Talk about “cord cutting”! American Airlines announced that it is the first North American airline to test video streaming over WiFi during flight. Initial tests are being conducted onboard two 767-200 aircraft on transcontinental routes. The system relies on WiFi service which is provided by Aircell, and customers are expected to get a chance to try it out this summer. Wow! This could mean that I would get to choose what I want to watch, using my smartphone or laptop, and not have to sit through yet another showing of “Tin Cup”. (Not that I have anything against that movie. I really like it. There was a time, however, when I was trapped at 30,000 feet on a half-dozen flights where that movie was shown in the cabin. I think I can still recite long stretches of the dialog.)
American is clearly responding to the U.S. consumers’ desire for more control over what they watch and where they watch it. And since American is also rolling out WiFi service on all its domestic aircraft, it will be in a position to provide the video-on-demand service on all flights if it should prove to be a success. The company is also working to provide power outlets at all seats in all its aircraft so that you won’t run out of juice while watching a movie.
There’s no word yet on how much this will cost. If they’re charging to check baggage and won’t give away a piece of fruit and some cookies any more, you can be sure that this will be an additional fee service. But if it means I don’t have to watch Kevin Costner miss another shot, it will be worth it.