The past few weeks have been huge for premium cabin redesign news. Singapore Airlines and Emirates are not pulling any punches in their first class suite redesigns. Alas, those products are mostly irrelevant for most travelers. A first class suite doesn’t matter for the 99%+ of consumers. They’re not a factor for business travelers and they’re certainly not something that affects a family vacation. They’re niche solutions for a shrinking market. And yet.
Sifting through all the innovation and development that these products engender there are times where true, broad benefits come to the surface. So, how does technology evolve to improve travel for everyone on board, not just those ensconced in the suites?
Panasonic’s Personalization Play
Delivering a better travel experience today comes from making a passenger feel more in control of the journey. For several years that discussion centered around the concept of “personalization” on board, delivering entertainment and service options that the traveler selects, not those that the airline mandates. Singapore Airlines and Panasonic Avionics teamed up on the Companion App for the inflight entertainment kit a year ago, hoping to deliver on this promise.
That version of myKrisWorld It was a relatively basic product. Passengers could create a playlist on a mobile device in advance of the flight and then sync that to the seat once on board. It was personal, but very much a first generation play in the space. With the new seats announced earlier this month comes a new version of the companion app, and personalization is getting real.
Today, we’re taking that personalized experience to even greater heights with a series of innovative features that include passenger log-in at their seat; playlist, bookmark, language preference storage and wallpaper customization between flights; customized and personalized entertainment spotlights; popular, trending and recommended content; and exclusive content based on frequent flier tier. – Hideo Nakano, Chief Executive Officer for Panasonic Avionics Corp
This is not just a passenger planning in advance. The system can now “know” the traveler, using data processing to provide feedback, recommendations and inflight benefits. This is possible thanks to improvements in the eX3 inflight entertainment system and also because of full-fleet inflight connectivity on the Singapore Airlines fleet. PAC’s systems are monitoring and managing ever increasing amounts of data about content consumption and passenger behavior. Rather than reporting on those trends at the end of the month or even the end of a flight, however, the company is able to process in near real-time.
These types of solutions require ever increasing volumes of data to move between the aircraft and systems on the ground; connectivity is critical to the success of such personalization efforts. For Singapore Airlines and PAC the connectivity integration is slightly more complicated thanks to multiple service providers being involved with different connection technologies at hand. Singapore Airlines runs inflight connectivity across SwiftBroadBand (L-band), Ku-band and Global Xpress Ka-band services. SITAONAIR and Panasonic provide integration on top of that. And the new personalization solution is set to be seamless, despite those differences.
We’re not quite to the point of loading a movie over the connectivity pipe in real time because a first class passenger changed their mind on what to watch on a particular flight, at least not that the airlines are advertising. But the connectivity providers all agree that such moves are possible on the most recent generation of their platforms.
This is not a fully personalized travel experience. At least not yet. But that is most assuredly coming. The evolution of these systems is going to be spectacular.
Images courtesy of Panasonic Avionics Corporation