Philippine Airlines Installing Wireless IFE on Entire Long Haul Fleet

After months of public pressure, Philippine Airlines has finally announced that it will install its wireless in-flight entertainment system on its A340 fleet and an additional five A330 aircraft. The wireless system was first introduced aboard some A330 aircraft four months ago.

Image Source: Tab Times
Philippine Airlines has drawn widespread criticism and mixed reviews for choosing to install a wireless in-flight entertainment system on their new aircraft, rather than a conventional seat back entertainment system that provides each passenger with a personal television featuring audio and video on demand.

PAL management have argued that the trend in the industry is moving to wireless based systems given the increasing number of passengers bringing their own personal devices such as tablets and smart phones. While this seems to be an accepted practice in other countries on regional or domestic routes, Philippine Airlines is one of the first international carriers to use this service exclusively on a long-haul basis. 

Images Source: Australian Business Traveller
Qantas of Australia has introduced a wireless system on its Boeing 717 and 767 aircraft, but has provided tablets for passengers at every seat. But passengers travelling in economy on Philippine Airlines must rent tablets pending availability. On a recent flight from Osaka to Manila, a Philippine Flight Network passenger aboard a PAL A330-300 requested the use of an iPad tablet to test out the wireless system. However, the flight attendant advised that all business class passengers had used up the entire available inventory of tablets.

Leading carriers such as Emirates do not believe that the industry is ready to eliminate seat back entertainment, at least not for the next few years. According to Mary Kirby, Editor-in-Chief of Airline Passenger Experience magazine, although the idea of streaming content wirelessly has been introduced, the traditional embedded systems remain just as important as before. She noted that Hollywood studios presently do not permit streaming of early-window content to personal devices, and therefore can only be released through embedded IFE systems.

Although Qantas has decided to provide entertainment through iPads at every seat, Kirby noted that this does not necessarily define a trend for the future. "You might see some carriers forego the screen in the future, but I think what we'll see is more screens. Look at Singapore Airlines. They've just invested in a brand new IFE system," said Kirby. "There's no way that they could have just said 'wireless is the future' and ripped their screens out, because it would put them at a competitive disadvantage against all the other carriers. What we're going to see is more screens, more content, and better IFE."

However, Kirby added that wireless IFE is a suitable option for short-haul carriers that may have once overlooked traditional IFE, as the wireless system provides a more cost-effective solution that can even generate revenue for low-cost carriers. Kirby believes that wireless IFE systems are best suited for short and medium-haul carriers.

As for Philippine Airlines, embedded IFE is only available on the seat backs of the carrier's fleet of six Boeing 777 aircraft, which serves North American routes. There is also Mobile OnAir and Internet OnAir available on the Boeing 777 fleet. Although some A330 aircraft already have a wireless in-flight entertainment system installed, the carrier has announced that it will be installing the system on an additional five A330 aircraft and six A340 aircraft, covering the carrier's entire long-haul fleet. 

Copyright Photo: Kenny Li/PPSG
This will enable all long-haul passengers to take advantage of OnAir's full in-flight entertainment suite of audio and video on demand, along with mobile phone and wireless internet services. However, additional fees may apply for certain services and passengers will require a tablet or wireless device. For economy passengers, iPad tablets can be rented from Philippine Airlines for an additional fee.

According to Ramon Ang, outgoing President of Philippine Airlines, the passengers' response to using their own tablets, phones, and laptops to access wireless entertainment and connectivity has been overwhelmingly positive. "Through PAL's iNAiR offerings, passengers can now select from an array of movies, television programs, and music thus enabling them to customize their in-flight entertainment," said Ang. "Adding OnAir Play to more aircraft was an easy decision. While we are very much aware that we are breaking new ground by not having traditional embedded IFE on the brand new A330's, there is no question that wireless IFE is working for our passengers."

Ian Dawkins, CEO of OnAir, added that Philippine Airlines has paved the way with OnAir's in-flight WiFi, mobile phone service, and wireless in-flight entertainment. "We are delighted that the combination has proved such a success for them," said Dawkins. "We expect this to become an industry standard.”

However, some critics remain sceptical suggesting that passengers would naturally be drawn to the wireless entertainment system, if the alternative is mainscreen, which is what is currently available on the Philippine Airlines A340 fleet. The wireless technology provides a video-on-demand option for passengers, which is far more appealing than mainscreen entertainment. But it remains unclear if passengers that are used to embedded in-flight entertainment with personal televisions would accept wireless entertainment as an acceptable substitute, unless provisions such as complimentary tablets at every seat were provided as has been the case with Qantas in Australia.

36 comments:

  1. I hope they install power outlets on all the seats, especially if they're going to have wifi IFE on longhaul flights.

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    1. A fully charged ipad with streaming video will only be up for 5 hours. for flights beyond 5 hours PAL needs to provide a solution to charge the ipad or keep the ipad device up and about

      a built in outlet will be fine and a power charging device could turn out to be a hazardous thing.

      since PAL is a full service airline, with the cost of IFE built into the price of its plane ticket, passengers should not bear additional cost to access the wireless IFE.

      as an aside, 7/11 Convenience Stores charge P50 for a 30-minute charging of a cell phone.

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    2. New A330s and 777s have usb outlets both business and economy. I dont know A340 but I know there are power outlets in business

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    3. Ipads in PAL comes with fully charged power banks. You just have to ask for it.

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  2. PALusot na naman ang mga to sa pagiging kuripot..

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    1. Is that the very best comment you can give? Poor man.

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  3. They should improve the connectivity of their wifis. Watching videos need powerful connectivity and not a connectivity that stops and freezes every now and then. A slow and freezing wifi would only spoil the inflight entertainment and bring the issue back to its root.

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  4. I don't care what PAL does, just as long as they don't take the B777s from the Toronto route. I want my personal TV in my plane. Sorry na lang pag pinalitan nila ng eroplano na walang personal TV ang Toronto. Balik Cathay ako pag nangyari eto.

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    1. Squatter na squatter ah!

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    2. Meron pala squatter na frequent flyer... hahaha... sorry pero comment mo doesn't really make sense ;)

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    3. Or baka naman inggit ka sa mga taga Toronto, kami lang ang may full time 777 service. Taga Saudi ka ano? haahaha

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  5. I think mas ok ang IFE kesa yang wireless n yan. Di kasi lahat meron laptop, tablets, i think aim niyo lng jan is to used the PAL INTERNET connection subscription.


    PALusot sa kakuriputan. But its already acceptable na upgrade kesa sa flight n boring na talagang walang wala

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  6. Legacy airlines like PAL has always provided FREE inflight entertainment as part of its overall service. IFE could be the large screen in the middle of the plane, IFE could be the individual TV infront of the seat, or IFE could be the streaming content from mobile devices provided by the airline. Whatever the manner of delivering the inflight entertainment, it has always been FREE and at no extra cost to the passengers.

    On the other hand, low cost carriers by default do not have IFEs and those LCCs wanting to provide inflight entertainment do so for additional cost to the passenger. As a matter of fact, if a passenger taking an LCC would avail of all the options separately priced by the LCC like meal, baggage, entertainment, etc. it would be as if a passenger had taken a legacy airline like PAL.

    Thus, PAL will be overcharging its passengers if PAL will charge additional cost for the use of inflight entertainment.

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  7. Bashers will always be bashers. FYI PAL has a USB charging port in all A330 and A321 fleet so charging tablets and smartphones is not a problem and PAL ONAir is offered for free, the only thing is charged is renting a tablet if you don't have one.

    And some OFW's especially those who has employers that cannot cover their travel expenses coming home (e.g. dosmestic helpers and contract workers) doesn't care if the airline has IFE as long as the fare is reasonably low so they can have more budget for pasalubongs and other financial needs for their family; and what is important for them is they can come home safe and see their love ones that they misses a lot. Now if you are not like them but you don't have any gadgets to bring in your travel, ride other airlines that has personal IFE's, we are a democratic country and we have a freewill to chose an airline other than PAL that can make your travel more comfortable.


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    1. There are no USB chaging port available for A340's for a 13hour flight from LAX-MNL a month ago. So i'm hoping that they will consider this case during their upcoming upgrade, i hope it would come with some seat holders on all sort of tablets available so it wouldn't be bugging you when they serve the meals and fold back your tablets again...

      But comparing the resolution between an iPad and the IFE installed on the B777, I would rather chose watching on my iPad.

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    2. Nakakaawa naman ang PAL. Wala budget para sa built-in IFE at wala din budget para sa iPad. Ano ba yan PAL, iPad na nga lang na puro naka sale na ngayon hindi nyo pa ma provide legacy airline naman kayo! Baka sa ginagawa nyong ganyan ay maging 1-star na lang kayo!

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  8. PAL ONair is free. Just make sure you have the app before you travel.

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  9. Do we have to pay for the onboard wifi ?

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  10. When I flew with Pal Express A330-300 dammam to manila round trip last may and june this year, their on air ife was free to try for 15mins and then you have to pay for whatever plan you want for the duration of the flight.There were also instances that wifi was unavailable but overall it had stable connection.

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  11. On long haul flights, iPads are for free. I borrowed an iPad onboard PR112/113 and Im on economy class. I wasn't charge of any fee. Maybe middle east flights are because it's operated by PAL Express. But I do hope that they'll incorporte it on all fleet.

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  12. I tried using the OnAir service on my Samsung S4 but it doesn't seem to work. Even installed the app for it and all I get are error messages.

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    1. The onair app is not available on all PAL aircrat yet.

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  13. Congratulations to Philippine Flight Network's website for its relentless campaign about the necessity of Philippine Airlines having proper IFE.

    On a PR A321 flight from Saigon, Vietnam to Manila NAIA in May 2014 I was the only economy passenger to obtain an iPad from the PAL hostess because business class must have had one unoccupied seat. I was the first economy passenger to ask on a close to full flight so I got one.

    On the Melbourne and Sydney routes (7.5 - 8 hours ex or to MNL), the clunky A340s may be marginally better than the A330s that made a brief appearance during the Christmas 2013 Australian school holidays, but they totally lack proper, modern IFE in economy class.

    We've already lost the Boeing 777-300ERs to the USA and Canandian routes, yet Australia is by income the second richest country in the world (although that may change with the end of the mining boom and the drop in the $A versus the $US).

    I agree that seatback IFE is essential.

    When will passengers see the content streaming and renting of iPads available on PR209/210/211/212?

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  14. An airline run by morons, They introduce outdated planes on the London route with no IFE or charging points. Did these morons really think they would away with a 1530 flight time without it...........clearly run by a bunch of kuripots

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    1. Ahahaha! Ang asim mo jan sa comment mo. Why not buy your own a380 pra solo mo. Moron :)

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    2. Etong isang to galit sa mga tumitira sa PAL. Kasambahay ka siguro ng may ari ng PAL ano? Totoo naman mga bobo nagpapatakbo sa PAL.... Hahahahahaaa

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  15. Why would anyone care flying on PAL if you are after IFE. for goodness sake fly on other airlines instead of ranting over here. Let's your wallets do the talking.
    I doubt if most of the people posting here fly often.

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    1. And I doubt if you have flown at all. People here are concerned about PAL and its ability to compete with other airlines. People like you who say "well if you do not like PAL, then why don't you fly another airline?" are not of any help. I do not understand why some people here can pass judgment and assume that people do not fly often, when clearly most people's comments here are based on their experiences. Haaayyy... bobo lang at feeling sya lang ang frequent flyer!

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    2. Bird brain ka daw.... or more like squater brain.... hahahaaa

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    3. What I find most frustrating is that I paid more for a flight which only advantage over airlines such as Emirates, Etihad, Cathay etc is that is is direct, expecting there to be IFE as standard, only for PAL to change the aircraft after I had purchased the ticket and there being no option for me to change carriers.

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  16. Look bird brain any airline that thinks its ok for passengers to indure a flight over 15 hours with no IFE or charging points should be highlighted for their total disregard for their passengers. Stop trying to defend these airlines who are run by a bunch of idiots

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    1. Haha! Mag barko ka na lang. Dami mo reklamo. Eto Barya pea brain. Hahahaha!

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    2. Sa iyo na lang barya mo, kailangan mo yan pambayad sa bangka pag bumabaha sa squa squang area ninyo.... lol

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  17. I want my personal TV in my plane. Sorry na lang pag pinalitan nila ng eroplano na walang personal TV ang Toronto. animator expo kanon

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  18. Sablay talaga PAL. Sa totoo lang, halos masisiraan ka talaga ng bait sa loob ng eroplano lalo pa't more than 10 hours ang flight mo.Anong klaseng "strategy" to ha PAL? Kaya di nakapagtatakang daming foreigner ang ayaw sumakay sa flag carrier natin dahil sa mga kapalpakan ng Mr.Ang na to. Please lang PAL, paki-balik ng IFE monitors sa kada upuan ng eroplano !!! Sayang ng pamasahe namin .

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