For many Cathay Dragon and Cathay Pacific passengers, getting to catch up on hit shows and recent films is one of the most enjoyable parts of flying. The full inflight entertainment lineup covers more than 200 movies, 500 TV shows and thousands of audio tracks, and the selection is revised each month.
While the vast majority of the aircraft in Cathay Dragon’s fleet have individual seatback screens for passengers to choose their entertainment, the airline has been rolling out a wireless system on its planes that do not have seatback screens: the Airbus A320 jetliners. The system lets passengers on these planes enjoy a large selection of inflight entertainment on their personal devices, including smartphones, tablets and laptops.
The wireless system brings the A320’s service more closely in line with the rest of the Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon fleets. ‘We wanted to have a consistent experience across both airlines and make sure that no matter how long the flight there was something to entertain people,’ says Simon Cuthbert, Cathay Pacific’s product manager for entertainment and media sales. ‘Usually when a passenger sits down in a seat with no seatback screen they are disappointed, but on Cathay Dragon there is in fact a lot of great content that can be streamed straight to their personal device. This is welcome news to any passenger and we have received some great feedback as we upgrade the fleet.’
Business Class passengers are provided an iPad, which is preloaded with a near-complete selection of the inflight entertainment available on planes with seatback screens. For everyone else, the wireless service gives access to a large portion of the full selection. Passenger seats are also outfitted to accommodate this innovation with electrical outlets for charging and tablet holders for comfortable viewing.
To use the wireless system, you must first download the StudioKA app. Android users can download the app while inflight, while iOS users need to download it before boarding. After this, you are only a few taps away from accessing wireless streaming onboard. An instruction card in seatback pockets gives details on using the system.
The wireless system doesn’t connect to the internet but an onboard server stored with all the entertainment that connects to users’ devices. ‘This is a similar method used on many cruiseliners where Wi-Fi is not available. Content is instead stored on the ships’ servers to provide entertainment at sea,’ says Cuthbert. There are advantages over regular Wi-Fi, as users won’t encounter areas of poor satellite signals while flying. ‘With this solution we can store more content than a passenger’s device could usually handle. The speed between server and personal device is also much faster than satellite Wi-Fi. This means we can provide a high-quality experience to a greater number of passengers,’ he says.
And it’s not just video and audio entertainment. Passengers who connect to the wireless system can also access the flight maps to see how much longer it is until they reach their destination. Preloaded iPads in Business Class include a range of magazines covering fashion, food and much more.
Inflight entertainment is a major priority for most flyers, which drives the airline to constantly improve its system. For the A320 flights, having a wireless option for inflight entertainment bolsters Cathay Dragon’s position as a premium airline. ‘We believe it’s important to have a range of content onboard no matter how long the flight. In doing so we deliver a far better short-haul experience than our competition.’