I can appreciate the fact that airlines need to be competitive for our business. Some airlines like United and American have announced within the last year that they plan on moving back toward seat-back entertainment systems. The technology has actually improved since our last posting as these systems are lighter overall for the airlines, but the real reason is because across over 8000 flights and over 2Mil passengers in the USA every day, having WiFi isn’t competitive. Everyone has WiFi.
JetBlue was one of the first USA airlines to offer seat-back DirectTV at no cost for passengers and to some extent this helped them launch as a competitive brand in a very difficult market. Is this service enough to entice you to fly with JetBlue? If you are a frequent traveler, probably not.
Loyalty comes with rewards.
If you’re a business traveler or someone who travels often in the US, you know that the bigger airlines like United, Delta and American offer perks that keep you coming back. From private lounges, to points programs that really add value to your membership. As an example, I used points just a few years ago to buy an Apple Macbook Pro laptop, at zero cost to me. I’ve also used points to upgrade seating on international flights, and bundled with hotel partnership points, had an European vacation’s accommodations paid for. I am all in when it comes to brand loyalty for rewards that make my travel, and my stay more affordable and enjoyable.
In a poll of frequent travelers, we’ve learned that the biggest frustration point is in the terminals themselves and less with the airlines. The number one peeve, 120 passengers hogging up the walkways just to be in line for the last group to board. Southwest actually makes this worse because they numerically board, so everyone needs to line up. The big airlines try to convince passengers to wait, but queuing is in our nature as well as competition to be first even if we have a seat assignment. What would really solve this problem is if airlines and airports would finally solve the baggage problem. More and more people won't check bags because of a bag fee, and most airports are slow at delivering bags back to the passengers who just want to get out of the airport, get away from the crowds and get on with their day. Now, I have no idea how to solve this problem. I can tell you that when someone figures it out, that will be supreme. To add a gripe, why would I pay a bag fee when my experience is still horrible?
Okay, let’s get back on track.
Seat-back entertainment is nice, and even pairing your bluetooth headphones with it is super clever, until it isn’t. I cannot tell you how many flights I’ve been on where movies were offered, and I’ve seen them all or none of them were of any interest to me. How about when every exciting part of the movie is interrupted by an announcement or airline self promotional commercial. Worse yet, you plan on it and either the system is broken (or at least yours is) or the flight doesn’t have it. Again, with over 8000 daily flights, your chances of being on a flight with entertainment is good, but not assured.
What is assured is your phone, your Netflix downloads and your VuWing stowed in your carry-on that you forgot was there until you needed it. I rely on myself when I travel. I plan ahead and download a few movies or episodes of whatever I’m watching from Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, or even from my DVR at home. When I travel with kids, I also put their content on the phone so I know and approve of whatever they’re watching. This also means that no matter where I am, eating at the airport cafe, waiting to board from the terminal, or taking my flight - I always have my entertainment with me. Now I just have it hands free, thanks to VuWing.