Japanese LCC Peach lets passengers download free IFE content at the airport

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Airlines around the world are responding to the explosion in passenger use of smartphones, notebooks, tablets and e-readers by introducing onboard Wi-Fi and/or wireless inflight entertainment systems. The result is the emergence of an alternative eco-system to today’s traditional seatback-based IFE systems, which sees tech-savvy passengers bring their own digital devices – or airlines providing them with tablets.

However, the idea behind new IFE offerings such as wireless IFE remains the same.

That is passengers are able to access entertainment content only when up in the air (although passengers who purchased movies and TV shows through wireless IFE providers such as Gogo Connect and Lufthansa’s BoardConnect can continue to view the content when they have landed – for 24 (movies) and 72 hours (TV shows) respectively.

Peach and Airport downloads

Airport News Japan now reports that Japanese low-cost carrier Peach, a joint venture between All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Hong Kong-based First Eastern Investment Group, has come up with another innovative twist on in-flight entertainment.

With support from Osaka’s Kansai International Airport, Peach passengers will soon be able to download movies, TV shows, music, magazines, games or other content to their personal devices through the airport terminal’s Wi-Fi network, which they can enjoy without limitation while in the airport or on their flight.

The service is called ‘high!’ entertainment and is available on domestic flights departing from Kansai Airport’s Terminal 2, which has been specially build to accommodate low-cost carriers.

There will be around 30 titles available during the initial trial period and the new service will be fully up and running in June, when it will offer over 1,000 titles comprising free and pay-to-download content. To access the ‘high!” inflight entertainment content, passengers have to download an Apple iOS or Google Android app (pending for approval at the moment).

Compatibility with Windows 8 is planned for a later date.

Peach started operations in March 2012 and currently operates 22 daily flights with seven A320 aircraft to eight destinations (5 domestic, plus Seoul, Taipei and Hong Kong).

Air France HOP!

Peach is not the first airline to offer passengers the option to download content to their devices before they board.

Passengers on Air France’s new regional carrier HOP!, which will start operations on March 31, will be able to download, on the day of their trip, the digital version of their usual daily newspaper, as well as the local edition of their destination or another city of their choice.

60 regional daily newspapers, a total of 420 different editions, will be available before, during and after their flight, regardless of their departure airport, on all types of digital tablet.

Passengers who are travelling on more expensive ‘Maxi Flex’ tickets can use the service free of charge, while those with cheaper tickets will have to pay a fee.

Furthermore, at boarding, a selection of local newspapers will still be available in print for all passengers.

All Nippon Airways

On a related note, Peach’s parent company ANA has just began offering digital content to passengers in its lounges at 14 airports across Japan.

Passengers in each of ANA’s domestic airport lounges can connect their computer, smartphone, tablet or other device to access digital content primarily consisting of magazines and news.

Airport News Japan reports there are 58 types of content ranging from magazines to comics, information on Japanese culture and inside info from ANA cabin crews.

Most of the content can only be viewed inside the ANA lounge but select titles can be viewed outside the lounge as well.