestically and internationally once the trial is complete, she added, with supplied tablets to be specially configured not to work outside the aircraft if stolen.

The plan could also see a “play-back” option to allow passengers who did not finish watching a programme on their own device before landing to complete their viewing, even after leaving the aircraft, Webster told the AAP newswire.

Replacing seat-back entertainment systems with tablets offered significant fuel efficiencies due to the weight saving, she added -- an important consideration as fuel prices rocket and Australia debates a pollution tax.

“We are all focused on fuel burn being environmentally friendly and we have huge commitments to sustainability targets,” Webster said.

American Airlines has launched a similar programme with Samsung's Galaxy tablet for first and business class domestic passengers, but content is pre-loaded rather than streamed direct.

Budget Qantas offshoot Jetstar already offers iPads for rent on some of its flights.


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