Transport Airlines

Delta Just Raised the Stakes in the In-Flight Entertainment Arms Race

Jul 29, 2014 6:36 am

Skift Take

Delta has taken on an ambitious program for passenger experience enhancement. It will interesting to see whether other SkyTeam members will join this initiative and what competitors do to catch up.

— Marisa Garcia

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Delta On-Board In-Flight Entertainment. (PRNewsFoto/Delta Air Lines)


In a move which turns in-flight connectivity monetisation theories on its head, Delta Airlines has announced that it will offer free in-flight entertainment on all Delta and Delta Connection flights over one and a half hours in duration–on all classes of service–through its new Delta Studio product.

The Delta Studio free entertainment service will be available on embedded seat-back in-flight entertainment or on-demand video-streaming on Delta’s Wi-Fi-equipped aircraft.

Delta BusinessElite, First Class, and Economy Comfort passengers will get free, unrestricted access to in-flight entertainment on all international flights worldwide, with limited free content also available to Economy class customers.

Domestic BusinessElite, First Class, and Economy Comfort passengers will have free access which includes live satellite TV channels, music selections and game options as well as premium movie or TV selections on seat back systems or in-flight Wi-Fi starting this August. According to Gogo, which is the service provider for the domestic wireless in-flight entertainment product, “Economy customers will have access to most titles for free.”

Gogo’s wireless in-flight entertainment product will include a variety of television shows and movies streamed to passengers’ own personal electronic devices, using Gogo’s video player app—which must be downloaded before the flight. Premium entertainment content, not covered under the free offering for Economy, will cost $6.00 per movie and $1.00 for each TV episode.

“Delta continues to be driven by customer feedback which has consistently placed the desire to be entertained at the top of the list of ways to improve our customers’ time in the air,” said Tim Mapes, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Delta.

The SkyTeam founding member airline has 140 domestic aircraft currently equipped with embedded in-flight Entertainment systems (IFE). It will be adding embedded IFE to 56 of its 757-200s, 43 of its 737-800s (bringing the total number equipped to 73), and 57 Airbus A319 aircraft, as part of its fleet-wide interiors upgrade program due for completion in 2016. The 100 new Airbus and Boeing aircraft scheduled for delivery to Delta through 2018 will also be equipped with embedded IFE.

Delta is also expanding its international high-bandwith Ku-band in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity across all its wide-body long-haul fleet, due for completion by 2015. This includes Delta’s Boeing 777s, 767s, 747s, Airbus A330 and transoceanic Boeing 757 aircraft—over 150 aircraft in all.

“Our customers want to remain productive in-flight and that does not stop as they fly over U.S. borders,” said Mapes.

When the in-flight connectivity (IFC) program is complete in 2015, Delta will have more than 1,000 aircraft equipped with the service. Domestic in-flight Wi-Fi can be purchased for as little as $1.95 for an in-flight Wi-Fi Mobile Pass (limited to mobile messaging) or full capacity Delta Wi-Fi Passes charged at $18.00 for 24 hours, $49.00 as a monthly subscription, or a Delta Unlimited Annual Wi-Fi Pass for $479.00.

International Wi-Fi service is charged on “introductory pricing options” of one hour passes for laptop users as low as $14.00 and $8.00 for mobile users. An option for connectivity for the duration of the flight starts at $24.95 for laptop users and $14.95 for mobile users.

Since 2010, Delta has invested over $3 billion on passenger experience improvements; including its extensive aircraft interiors renewal program, and these IFE and IFC investments. Delta has spent an additional $100 million to improve technology and facilities at Terminal 4 New York-JFK and Maynard H Jackson Jr International Terminal in Atlanta. The airline has also made improvements to its more than 45 Delta Sky Clubs and installed power outlet poles in gate areas at over 40 airport gate areas.

Last week, former Virgin America CEO Fred Reid called out Delta’s in-flight connectivity work as best-in-class in an interview with Skift.

Delta and the Delta Connection carriers serve 333 destinations in 64 countries on six continents.

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