• Global connectivity provider enhances loyalty program with more options and flexibility

Geneva, Switzerland | May 24, 2016– EBACE (stand D051) – Gogo Inc. (NASDAQ: GOGO), the leading provider of in-flight connectivity and wireless in-flight entertainment solutions to the global aero market, is deepening its commitment to the European business aviation market with expanded programs and new staff announced at this week’s European Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva.

Gogo today unveiled a refined customer loyalty program that makes the benefits of global inflight connectivity more accessible than ever.

Highlights of the new loyalty program include:

  • Shorter Term – from five years to a three-year commitment
  • Transferable Service – in case an equipped aircraft is sold
  • Monthly Payment Plan – No annual up-front payment required

The Gogo loyalty program enables select, existing and former Gogo customers to receive SwiftBroadband equipment packages at no cost when they complete installation at an authorized Gogo dealer and activate a new SwiftBroadband airtime contract with Gogo. It’s an offer worth up to $92,500.

“Gogo has a longstanding reputation for creating the industry’s most generous and creative loyalty programs,” said John Wade, Gogo Business Aviation’s executive vice president and general manager. “We listened to feedback from our customer base and altered our loyalty program to make it even better with more pricing options, a shorter time commitment and transferable service. Connectivity plays such an important role in people’s lives today and we believe the enhancements we’ve made will give business travelers greater access to a fully connected, global inflight experience.”

Inflight connectivity services dramatically increase the productivity and enjoyment of the business aviation travel experience for passengers and flight crews. The services can also increase aircraft resale values and provide a competitive edge in charter and fractional markets. Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband service provides voice and data services with near-global coverage at all altitudes and on the ground.

Installation and certification costs at an authorized Gogo dealer are the responsibility of the customer.

Dave Perry Joins Gogo Staff, Based in London
Gogo continues to expand its presence in Europe and announces the hiring of Dave Perry as United Kingdom sales manager. Perry, based in London, will help customers with their inflight connectivity needs and is responsible for all sales and support activities throughout Europe. He’s well equipped to serve the European market with nearly 20 years of international sales and business development experience in satellite network services and technology firms.

This week, Gogo Business Aviation is displaying its complete range of in-flight connectivity and entertainment solutions at EBACE2016. Business aircraft operators are invited to visit Gogo at stand D051. More information is available on Gogo’s EBACE 2016 landing page and by following @GogoBizAv on Twitter for in-show updates.

  • Smartphone apps set for significant growth, reports SITA survey

Cancun, Mexico | November 11, 2014– Air passengers in Mexico are increasingly using smartphones and mobile technology to enhance their travel experience, according to a new survey from air transport IT specialist, SITA. The 2014 SITA/Air Transport World Passenger Survey reports that 89% of Mexican passengers carry a smartphone with them with they travel—compared to the global average of 81%—and they are looking for ways to use mobile technology throughout their journeys.

The survey, which queried approximately 1,300 passengers across the Americas region, reports that check-in via smartphone apps is poised to nearly double in Mexico over the next two to three years. Today, 31% of passengers use this technology, but 61% say they will use it more in the future.

Use of mobile boarding passes in Mexico is also set to increase significantly with 76% of passengers saying they will use them in the future, compared to 54% today. And 58% of Mexican passengers said they would use smartphones more in the future to buy airline tickets and other travel-related services, compared to a regional average of 48%.

Speaking at the Airports Council International Latin American-Caribbean Annual Assembly in Cancun, Alex Covarrubias, Vice President, Sales, SITA Latin America, said: “SITA’s survey highlights the positive influence that mobile technology is having on Mexican passengers’ travel experiences. While passengers have already begun embracing mobile apps, we expect to see significant growth in these areas in the next two to three years as passengers become more familiar with them and airline and airport apps continue to improve.”

Smartphone apps have already improved the pre-flight experience for around one-third of passengers in Mexico, reports the survey. On average 84% of smartphone users in Mexico have used airline apps and 74% have used airport apps for travel applications such as airport information and bookings. Around 75% of Mexican passengers are using smartphone apps to access real-time flight information, and 71% say they will use them more in the future, compared to an Americas average of 63%.

Smartphone apps are particularly appealing for directions and way finding, with 79% of Mexican passengers surveyed saying they would definitely use these apps in the future. Seventy-one percent said they would also definitely use their smartphones for access to boarding gates, airline lounges and other areas.

When asked about their future “wish list,” passengers in Mexico said their top two priorities for investments are inflight wireless and better real-time flight information. Around 70% of Mexican passengers mentioned inflight wireless, compared to a regional average of 58%, and 59% cited better real-time flight information, compared to the regional average of 55%.

Passengers in Mexico generally showed a strong preference toward self-service technology. Around 70% of passengers said they access websites regularly via a personal computer to view flight information. Around 93% said they had used online check-in, compared to the global average of 48%. Self-service technology at the airport was also a popular option. Thirty-four percent of passengers in Mexico said they had used self-serve check-in kiosks, with 46% saying they would definitely use them in the future. An additional 90% of Mexican passengers said they would definitely use automated boarding gates, which would allow them to board the plane by scanning their own boarding passes. This compares to a regional average of 79%.

The 9th annual SITA-ATW Passenger Survey was conducted across 15 countries worldwide with nearly 6,300 participants. The 15 countries involved in the survey represent 76% of total global passenger traffic. In the Americas region, the survey was conducted across Brazil, Mexico and the United States with approximately 1,300 passengers, 20% of whom were based in Mexico.

  • Carrier Brings A Curated Music Experience Onboard WiFi-enabled Aircraft Beginning Nov. 3

Dallas, Texas | November 3, 2014– Southwest Airlines® (NYSE: LUV) is giving Customers a new reason to pack their headphones! Beginning today, Beats Music is providing a uniquely curated music experience onboard Southwest Airlines WiFi-enabled aircraft.

Customers accessing Beats Music onboard have an opportunity to listen to wide-ranging music programming in pop, rock, country, and other genres to hear fresh new artists and the hottest songs, which are handpicked by Beats Music expert curators. Accessing the service inflight is on the house and includes a library of hundreds of playlists. Not sure what to listen to, but feel like Jet-Setting with your BFF to Pop? The Sentence offers a continuous playlist just for you, customized by your response to four questions about location, activity, surroundings, and musical preference.

“Southwest connects our Customers to what is important in their lives, and in this case, it’s music,” said Kevin Krone, Southwest Airlines Chief Marketing Officer. “We continue to enhance our onboard offerings to remain current as our Customers’ needs evolve, and with the addition of Beats Music on our entertainment portal, we’re doing just that.”

The new entertainment service was introduced today at a live demonstration onboard the official Beats Music-decaled Boeing 737 aircraft. To celebrate, a special playlist was created that will come to life with live concerts from a couple of the artists on select Southwest flights at 35,000 feet! The official Beats Music aircraft is planned to depart from Dallas Love Field to Chicago-Midway on flight 723 with Cobra Starship onboard. Customers on this flight will get a Southwest Airlines VIP backstage pass to the most elevated live concert they’ve ever experienced, with an opportunity to meet and receive

London, UK | October 23, 2014– With a suite of new technologies onboard, the first Virgin Atlantic 787 Dreamliner will take to the skies on 26th October from London Heathrow to Boston. As one of the most efficient aircraft in its class, a key to its performance is its new technology and innovative design.

Dave Bulman, Director of Technology commented: “The 787 is a revolutionary aircraft and new technology allows it to perform more efficiently than any other aircraft of its size. We recognise that technology is an extremely important part of a customer’s journey, whether they are flying for business or pleasure, and this aircraft has given us a fantastic opportunity to look at what we can offer our customers onboard. We have been working really hard with our partners at Boeing and Panasonic to bring connectivity across all our cabins as well as updating our revolutionary touch screen inflight entertainment.”

Onboard connectivity
Virgin Atlantic has teamed up with Panasonic and T-Mobile to offer all customers eXConnect KU Band wifi connectivity onboard its new 787 aircraft. Whether on a laptop, tablet or mobile phone, customers can connect their devices to the wireless onboard internet with just a few clicks and start surfing the web. The cost of the internet is £14.99 for the duration of your flight; however customers can browse destination and aircraft information, Retail Therapy and further Virgin Atlantic services complimentary. With power now available to every seat throughout the 787, customers don’t need to worry about losing battery and can work or play throughout their journey.

Let us entertain you…
The 787 Dreamliner sees Virgin Atlantic role out Vera Touch 2 in-flight entertainment system throughout all cabins, boasting over 400 hours of carefully curated, on demand award-winning entertainment.

The cutting-edge next generation eX3 system from Panasonic features a widescreen smart monitor at all seats with a capacitive touchscreen interface allowing passengers to access content in just a few swipes and clicks. The IFE also boasts a new Skymap from Betria Interactive delivering a captivating 3D experience, infused with interesting and detailed point-of-interest content that can engage the passenger in a rich and informative interactive experience. All seats boast an integrated USB port allowing passengers to power their own devices. New to the Upper Class cabin is a 24” touchscreen monitor over the bar showing looped animations that complement the cabin environment, as well as the option to view the innovative map on a larger screen.

But first let me take a #SkyhighSelfie….
Virgin Atlantic is also introducing the ultimate #SkyhighSelfie, which offers customers the opportunity to update Facebook free of charge from the air. Developed in conjunction with Wavealot, this bespoke application will allow customers to check in on Facebook and share their location with their friends and followers mid-flight. The app will allow one check in per person and customers can purchase the wifi to continue the conversation. Virgin Atlantic is also developing certain #SkyhighSelfie spots in the cabin to offer customers the chance to take the perfect selfie onboard and share their experience. The app will also act as a mile high discussion forum where customers on the flight can chat and spark debate in the air.

Every once in a while we all go to a meeting, see a presentation, or visit an industry show that is a significant event in our industry’s persona… this year it has to be Aircraft Interiors in Hamburg, Germany. Obviously a lot of our readers could not attend and we are aware of that fact. We planned to talk to as many folks as we could to provide some of the experience but the job is becoming so bigger than the IFExpress team… much bigger. From a numbers perspective, there were over 135 vendors (out of 500+) who featured inflight entertainment and/or connectivity. With the cabin interiors market growing at almost 9% per year, it’s no wonder that the IFEC portion of the show saw some 13% increase in space. We fully expect the final total number of show visitors to reach 10,000+ this year as a new best.

One of the first things that struck us was the preponderance of iPads. They were in the products, they were in the hands of the product demonstrators, and they were in the hands of visitors. They were everywhere. Yes, there were tablets too, and phones… but the world of mobile connectivity is here, but of course, you knew that. But it was obvious this year that the vendors and the airlines now know it as well. About the only thing we did not see with an iPad was a mechanical drop down frame for an iPad retractable IFE system. Wait till next year!

And speaking of trends, wireless connectivity is what the inside of the cabin is all about. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, data communication and cell frequencies will flood the cabin with information in forthcoming cabin solutions. This means that there is a huge amount of data about you and your preferences flying in every direction in the plane. We are quite interested in who owns that data, and believe us, everyone has a different answer about who does. We asked there and we will keep this question alive in future issues.

The first day of AIX (before the booth opening on day 2) holds a very interesting Passenger Experience Mini Conference. This meeting consists of a morning general session and splits into 4 afternoon plenary sessions.

Of particular interest in the morning session was Teague’s (Devin Liddell) presentation on “Co-Making”…the process of a brand (an airline in our case) collaborating with a like-minded brand in a different industry. What makes this interesting is the fact that they are not about traditional co-branding and more about breakthrough innovations. Here are some quotes that we found interesting:

  • “Partnerships are our most powerful currency.”
  • “The capacity to partner has a big impact on influencing the passenger.”
  • “We need to go beyond – we must make things together.”
  • “The old philosophy was co-branding = co-marketing. The new philosophy is co-branding = co-making. The concept is more about innovation together.”
  • “An example of a co-making scenario that exists today is JW Marriott and TSA.”

Editor’s Note: The above example places TSA approved and checked luggage in a secure storage at Marriott, thus providing more for Marriott customers.

If you made it to the Break Out Sessions the first day of PAXEX, you got a valuable inside to the connected passenger and the coming PED environment as well. In fact there is good and bad in the approach! First the good: The four Breakout Sessions were one of the best things at AIX and were titled: 1. Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity: A Voyage of Discovery and Opportunity, 2. Hospitality and Service – Making the Onboard Experience Memorable, 3. The Cabin: Getting Smarter about Space and Comfort, 4. Protecting the Brand: Cabin Maintenance. Which one would you go to? And that’s the Bad… one can’t go to them all, but there is an answer. The presentations are available here (they will cost you 50 Euros) and you can find them here: http://www.pexconference.com/Presentations/

And yes, we do have one story about the sessions. In Breakout Session 1, Angela Vargo of Southwest Airlines spoke about their use and focus on the value of gate-to-gate connectivity. After her presentation IFExpress asked if Southwest realized that with satellite connectivity, there was no antenna “shading” by buildings that ground-based connectivity towers face, a fact that was not mentioned in the presentation. “Boy do we,” she said emphatically! We guessed that was a marketing yes!

Next week we will start the booth coverage in detail and by then we hope to have Flicker images online (Just click on the Flicker image at the top right of IFExpress)… that is, if our bag arrives!

Montreal, Canada | July 3, 2013– DTI, the world’s leading provider of in-flight games and entertainment solutions, has signed a multi-year agreement with Air Madagascar to supply the airline with a suite of in-flight entertainment games.

The agreement is part of a broader strategy for Air Madagascar to bolster its service offering on long-haul flights. The airline will be offering passengers flying internationally a cabin-wide selection of strategy and puzzle games from DTI’s extensive catalog.

Finland | March 19, 2013– Finnair’s customers soon will be the first airline passengers in the world to have the opportunity to try the Windows 8-powered HP ElitePad 900 tablets as in-flight entertainment.

Tomorrow, on 20th March, Finnair will begin a two-month trial of the tablets and wireless internet service on board one of its Airbus A330 wide body aircraft. The plane, with the registration OH-LTT, will be used on both scheduled and charter flights.

“We want to enhance our customers’ in-flight comfort,” says Peter Gabrielsson, Vice President Customer Experience, Finnair. “We want to test the functionality of the wireless network on intercontinental flights and how the passengers use the equipment during the flight. We are interested in learning how the use is divided between the fixed in-flight entertainment system and the tablet.”

“Microsoft and Finnair had a unique opportunity to re-imagine what in-flight entertainment means to our customers. Windows 8, with its revolutionary touch-optimized user interface and rapid application development, allowed Microsoft to quickly develop a visually stunning entertainment system and deliver a first-class experience to thousands of Finnair passengers”, says Riitta Eiskonen, Services Lead, Microsoft Finland.

“To offer a unique in-flight entertainment experience to its customers, HP provides Finnair an enterprise-grade ElitePad tablet that combines the great style and user experience consumers demand with the features IT requires,” said Ari Koskinen, Director and General Manager, Printing and Personal Systems, HP Finland. “The HP ElitePad is a powerful and stylish business tablet for an optimal in-flight customer experience.”

The test will take place in Business Class on scheduled flights and in Comfort Class on charter flights. Passengers willing to participate in the test are offered an HP ElitePad tablet, which includes movies, TV shows, music and games. Additionally, the tablet includes wellness-related programs, such as a relaxation app to cope with time difference. Passengers will be asked to participate in a survey, and the information obtained will be used to develop Finnair’s in-flight entertainment service concept.

Finnair’s partners in this test also include Nordkapp, which is responsible for the visual design of the tablet’s user interface. OnAir provides satellite communications and the onboard Wi-Fi service (Internet OnAir) and Spafax the audio and video content.

Montreal, Canada | February 21, 2013– DTI Software, the world’s largest provider of in-flight entertainment games, has signed an exclusive agreement with Big Fish, the leading global marketplace to discover and enjoy casual games, to distribute some of Big Fish’s most popular puzzle and hidden objects games to airlines around the world.

Big Fish has an online catalog of more than 3,000 PC and Mac games and more than 300 unique mobile games, many of which are ranked among the top casual games around the world. This agreement with DTI will provide popular games distributed by Big Fish including Hidden Expedition®: Amazon, Empress of the Deep, Enigmatis: The Ghosts of Maple Creek, Nightmare Adventures: The Witch’s Prison, Adventure Chronicles: The Search for Lost Treasure and Secrets of the Dragon Wheel to in-flight Android-based systems.

“Our strategy is to enhance the passenger in-flight experience by offering airlines a varied entertainment program offering,” commented Lisa Linnenkohl, VP of Licensing at DTI Software. “Partnering with Big Fish adds a new category of games — Hidden Object Games — to DTI’s already extensive catalog. Big Fish is by and large the leading game provider in this segment and the Hidden Object genre of games is one of the most popular in the online and mobile casual gaming market today. We’re therefore very proud to be able to offer a selection of Big Fish games to airlines around the world.”

“Big Fish’s games are a great way to wile away the time when flying. We are excited by the prospect of offering our high-quality entertainment to passengers in the skies. This will extend our brand reach and expose our very popular game titles to new audiences,” added Paul Handelman, VP of Licensing at Big Fish Games.

This weekly issue of IFExpress will be the last for 2012. We hope you have had a good year and we are signing out of 2012 with our newest IFExpress Feature dubbed “TekTopic”. The idea here is to present an IFE solution or service with slightly more emphasis on the technology. Don’t worry, we won’t over-tech your synapses, but rather, try to explain the underlying technology that drives the newsy product. This is exactly what Bill Baltra did with today’s feature and if you have an IFE product or service that could stand some exposure, let us know… we like technology! – Patricia Wiseman | Editor

TekTopic: Sky Definition

Behind the door in our cover shot may be one of the most exciting developments in aircraft IFE video technology to come along in the last few years – and IFExpress has the story for you first.

To set the stage, we were contacted by a guy named Bill Baltra who is a savvy electrical engineer with a passion for watching high quality video. Bill told me, “Home entertainment systems have been changing. No longer are we limited to watching movies via DVD or Blu Ray players with their troublesome HDMI interfaces. We now have “smart” displays that are connected to our home network. The network connection allows us to stream on-demand movies or share video, music and photos with other devices connected to the network. At Sky Definition we have designed high definition network displays that deliver the same benefits of the network architecture to the business jet or VIP aircraft.”

The solution includes a small PC card with a network interface and powerful graphics processing that decodes the various HD video compression formats such as MPEG-4, H.264 and VC-1. “Our single board computer handles video content encoded at the highest bit rates ensuring the highest quality HD viewing experience”, says Bill. Media content can be stored locally in the network display or accessed from Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices, thus providing many hours of HD entertainment. These network displays also provide both analog and digital audio outputs enhancing the passenger experience by providing 5.1 surround sound audio.

Installation options are simplified as network displays interface directly with an aircraft’s network backbone. See: Basic Network Display System Configuration On the plus side you get nice long connections (150 meters) to the network router. There are no headaches of installing an external box with an HDMI output with cable length restrictions to a non-network display.

Rewind to the video technology backgrounder: there is little argument that as the pixel density of rich HD images appeared on the scene the difficulty of sending the images to displays that can exploit this video data has been limited by distance. In fact, sending HDMI video over standard HDMI cabling, especially on aircraft where noise can affect bits in a stream, is limited by the capability of the cable.

In real terms, 15 meters is for all practical purposes a limit of today’s HDMI transmitting sources without powered amplification. As newer, higher quality resolutions like Ultra HD with increased bit rates come along the airplane challenge becomes even tougher. The problem is not solved by cable alone, in fact, it gets even worse.

It is much like a highway that hits its’ congestion limit. For any given number of lanes, one can only make the cars so small. But if the goal is to carry passengers (bits of information) to a destination, why not pack the passengers in buses (compressed data) and arrive at the destination at the same time? That is just what Sky Definition saw as the company began researching the problem a few years back. Realizing that down a few data levels a PC card could easily handle decompressing the packets of information and protocols required for real time HD video playback. Adding the PC card means aircraft video monitors that eventually adapt this type system will cost more, but, and this is important, they will be able to do a lot more.

And speaking of more, in the Sky Definition demonstration, we saw playback of HD content (with 5.1 surround sound) via a wireless connection between a network display and remote media server that we could not believe! Bill controlled the HD playback from an app on his iPhone.

No doubt as the demand for quality outstrips cost applications like large, expensive business jets like the B787 and A380 will demand the best by their owners and this is where Sky Definition’s solution will find its first home. Readers should also note that Bill has held back a lot of tech tricks and experience-based knowledge but IFExpress saw the system in action on 24″ and 46″ monitors and we were knocked out. The network-based video display system is one of the best and most exciting developments in aircraft audio visual entertainment we have seen and if you are in the IFE business, you had better check this one out by contacting Bill and tell him IFExpress sent you.

Contact Bill Baltra at: 425 760 5985 or info@skydefinition.com

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El Segundo, CA | June 27, 2012– IFP has added Jackie Frimer as Vice-President of Worldwide Business Development to its global team. Jackie will be in charge of developing the company’s international sales and business plans to leverage IFP’s strategy of driving the in-flight industry to adapt to the evolving marketplace.

Jackie Frimer has over a decade of experience working in in-flight entertainment. She commenced her IFEC career working at Panasonic Avionics managing the Marketing and Public Relations efforts for the hardware company. She moved into content services at Interact where she brought her Latin American expertise to the company, making them leaders in the region.

Rob Hunter, CEO of IFP, commented: “We are delighted to add Jackie’s expertise to our global sales team. Her wealth of hardware and IFE content knowledge will be instrumental to IFP’s business strategy as we embrace the move towards digital, handheld and connected environments, and push the industry to change the way it markets and delivers content services to today’s airlines.”

Leading in-flight entertainment provider has global distribution rights for the pzizz system which is set to significantly improve the airline passenger experience.

Knutsford, Cheshire, UK. | July 7, 2011 — Leading in-flight entertainment provider, IFE Services, today launched the pzizz sleep and relaxation system to the airline industry.

One of the biggest challenges facing airline passengers is a lack of deep sleep and relaxation during journeys. Already used by nearly 500,000 people worldwide, pzizz is a unique, patented system that is effective at inducing sleep, boosting energy and reducing stress. IFE Services has an agreement with the manufacturers of pzizz to exclusively distribute the system to airlines for inclusion in their in-flight entertainment package.

There are two modules available – ‘pzizz Sleep’ induces a deep sleep of up to 10 hours and is ideal for passengers on long haul flights whilst ‘pzizz Powernap’ delivers a short, deep sleep of between 10 and 90 minutes and is perfect for short-haul flights.

“pzizz is fantastic product that will help airline passengers get the sleep and relaxation they often want during flights,” said Andy McEwan, IFE Services’ Managing Director. “IFE Services has a long history of bringing new and exciting innovations and technologies to benefit the passenger experience and we’re confident pzizz will be another big hit.”

For more information about IFE Services visit: www.ifeservices.com

For more information about pzizz visit: www.pzizz.com

LAKE FOREST, California – 11 March 2010 – Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic), the world leader in state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment and communication (IFEC) systems, was selected as a Mercury Award winner at the International Travel Catering Association (ITCA) 2010 Conference in Cologne, Germany. Panasonic was chosen in the Inspirations category for FlightPath™, a conceptual interactive platform designed to engage passengers and drive the onboard food and beverage experience.

“We are always striving to enhance the onboard experience in creative new ways. FlightPath elevates the passenger dining experience while enhancing revenue opportunities and improving workflow for the cabin crew,” said Paul Margis, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation. “It is gratifying to have ITCA recognize our innovative approach to in-flight catering needs, particularly while FlightPath is still in the development stage.”

FlightPath works with the aircraft’s IFEC system to offer an event-driven, content-rich seatback environment, where the passenger’s meal and beverage options are personalized, and presented within a visual in-flight timeline to the destination.

Within FlightPath, passengers can take advantage of targeted advertising and shopping opportunities, either for in-flight, home, or at-gate delivery. In addition, passengers can engage with crew members, friends, and family using FlightPath’s communication applications, for food pairing recommendations or even a virtual wine tasting event.

The passenger’s interactive experience can be further extended to include tourist information, virtual shopping centers or even booking restaurant reservations all from 40,000 feet. FlightPath seamlessly integrates with applications to provide airlines a complete food, beverage and entertainment solution.

The Mercury Award is the most prestigious award in travel catering worldwide. Established in 1981, the Mercury Award has six categories, including: On Board Service, Food or Beverage, Equipment, Skills Development, Systems and Process Development and Inspiration. ITCA is a global association with more than 700 members, representing caterers as well as suppliers of products and equipment for airline, sea and rail operators.