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American Airlines Expands Streaming In-Flight Movies

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the stream-the-sky dept.

Transportation 143

wolog writes "American began testing a wifi in-flight entertainment system last month on two wide-body jets and will expand the testing among customers this summer. If all goes well, American said, it will be the first domestic (US) airline to provide streaming service on all Wi-Fi-enabled planes, starting this fall. Of course, the airline industry offers in-flight entertainment not solely to keep passengers amused but also to generate revenue. I'm curious how such system works. Having 250+ wifi clients connected inside a long metallic cylinder and doing some video streaming seems a really big challenge."

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143 comments

Burn the koran (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36211160)

Re:Burn the koran (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36211814)

Burn the koran [goo.gl]

That links to one of those trendy idiotic barcode-like images that can be read with a smartphone. You thought you'd use a short URL to redirect to a Google-hosted image so someone can hold their smartphone up to the screen to decode whatever tripe you're trying to show them. Instead of just directly linking so they can just directly view it with whatever browser they are already using. Brilliant. This is a classic case of jury rigging, Afro Engineering, whatever you wanna call it.

Tho I agree about burning the Koran. We should do that. We should also draw cartoons of the prophet Mohammed and post them everywhere. On every web site and every frigging lamp post. Not because I hate Muslims. I don't hate Muslims. What I do hate is when one group, any group, thinks they are more important and more special than all the others, when they think even those who are not members of their group should conform to their group. Right now, that's Muslims.

I just think they need to grow up and accept that people who are not Muslims are not interested in conforming to Muslim norms and rules. Y'know, the exact same thing that Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Pagans, Wiccans, Taoists, Hindus, and others are expected to tolerate and accept on a daily basis. Christians in particular used to get violent and oppressive over their religion, like the Inquisition. You know what everyone including Christians calls that time? They call it the Dark Ages. Why do Muslims want to repeat the same mistake?

For some reason Muslims are encouraged to be hypersensitive about their religion. Well really everybody is encouraged to be hypersensitive about their group identity except whites and Christians. Difference is it's the Muslims who are getting violent about it. The rest of them are still belligerent and pretty damn childish about it. When people see that they don't respect it, they think "wow what a bunch of primitive savages". That isn't helping them and it isn't helping the people around them. What they need is some systematic desensitization [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Burn the koran (0)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#36212846)

Tho I agree about burning the Bible, the US flag and US constitution, Alabama and Texas state flags.

There, FTFY. Personally, I do not like it, but as a rhetorical argument seems good enough - but how do you like it?
Isn't any other way of reaching a point of "living together" other than by acts of destructions?

What I do hate is when one group, any group, thinks they are more important and more special than all the others, when they think even those who are not members of their group should conform to their group. Right now, that's US americans.

FTFY once again. Want arguments? Continue reading.

What they need is some systematic desensitization [wikipedia.org] .

Conditioning and taming, you say? Like in Pavlov experiments, but with humans instead of dogs, yes?

Well, that's already happening, except that the shit fed down to our (and your) throat is made of:

1. the war on terror/DHS/body-scanners,

2. Guantanamo/AbuGhraib and "collateral murder"

3. high-ranked politicians promoting assassinations on national broadcasts

4. MAFIAA/software-patents/domain-name-seizes and 3-strike-laws and list-of-infamous-nations-not-accepting-Nazi-copyright-laws (with Canada on 3r or whatever position), etc - those are the main "cultural exports" from US for the last decade and it's not something I like.

I'm totally disgusted - not hateful, just disgusted. For the sake of understanding between people, can't US find better cultural values and ways of promoting them?

Interesting! (2)

DWMorse (1816016) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211176)

And here I was always told that cell phones, laptop computers and personal electronics would crash the plane, if used in JUST the wrong, mysterious manner.

http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2006/10/30/ [penny-arcade.com]

Re:Interesting! (1)

creat3d (1489345) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211252)

A flight attendant once got mad when she noticed my CD player was spinning, not too long before take-off. I'm still confused as to how that could've been a danger, unless she was worried I wouldn't hear emergency instructions or notice the oxygen masks dropping if we crashed. And it was AC/DC by the way, what a bitch!

Re:Interesting! (2)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211296)

I once was asked to take off my head phones that wasn't connected to anything. I agree the airline regulation is overly cautious. But it's a lot easier telling the passengers to turn off everything rather than telling them to turn off any device that emits a radio signal. I can also understand why a flight attendant might get pissed, because she probably already told a hundred other people the same thing already that day.

Re:Interesting! (2)

ewanm89 (1052822) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211460)

Your neurons technically emit an EM signal, so I guess we should turn our brains off too.

It's like using a mobile phone in the petrol/gas station, there is just as much energy most of the time in the friction of the fuel moving down the pipes, that the EM from phone. And sparks off the battery, well, unless you are disassembling your phone at the petrol station with it turned on. Hospitals are validly different, they have rooms with extremely EM sensitive equipment, like nmr/MRI scanners.

No, it's all because they don't want to test every possible device to add them to the insurance.

Re:Interesting! (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#36212304)

Your neurons technically emit an EM signal, so I guess we should turn our brains off too.

Shouldn't be hard for most people. From what I've seen, the average passenger has a built in "Airplane" mode that shuts higher functioning down as soon as they get across the jetway.

Re:Interesting! (2)

Firehed (942385) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211504)

I've been asked the same. It's not because of signal interference (despite what they will claim), but because the flight attendants want to be able to easily get your attention during takeoff and landing if it becomes necessary. Of course the noise canceling drowns out engines wonderfully while it tends to allow speech through quite well so it probably would have *helped* them get my attention, but they have no way of knowing that.

Re:Interesting! (3, Interesting)

causality (777677) | more than 2 years ago | (#36212080)

I've been asked the same. It's not because of signal interference (despite what they will claim)

I agree and I note that the simple, well-understood term for this sort of behavior is: deception. I am rightly suspicious of people who use deception not as a last resort in a time of desperation, but as their very first preferred tactic. What would be so wrong with them saying, "takeoff and landing are the two most critical moments of the flight so we require as a condition of using our service that no one use devices known to cause distraction such as cellphones and headphones at these times". Without even trying it they immediately reject reason and honesty and use fear (of the plane crashing) as a tool of manipulation. Why do we tolerate that from people who are supposed to be serving us?

Well that's actually a rhetorical question. I know the answer. It's because getting to the intended destination is much more important to us than taking a stand and refusing to do business with anyone who treats us this way. It's also because this has become so common and usual that I don't think many people appreciate the dehumanization it really represents. What would they use as a basis of comparison?

but because the flight attendants want to be able to easily get your attention during takeoff and landing if it becomes necessary. Of course the noise canceling drowns out engines wonderfully while it tends to allow speech through quite well so it probably would have *helped* them get my attention, but they have no way of knowing that.

What's wrong with an alarm (or alert) system then? Something unmistakeable and unambiguous for use only in a genuine emergency, like bright red lights and a very loud (100-110dB) PA system so that any emergency announcement will definitely be heard over engine noise, movies, passenger chatter, and the like. Then if they really have a genuine need to quickly get the attention of everyone at once, they can do it. This doesn't suffer from the weakness of counting on every single individual to conform to bureaucratic rules with flimsy justifications. It has the added strength of not requiring flight attendants to be headphone nazis who deceptively micromanage their paying customers.

It's like we just insist on doing everything the hard way.

Re:Interesting! (1)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 2 years ago | (#36213008)

the genuine emergency alarm system could induce panic which can be fatal. the crowd psychology seems to argue for the current set-up; no rights are being seriously infringed, and we can just be smug about things. this does seem like the easy way; teaching people is hard.

Re:Interesting! (1)

Nethead (1563) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211674)

Take-off and landing is the most dangerous part of a flight. They don't want you to be tripped up by a trailing headphone cable if you have to exit the plane quickly.

Re:Interesting! (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 2 years ago | (#36212824)

Take-off and landing is the most dangerous part of a flight. They don't want you to be tripped up by a trailing headphone cable if you have to exit the plane quickly.

What cable? My headphones are bluetooth.

Re:Interesting! (2)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211272)

Nowadays laptops come with a few different radios onboard. Theres nothing stopping a clever person from adding their own radio or maybe adding jamming functionality. In this highly unlikely scenario communications and possibly more important functions can be disrupted.

Re:Interesting! (1)

ewanm89 (1052822) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211478)

Always been able to do that, the problem is unless you are next to the aircraft's antenna, you'd need big enough batteries to generate a big enough power source.

Re:Interesting! (1)

fermat1313 (927331) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211604)

Nowadays laptops come with a few different radios onboard. Theres nothing stopping a clever person from adding their own radio or maybe adding jamming functionality. In this highly unlikely scenario communications and possibly more important functions can be disrupted.

And you think that the flight attendant asking him to turn his equipment off is going to foil this plan?

Re:Interesting! (1)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211828)

American Airlines has announced that it is testing an in-flight video system that allows passengers to wirelessly stream movies and TV shows from an onboard library to their laptop computers and other electronic devices.

This gives me the impression that, atleast on this flight, passengers are not required to turn off their gadgets

Re:Interesting! (-1, Troll)

bleble (2183476) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211290)

There's really never been any problem. I need to do business flights many times a year and I usually fly with Emirates (United Arab Airlines). The first class private suites are truly awesome [emirates.com] and come with your own minibar, adjustable ambient lighting, big tv and lots of movies and a la carte menu. Drinks are free too and theres showers and spa. I have no idea why anyone would fly with American Airlines when you can have service like that.

I do also like flying with german airlines. If you fly business class theres always a specific person that serves whatever you may need - beer, your dinner and so on. And the service is great too - they usually assist me a guy, probably thinking I need some fun bro time while away from my girlfriend. Always had a great service too, like "my" guy asking me if I slept good (and they are sad if I didn't) and asking if I want more beer.

Re:Interesting! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36211356)

fun bro time while away from my girlfriend

WTF. Homoerotic flight attendants. Away from my wife I need a mistress, champagne or, better yet, a full blown orgy.

BTW, people fly with AA instead of Emirates because it's cheaper. Same with the new Virgin transatlantic service. You'll learn when you pay it out from your own pocket, you parasitic piece of shit.

I can get beer and a hot meal flying any fucking business class service in wherever company. German airliners seems neater, I do agree.

Re:Interesting! (2)

Firehed (942385) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211608)

There's really never been any problem. I need to do business flights many times a year and I usually fly with Emirates (United Arab Airlines). The first class private suites are truly awesome [emirates.com] and come with your own minibar, adjustable ambient lighting, big tv and lots of movies and a la carte menu. Drinks are free too and theres showers and spa. I have no idea why anyone would fly with American Airlines when you can have service like that.

Not everyone can get away with expensing an $19,000+ flight. Hell, the one time I flew first (it was the only opening available) at "only" ~5x the standard coach rate... yes, it was nice, but certainly not nice enough to justify the increase in price. 2-2.5x, maybe, but for the rest of the world without insane expense accounts, we'll just buy a new car instead.

Yes, it's actually that much for a JFK-Dubai roundtrip (for the random days I picked in late June).

Re:Interesting! (1)

crankyspice (63953) | more than 2 years ago | (#36213146)

Not everyone can get away with expensing an $19,000+ flight. Hell, the one time I flew first (it was the only opening available) at "only" ~5x the standard coach rate... yes, it was nice, but certainly not nice enough to justify the increase in price.

My experience has been the opposite, at least on American. In coach I can't get any work done, even on my MacBook Air. No room to move / mouse / etc., power plugs aren't guaranteed, etc. By paying the premium (about 3x coast-to-coast, U.S. domestic) for first class, I get enough screen / leg / (critically) elbow room to work throughout the flight, a guaranteed source of 12V power (less important with my newer Macs but back in the day of my first-gen C2D MacBook Pro, critical). At my normal billing rate, the flight more than pays for itself, and I arrive less stressed than if I'd wasted 4-6 hours... (There's a great old Palm Treo ad, it shows a harried professional, almost certainly a lawyer, getting into a cab in Manhattan. The caption reads: "It's 17 minutes to the airport. 17 billable minutes." Yeah.)

Re:Interesting! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36211740)

You are an ASSHAT TROLL. Seriously.

Re:Interesting! (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211876)

Explain to me how you fly nonstop from Miami to Barcelona on Emirates.

Re:Interesting! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36212062)

Yeah, next time I fly Seattle-Chicago I'll definitely go first-class international. <eyeroll> <facepalm>

Re:Interesting! (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211950)

Let's see... I fly back home to Shanghai in 10 days. It was $550 for one way with American Airlines, exit row. Decent enough for 12 hours on a plane. Emirates is around $13,000 for first class for the same flight. Yeah, that's a GREAT comparison!

Re:Interesting! (1)

cyberworm (710231) | more than 2 years ago | (#36212056)

I think the real deal behind this "regulation" isn't a problem with the equipment malfuncitoning. I personally think that they don't want to say "we would like for you to be un-encombered and alert in the event 'shit goes wrong'."

Saying "you need to hear our instructions in case of a crash" isn't really confidence inspiring at takeoff and landing.

Re:Interesting! (1)

velkro (11) | more than 2 years ago | (#36212106)

Correct. Provided the Aircraft has had EMI testing done, using WiFi isn't a hazard. Using your cellular radio is a waste of time, as you just drain the battery above about 10,000', but WiFi and Bluetooth work nicely. It's the same reason some airlines (I'm looking at you, Air Canada) now only allow earbud headphones connected to their IFE system during taxi/takeoff/landing. It's so they can get your attention if 'shut goes wrong'.

Re:Interesting! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36212296)

if that is you take on it, then you could say the same for airbags, seatbelts, emergency exits, firealarms, etc. etc.

it is highly unlikely that cellphones, laptops etc. will do anything to an airplane but electronics and everything on airplanes are tested and certified to the extreme, all the stuff passengers carry on is not, so better safe than sorry

Netflix + Altitude? (2)

malus (6786) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211198)

Forget it. I'm not watching movies when I fly. I'm drinking over-priced booze and groping flight attendants.

Re:Netflix + Altitude? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36211254)

Air hostesses, get it right!

Re:Netflix + Altitude? (1)

MagicM (85041) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211844)

Forget it. I'm not watching movies when I fly. I'm drinking over-priced booze and groping flight attendants.

Of course, captain.

Re:Netflix + Altitude? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 2 years ago | (#36212834)

Forget it. I'm not watching movies when I fly. I'm drinking over-priced booze and groping flight attendants.

Of course, captain.

Kirk.

Pretty easy as far as I can see (2)

bernywork (57298) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211256)

Multicast and an Aruba / Cisco AP for every 10 seats? Can't be that hard can it? It would be interesting sniffing data on that plane...

Terrible airline. (1, Interesting)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211270)

In my experiences, American Airlines is terrible compared to other non-US airlines. It would be nice if they invested more in edible food and better service. Not to mention, they will probably charge you for a movie (all US airlines seem to nickle and dime you). I don't see how this will be much of a benefit for the customer. I guess you'd have to bring your own iPad/Smart phone with you too. Good luck watching a whole movie on your phone before the battery runs out. On the other hand, Singapore Airlines has great service, decent food, and a personal entertainment system with a huge library of movies and shows which you can watch for free.

Re:Terrible airline. (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211664)

I was wondering what the summary meant by IFE as a revenue generator - it seems a fairly sizeable step backwards to from free in-seat screens to paid movies that you have to bring your own laptop for, if that is indeed their plan. I guess as a retrofit for planes without LCDs it might work, but if I'm on a regional jet it'll only be for a few hours anyway; it'd just feel petty and unnecessary to pay for video if that's how long I need to occupy myself for.

As a free service, it'd be a nice alternative to the systems they have now (which can be a bit clunky), but that "Of course, the airline industry offers in-flight entertainment not solely to keep passengers amused but also to generate revenue." sentence implies it's going to be another excuse for them to extract a few bucks from their customers.

Re:Terrible airline. (1)

ogre7299 (229737) | more than 2 years ago | (#36212000)

Not all of American's jets have in-seat entertainment. The entire 767 fleet does not have in-seat entertainment, merely the overhead screens. The 777 fleet does have the in-seat screens, but perhaps you would get different options, and your laptop screen is probably nicer to watch something off of than the small ones in the seat.

As for American being a terrible airline, I have to disagree with you. Perhaps they're not a nice as some of the international carriers due to the cut-throat market in the US, but I have been quite happy with my experiences flying them for domestic and international purposes.

Re:Terrible airline. (2)

superposed (308216) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211676)

It would be nice if they invested more in edible food and better service."

I used to wonder how shortchanging customers on food could possibly make a significant difference to the profit on a multi-hundred-dollar ticket. Then I realized that in a world where everyone chooses the cheapest ticket from Orbitz or Kayak, airlines have to get their ticket price as low as possible. If that means nickle-and-diming their customers, scrimping on food and service, then that's what they'll do. Because if they don't, a competitor will, and the competitor will be able to sell many more tickets for a few dollars less.

Re:Terrible airline. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#36212010)

This is why when I use those services I exclude any tickets from US carriers. I have no problem paying $1300 instead of $1200 for tickets that give me a seat fit for my 5'7" frame and edible food. How bigger folks manage, I do not understand.

Re:Terrible airline. (1)

XManticore (2128426) | more than 2 years ago | (#36212568)

I'm 192cm (pretty tall), but you don't have to pay extra –show up extra early to check in and ask to be put right at the front of the cabin. There aren't any seats in front of you, and there's loads of leg room. The disadvantage is, mothers with small babies often get put there as well, so you may have to put up with the smell of poo.

Re:Terrible airline. (1)

WuphonsReach (684551) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211702)

I guess you'd have to bring your own iPad/Smart phone with you too. Good luck watching a whole movie on your phone before the battery runs out.

Er, I don't know what smart phones you've been using, but watching 2-3 hours of video on a Blackberry Storm2 is well within the range of possible. I wouldn't expect it to last for a full 5 hour flight though (bring a 2nd battery). But you can definitely watch a 2-hour movie.

When it comes to electronics with field replaceable batteries - pack a spare battery that is charged up and ready to go.

Re:Terrible airline. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36211884)

Southwest, Jetblue or a foreign carrier. I don't bother with those other jokers if I can avoid it.

Also the last Southwest flight I was on had WiFi for $5.

Re:Terrible airline. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#36212348)

In my experiences, American Airlines is terrible compared to other non-US airlines. It would be nice if they invested more in edible food and better service.

When people start choosing airlines on the basis of service and food rather than because one flight is $.05 cheaper than the other, then the airlines will change. Not one second before.

Seems a really big challenge (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36211278)

Keeping a long metallic cylinder at 30k feet is a really big challenge.

Wi-fi streaming in said cylinder is a slightly smaller challenge.

Re:Seems a really big challenge (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211588)

I think the main concern was interference with the flight electronics. You know sort of the way modern cell phones interfere with speakers. I would think that it would be easily enough fixed, although it does get more complicated than usual as you can't just throw more shielding at the problem until it's definitely solved.

I'm not sure why this would be a problem with older planes, the ones that were prior to the fly by wire innovations, those you'd just have to make sure the cockpit was shielded from the seating area whatever that's called. These days they have to worry about more than just the instrument panel getting funky.

Re:Seems a really big challenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36212084)

You know, the interference you'll hear on speakers is due to GSM 'time division transmitter', where rising edges creates high 'power / frequency' spikes.
For Wifi, which is not time division technology, this 'interference' is far less and hardly causing any harm to any 'flight electronics'

Nothing really new. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36211288)

They are just allowing you to stream from their server from a limited set of movies/shows. The only new concept here is now that you have to bring your own hardware instead of using the on board flight entertainment system (which have had streaming from servers for years.)

Its the cellphones that are the problem (2)

SplashMyBandit (1543257) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211304)

Its the cellphones that were the real problem, for two principal reasons:

  • * When the 700+ cellphones and devices pass near all the cellphone towers visible to the high-flying aircraft those towers can be overloaded, and
  • * Having people jibber-jabbering on cellphones in close confines over longer flights will result in all sorts of social problems (conflicts, if someone can't stop talking really annoyingly over the entire flight).

Initially the 'navigation' angle was used as the effects were unknown, but pretty much that has been found to be a non-issue - but still a handy excuse to keep cellphone use down for the above reasons.

Re:Its the cellphones that are the problem (1)

Lifyre (960576) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211546)

Man how many cell devices do you think I (much less a normal person) carry? Even the Airbus A380 doesn't carry that many passengers except in a single passenger class configuration. For the vast majority (pretty much every plane except that A380) of aircraft that would be close to 2+ (a few of the 747 variants would be closer to 1.5) devices per person.

Other than that your points are spot on. I'm sure that the towers could be engineered to handle the transient loads but the social aspects would likely still be enough to make it a reasonable prohibition.

Re:Its the cellphones that are the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36211648)

It's not the number of cellphone holders, it's the tower coverage.

From where you are at your computer, your cellphone can probably see from 1 to 5 towers. Tower "hand-offs" happen only when you're roving around, which is never very fast.

From 35,000 feet with relatively little atmospheric interference, each cellphone can see an order of magnitude more - or greater - number of cell towers. At 400mph they are constantly "handing off" over and over. A single cellphone switching between 30 towers at 400mph continuing in a trail 30 towers wide can wreak havoc on a network; 400 can be bad, and the constant air traffic everywhere over the US (you ignore it but it's there) would be impossible to handle.

Re:Its the cellphones that are the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36211998)

I'm sure that the towers could be engineered to handle the transient loads

Well, actually, they're not. They're engineered to handle roaming on a 2D plane (pun intended), and not to take altitude into account.

When you're on the ground, your phone can only register to a limited number of towers, ie. the ones it's close enough to send signal to, and which are not blocked by buildings, trees and whatnot. And that's good, because the carriers databases, which track your device, are based on the fact that you can't physically be several places at once, so they expect that you cell phone will only pop up in neighboring cells.

But when you're some 10k feet up in the air, your Blackberry has pretty much direct, unblocked line-of-sight to a large number of towers, and your cellphone registers all over the place. The system is not supposed to handle that.

That's why, lady and gentlemen, you have to shut down you cellphone during a flight. So that carriers don't have to rethink their databases and upgrade their networks.

Re:Its the cellphones that are the problem (1)

Lifyre (960576) | more than 2 years ago | (#36212242)

I said could be. You pretty much backed up what I was saying.

Re:Its the cellphones that are the problem (1)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 2 years ago | (#36212018)

It would not surprise me if the average number of cellular devices per person on a plane is over 1. First off, everyone probably has their cell phone. Including at least half the kids. Then start adding in iPads, Kindles, Nooks, etc. that all have cellular connections for data. (Depending on model.) A few people in business and first class probably have cellular modems on their laptops, often as well as the above.

I guessing the average traveler carries more cellular devices than you'd think. ;)

Re:Its the cellphones that are the problem (1)

isorox (205688) | more than 2 years ago | (#36212408)

  • * When the 700+ cellphones and devices pass near all the cellphone towers visible to the high-flying aircraft those towers can be overloaded, and

Really? When I have my phone turned on on a plane I don't get a signal -- even at altitudes low enough to get GPS on an iphone.

  • * Having people jibber-jabbering on cellphones in close confines over longer flights will result in all sorts of social problems (conflicts, if someone can't stop talking really annoyingly over the entire flight).

First flight I travelled on which allowed cell phones was a pilot in July 2007, had two kids behind us with text messages beeping away which was slightly annoying. Since then I've travelled on a few flights (mainly EK) that allow phones, never noticed people using phones on them.

In addition, all long haul flights I travel on have a phone in the seat. I've never seen anyone use it so I don't know if the system still works.

Many airlines, like Qantas, are happy for you to turn your phone on after wheels down and taxiing. BA tell you to keep them off until engines are off -- very annoying as it takes my phone a few minutes to get a signal, and I like to check my email on landing to see if there's anything I need to sort before heading through a potential 90 minute queue at immigration.

"from an on-board library" (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211306)

The streaming will be from an on-board library, an important caveat not mentioned in the summary.

Re:"from an on-board library" (2)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 2 years ago | (#36212190)

Expect to pay $39.95 to watch a movie, and have a smaller and more out of date selection than your average Redbox kiosk.

Re:"from an on-board library" (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 2 years ago | (#36213188)

The streaming will be from an on-board library, an important caveat not mentioned in the summary.

So basically it's going to be like the wired system in the seat back except slower and more unreliable.

Inside a pringles can (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211322)

At least you don't have to worry about interference from the neighbours.

But what DEVICES? (0)

markdavis (642305) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211342)

And exactly what hardware, operating system, and client software are to be required for such a system of "streaming movies" to work?

MS-Windows XP laptop?
Xoom tablet?
Linux notebook?
iPad?
Android phone?

Re:But what DEVICES? (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211412)

For the Linux netbook crowd, they are not the intended consumer. They (we) are the cheap ones who would bring their own movies and use the sneakernet with thumb drives to exchange movies in flight.

The airlines are after the rich who can afford the latest tablet and not a sub $300 Costco special.

Re:But what DEVICES? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36212760)

Anyone who can afford to get on a plane flight is rich by my standards.

Tag this meaningless (2)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211400)

If it is only for the largest planes, then it isn't all that helpful for a lot of travellers (myself included). Many people find the vast majority of their air travel is on small jets or turboprops. If this never trickles down to those - and likely it never will - then it doesn't matter. This reminds me of reading a Continental in-flight magazine that told me about the new full-recline sleeper seats that are in first class on the largest planes. Being as I was riding steerage class on an EmbraerJet - and all the other legs of my journey were the same - it had no value for my travel.

Re:Tag this meaningless (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211434)

It's not really a problem that needs to be solved for those though. Most of those are a couple of hours, so there's hardly even enough time to see a whole movie.

Re:Tag this meaningless (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211618)

No, but having a few TV shows available when you're leaving late would be nice. I liked flying Alaskan, but they did have a nasty habit of running late.

Additionally, it would be nice to have TV available to watch when you're settling down after the pre-flight groping.

Re:Tag this meaningless (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#36213198)

It's not really a problem that needs to be solved for those though. Most of those are a couple of hours, so there's hardly even enough time to see a whole movie.

Movie? I don't care much about whether I can watch a movie or not, I'd like to get some of the basic amenities that are supposedly "standard" on the large planes - like power for example. If I'm going to be a sardine stuffed in steerage class, I would at least like to be able to plug in my laptop so I can get some work done.

I've had days where I have had 2 or more flights of 2+ hours each, with an hour or so layover in between, all on planes that are too small to have power available. Add in taxi time and other periods in between, and my laptop can't sleep that long and still have enough power to do useful work; hence I have to power down and then power back up. But of course with the power used to boot up, I have that much less battery available to do anything useful while on the flight; even going through presentation slides might not be doable.

Re:Tag this meaningless (1)

isorox (205688) | more than 2 years ago | (#36212652)

If it is only for the largest planes, then it isn't all that helpful for a lot of travellers (myself included).

The largest of planes tend to fly on the longest of routes.I couldn't give a monkeys about on-board entertainment, or at-seat power, on a typical 2 hour jaunt around Europe, or even shorter flights like New York to Washington. A 14 hour flight to Singapore means I'll be watching at least 2 moives during that time, and the number onboard does seem to be quite restrictive after the 7th or 8th LH flight with the same selection.

Of course, a few terrabytes of extra space with a large back catalog would do the trick nicely.

Many people find the vast majority of their air travel is on small jets or turboprops.

If you're flying more than 3 hours on a small jet, I'm sorry you can't find a better carrier.

This reminds me of reading a Continental in-flight magazine that told me about the new full-recline sleeper seats that are in first class on the largest planes

It's worse when you're on the same plane as the flat beds, but you're crammed in economy overnight. When I pay for my own overnight flights I'll stump up for business with the flat beds, but those are rare. I agree they're nice though!

Being as I was riding steerage class on an EmbraerJet - and all the other legs of my journey were the same - it had no value for my travel.

But how long was that flight? Maximum range is about 3h30 isn't it? It's barely worth lying down on short flights.

wifi setup? (1)

kipsate (314423) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211414)

I can imagine a setup where for instance every couple of rows has its own wifi-network on its own channel. This way, bandwidth can be increased to levels which enable streaming video to more than just a few passengers simultaneously.

This would require multiple wifi hotspots in the plane, so some wiring is obviously still required.

Re:wifi setup? (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211596)

True but there are really only three channels that don't over lap. Doing very high density wifi is trouble.

Re:wifi setup? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211628)

In some ways, it always made more sense to me to just put wired connections in. It's not like you're going to be using your wireless devices to run all over the plane. And I'm curious just how much weight you're really saving by not having those wires. I suppose the answer is a lot more than I think it would take to do all that wiring.

More leg room first ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36211438)

Can we get more leg room in economy class first. With the tray table almost slicing my stomach, there isn't much fun watching a movie on my laptop.

what about power ports will there be ones in each (0)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211464)

what about power ports will there be ones in each row?

Re:what about power ports will there be ones in ea (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211632)

I've heard of those, but the only time I've ever seen them was on the train. I don't think I've ever flown in a plane that actually had any of those amenities. I think the most recent innovation in that respect was when they went to TVs instead of the one screen and those silly head phone jacks over the older style ones.

Re:what about power ports will there be ones in ea (1)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 2 years ago | (#36212032)

If you fly economy+ or better there will be power ports on just about all airlines these days. (It's a DC jack, not found anywhere on the ground, so you'll need a special adaptor.)

Give it at least ten years before it hits economy.

Re:what about power ports will there be ones in ea (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 2 years ago | (#36212254)

I was actually just on a United jet that had 3-prong power cords under the seats (2 plugs per 3 seat unit). That was nice. On the other hand, I'm modestly surprised that they didn't try to charge me for the electricity. (They already have a credit-card swipe slot in each seat-back so you can pay $8 to watch DirecTV on your flight. Nickel-and-diming you is the United way.)

Optomistic much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36211548)

250? You're as optimistic as their marketing folks. When's the last time you were on a plane and saw more than 5-10 people using the pricey internet/wireless service??

Why wi fi? (1)

Corse32 (682019) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211774)

What is a wire not accomplishing here that radio signals are needed to overcome? Could it possibly be a lack of marketing buzz-word juice for the hussy? Albeit about 10 years behind the buzz... This plane is a literally a giant cloud app. How about that one.

Re:Why wi fi? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36211908)

Wires are heavy

Re:Why wi fi? (1)

Corse32 (682019) | more than 2 years ago | (#36212132)

Good point, but surely some kind of copper is always going to make its way to every seat? Unless they power the reading lights remotely, which actually DOES sound like a recipe for serious control malfunctions :lol:

Delta has been doing this for years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36211776)

Why is this article even a big deal? Delta has been doing video on demand for years. Video on demand is on almost every international Delta flight I have been on in the last 3 years.

Don't Expect Much (5, Interesting)

Nikkos (544004) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211834)

I flew AA to Japan and back earlier this year. The in-flight entertainment systems were spotty and from what I could tell, at least 10% of them didn't work well if at all - including 2 of the 5 nearest me. Touchscreens didn't work, sound plugs didn't work, random resets in the middle of movies (with no recourse but to watch the whole movie over again) or devices that would do nothing but show static. The systems were so unbelievably crappy that it made me wonder how well the rest of the aircraft was serviced.

Re:Don't Expect Much (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#36212026)

Don't fly on AA, avoid United as well. Delta is the least bad US carrier, but they still suck compared to foreign carriers.

Re:Don't Expect Much (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 2 years ago | (#36212780)

Don't fly on AA, avoid United as well. Delta is the least bad US carrier, but they still suck compared to foreign carriers.

It depends on the plane/route. I've flown a fair bit with Delta (especially transatlantic) and the ex-Northwest planes/routes tend to be much nicer than the "original" Delta ones. (Where I live is terrible for flying with either AA or United, but that's for reasons that are nothing to do with any US carrier.) I suspect a lot of this is linked to the age of the planes, especially in the US domestic market. Mind you, if the flight's only an hour or two it's hardly a big deal; a newspaper can cover that sort of timespan just fine.

Re:Don't Expect Much (1)

vu2lid (126111) | more than 2 years ago | (#36212398)

, random resets in the middle of movies (with no recourse but to watch the whole movie over again)

That must be a really poorly designed system. I have experience using IFES of a number of non-US carriers - I found them to be really sophisticated and reliable applications (approaching the level of complexity of an operating system). At least in the case of ICE (Emirates) it is Linux (Redhat).

Re:Don't Expect Much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36212456)

As said somewhere else in this thread, comparing Emirates to AA is really comparing apples to orange. AA is multiple times cheaper.

Re:Don't Expect Much (1)

vu2lid (126111) | more than 2 years ago | (#36212580)

As said somewhere else in this thread, comparing Emirates to AA is really comparing apples to orange. AA is .

This is incorrect. I KNOW that AA is not

multiple times cheaper

- at least for the routes I take. In fact even the actual paid ticket price is comparable (if you compare the maintenance, service, food, checked in charges it may turn out to be cheaper than AA).

Why would you bother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36211842)

And how much will they charge for this?
$10 per movie?
$20 per movie?
Considering how much American Airlines charge for food and drink on their flights, I'm sure that they'll price it such that maybe 1 in 1000 actually use it.

More seriously, just how many of American's flights will this operate on? For domestic routes, pretty much only those that are east coast to west coast are long enough to make it worth your while - if the average movie is around 2 hours long, then factor in that airlines generally don't turn such things on for at least the first 15 minutes and everything is off again by the last 15, the minimum flight time will be 2 to 3 hours.

On international routes, the only reason I'd fly American is if I was penny pinching myself. Their in flight service to Europe is plain awful when compared with any European airline. It may be "luxurious" to Americans who've never flown a real airline but to anyone else, its something you experience because you have to, not because you want to.

Focus (1)

theurge14 (820596) | more than 2 years ago | (#36212030)

It's good to see AA is focusing on having their planes arrive on time instead of other seemingly unrelated ventures of air transportation.

Oops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36212124)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/erikcharlton/348280630/

Bandwidth Limitations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36212866)

Does this mean other countries already do this?

The bandwidth is there, imagine what can be done if the FCC feed up more bandwidth than the small amount of bandwidth that it allows for Wifi?

What is the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36213092)

When I can just put a few movies/episodes of a TV on my computer and use that during the flight instead?

It'll Suck... (1)

Frankenshteen (1355339) | more than 2 years ago | (#36213120)

It'll take years to make right, but in the meantime - AA will make millions in fees from customers trying it for the first, second, third time.
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