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Alaska Airlines joins carriers deploying mobile inflight entertainment

Alaska Airlines is the latest carrier to join a growing number of airlines leveraging consumers? mobile devices to stream inflight entertainment.

Guests flying on the airline can now access free entertainment on their personal mobile devices through Jan. 31, 2015, including recently released movies and television shows. Following in the footsteps of United Airlines? similar program rollout, the inflight entertainment system is designed to provide customers with convenience and personalization on devices they are already familiar with.

?This is definitely an optimal strategy for airlines to take to provide customers entertainment on flights,? said Esha Shah, manager of mobile strategy at Fetch, San Francisco. ?More and more consumers are watching their favorite shows and movies on their mobile device, so it?s a smart move from Alaskan Airlines to take advantage of this behavior.

?Also, by leveraging consumers own devices, the airline avoids the cost of installing seatback entertainment systems, while the latest smartphones provide more functionality and flexibility than traditional in-flight systems provide.?

Differentiating from carriers
The inflight system, titled Alaska Beyond Entertainment, aims to differentiate the Seattle-based airline from other carriers. Other amenities of the entertainment platform include a new artisan beverage and food program and Recaro seats in the cabins that offer each guest personal power.

Alaska Airlines guests can power-up their personal electronic devices using the USB and standard power outlets available at each seat. The new Recaro seats offer six-way adjustable headrests, three inches of recline and more personal space.

Customers can find the power outlets in the seatback in front of them.

The entertainment service will be available immediately on 50 of Alaska Airline?s 737 planes, and will be rolled out to the rest of the Boeing 737 fleet by spring 2015.

Guests will have access to the complimentary content until Jan. 31, 2015. Beginning Feb. 1, the television shows and films can be purchased for fees starting at $1.99.

Wireless content
Guests can review the Flight Amenities card located on seatbacks to find out what content is available. The Alaska Beyond entertainment service is powered by Gogo Vision, which wirelessly streams content from an aircraft?s onboard server to consumers? smartphones and tablets.

The content will become viewable once the carrier reaches an altitude of 10,000 feet. To use the inflight service, guests can visit the Gogo Inflight network, launch the browser and choose the ?Entertainment? button.

For customers that do not have a mobile device or prefer not to use their own, a video player with pre-loaded content can be rented aboard the aircraft on longer flights.

United Airlines launched a similar inflight service available on mobile in November, which is accessible via the United mobile application (see story). Passengers can now use their devices to stream hundreds of complimentary shows and movies using the aircraft?s Wi-Fi.

The airline has discovered that many travelers prefer to view entertainment on their own devices, prompting other airlines to introduce inflight entertainment platforms for smartphones and tablets.

?Now that over two thirds of Americans have smartphones, it will make sense of airlines to leverage their customers own devices for inflight entertainment,? Ms. Shah said. ?Additionally, the airline could provide notifications to their customers connected to the In Flight entertainment via Wi-Fi, such as information about flight delays, beverage and food service, or even upcoming promotions on future flights.

?By keeping it all centralized, airlines retain a greater ability to understand and interact with their customers.?

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York