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Trends, Tips & Best Practices for Airlines in 2018

By Laurent Safar, CEO of ADAPTIVE

2017 was an important year in the aviation industry, as it brought about a turning point for the onboard passenger experience, especially in terms of inflight entertainment (IFE) offerings; however, we believe that 2018 will prove to be a groundbreaking year.

Before examining our predictions for 2018, let’s examine what made 2017 a noteworthy one for the aviation industry.

Advancements in mobile technology have made cell phones (and other mobile devices) much more accessible to consumers worldwide and adoption rates are higher than ever; in fact, SITA’s Passenger IT Trends Survey showed that 81% of passengers traveled with a smartphone, 43% of passengers carry a laptop and 43% carry a tablet inflight – and an additional 18% of passengers carry all three onboard. That’s a lot of devices!

Just like with every other consumer-facing industry, the ubiquity of mobile devices has effected a great deal of change on businesses’ operations and increased consumer demand for the mobilization of many (previously) offline services. The airline industry is no exception. Today’s passengers - especially the always-connected Millennial generation - expect their inflight entertainment experience to be seamless and easy-to-use across all of their mobile devices – a trend that will only become more prevalent in the coming years.

As such, passengers’ inflight experience became increasingly mobile in 2017, when two of the top three airlines in the world (Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways, which are known for having some of the world’s most demanding requirements for passenger experience) implemented mobile IFE solutions across their fleets. (Wondering what mobile IFE is and how it compares to the more traditional IFE offerings? Check out my recent article, “The State of Inflight Entertainment: Past, Present and Future”, for a complete run-down.)

You may remember the news that, in 2017, American Airlines ordered new Boeing 737 Max aircraft without seatback IFE installed, which is a significant departure from the standard IFE model of the past. Sensing a trend yet?

In 2017, another important evolution (in terms of passenger experience offerings) happened in the duty-free world: United Airlines eliminated their inflight duty free service, the third of the three major airlines in the US (after Delta Air Lines and American Airlines) to eliminate this service.

Finally, even aircraft manufacturers got onboard (pun totally intended!) with the new IFE offerings; at the 2017 International Paris Air Show, ATR demonstrated a prototype IFE solution and, shortly after, announced a new built-in wireless IFE server. The embedded IFE box is now being offered as an optional feature on all new ATRs, or a retrofit option, signaling a true evolution in the IFE business model and further decreasing the barrier-to-entry for wireless and mobile IFE solutions.

As you can see, 2017 has been a banner year for technology, innovation and the mobilization of the IFE space; so, what will 2018 bring for the aviation industry?

Due to the new IFE offerings which reached peak popularity in 2017, traditional IFE providers are now realizing the necessity for increased speed and agility in their solutions, and so we anticipate seeing even more new developments in the IFE space in 2018.

That’s not to say that traditional IFE offerings will go extinct in 2018 or even after; in fact, I’d argue the opposite. Let’s look at another aviation industry example: jet engines did not eliminate the use of turboprop engines when they were introduced; instead, airlines realized where turboprops were best used and adapted their fleet accordingly. The same applies for the traditional, seatback IFE solutions; while airlines are considering new, more cost-effective options for specific use-cases, the seatback IFE solution will always be a valuable perk to premium passengers and those flying on long-haul routes.

In 2018, the second screen approach will also become much more popular; as such, we will see more airlines offering both a seatback system PLUS a wireless or mobile IFE solution, to enable passengers to enjoy more than one type of entertainment simultaneously (i.e. enjoying digital press while watching a movie).

In 2018, mobile IFE will offer an incredible opportunity for airlines to maximize passengers’ entertainment experience, whether used as a stand-alone solution or in a second screen approach; unlike seatback or wireless IFE solutions, mobile IFE makes it possible for passengers to enjoy their IFE content throughout their entire journey, from the airport lounge and even in their hotel room, after landing in their destination. Anyone who has started a movie inflight but missed the thrilling ending (because the aircraft was landing) can appreciate how truly revolutionary this will be for passengers.

Mobile IFE’s benefits don’t end there. Unlike seatback and wireless IFE, mobile IFE solutions enable the collection of personal data and usage data on each passenger, enabling the offering of more personalized services and the creation of new ancillary revenue streams. As such, we will see an increase in mobile IFE revenue streams in 2018, which we anticipate becoming the norm, industry-wide, in the near future.

Finally, mobile IFE enables airlines to offer digital copies of daily newspapers and magazines on passengers’ own mobile devices, which makes it more comfortable for the consumer to enjoy, while drastically cutting the aircraft’s weight and the related airline’s costs in fuel, logistics and cleaning.

Overall, 2018 will be the year when airlines are able to reduce operational costs, create new business opportunities and ancillary revenue streams (which we will see increase both this year and exponentially over time) and significantly improve their passengers’ inflight experience, all because of these advancements in technology – especially in the ever-evolving IFE industry.

So, my final question to you is this:

will your airline give your passengers what they are looking for in 2018?

To learn more about the benefits of mobile IFE solutions – and how they can be integrated as a complementary solution to seatback or wireless IFE systems, please visit ADAPTIVE online at

Alternatively, you can visit our booth or attend our presentations at these upcoming industry conferences:

If you are attending the Inflight Middle East conference, taking place on January 23-24, 2018 in Dubai, please attend the workshop called “IFE Retrofitting,” a panel presentation featuring ADAPTIVE COO David Fairand, on January 24, 2018 at 11:00am.

If you are attending the Aviation Festival Asia conference, taking place on February 27-28, 2018 in Singapore, please visit us at Booth C08 and attend our on-floor seminar called “Switching to IFE on Mobile & to Digital Press,” which will be presented by ADAPTIVE CEO Laurent Safar on February 27, 2018 at 2:00pm.


ADAPTIVE provides global airlines with a sophisticated mobile inflight entertainment (IFE) solution called ACES, which delivers curated content in multiple languages, encompassing diverse, globally-relevant media, along the entire customer journey - before, during and after the flight. ACES was designed to function either as a standalone IFE solution or a complement to a seatback or wireless IFE solution, for all types and sizes of airlines and for all types of routes (including short and medium haul, as well as regional routes). The solution offers airline passengers maximum flexibility and a large library of content (including digital media, such as newspapers and magazines), all of which can be viewed on the passenger’s own mobile device or on devices provided by the airline via an app or web portal. The solution can also be used to provide entertainment to guests in airport lounges or by other transportation companies looking for a flexible, cost-effective entertainment solution for their passengers.

Current airline clients include Singapore Airlines, SAS, Qatar Airways, TAP Portugal, among others. ADAPTIVE’s mobile IFE technology is also currently used in airport lounges across Europe and by other transportation providers around the world. Headquartered in Toulouse, France, more information can be found at or by email at

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