The best things in life are free. Well, not always. Sometimes they will cost you anywhere between 0.99¢ to $3.99. I recently had the opportunity to test out American Airlines new in-flight entertainment system (called Entertainment on Demand) on a flight from New York to Los Angeles and this was a good opportunity for me to see if my money would be well spent.
Before boarding the plane I had to make sure that all of my electronics were fully charged, just in case the movie options were not to my liking. I had my mp3 player, my tablet, laptop, and if all of those options became boring on my 6 hour flight, I would simply resort to my good’ole fashioned book. I had not seen any advertisements on the new In-flight Entertainment System in the terminal, so was keeping a lookout for the first glimpse of what was to come.
Before take-off, I sifted through the front seat pocket and found a pamphlet with information highlighting GoGo’s services that include Wi-Fi and the In-Flight Entertainment Service. The information on the pamphlet was simple and clear but still left me wanting to see it in action. As we prepared to take off the emergency instruction video played and shortly after a 2 minute commercial on the GoGo IFE was played as well. It also let the passengers know that it was simple and easy to navigate. It made me think that even my 8 year old could sign-up and choose her movies.
Once we were at the appropriate altitude that allows for electronics use and after about 45 minutes of some technical issues with my personal laptop, I was able to connect to the GoGo website and begin my entertainment adventure. I have to say that navigating the IFE was as easy as 1-2-3 (okay there is a 4th step, but it is sitting back and enjoying your movie). You go to the website, sign-up and add your credit card information, select a movie/tv show, and watch.
Movie selections are currently limited to 18 movies with selections in most genres (i.e. comedy, action, drama, etc.). The cost of a movie is $3.99, which is comparable to what you would get at Block Buster or your local movie rental store. Movies included Due Date, Arthur, Jane Eyre, The Adjustment Bureau, The Eagle and the Kingdom. Each movie also provided a short description and the movie rating. Dad mode kicked in and I was interested in knowing the options for kids.
There are currently only two selections, The Green Lantern animated and Nanny McPhee. I asked Jason Cohen, who works for GoGo was on the flight, about this and was told that because this is currently the test phase, the selections are limited and by November 1st, 2012 the selections of movies and TV Shows will be increased to 200. Of which 18 will be in the children’s genre.
The TV show selection was the most limited, only offering 30 Rock and Royal Pains, with only 10 episodes of each. The cost of renting an episode is 99¢, and this is the same as what you would find on iTunes for a TV show rental. Browsing these selections are made easy and my favorite was the browse by length of movie or TV Show option (i.e. 30 minutes, 1 hour, 1-2 hours or over 2 hours). I opted for a 30 minute TV show (30 Rock) to begin with because I assumed that the buffering would be terrible and streaming would be choppy. This was not the case at all. The video quality was crisp and clear and the streaming was flawless with no buffering stops. I was truly surprised.
I thought to myself, I’ll try and navigate the web and watch the movie at the same time and I’m sure it will cause a buffering issue. Did it, and again, was not the case. I was able to watch the TV show, navigate the web, and check my email at the same time. I truly enjoyed having all of the options and not cause an issue with the streaming the tv show.
I was lucky enough to have Jason on board to help me and answer any questions, but if you don’t have a Jason on your flight, no worries, GoGo also has live help via chat. I took the opportunity to chat with Seth just to test out the service option. I asked Seth a few general questions but one of the most important ones that I could think of that other users would ask is, ’œWhat if I don’t finish watching the movie on my flight?’ Seth let me know that I would be able to go back into the same webpage and continue watching the same movie at a later time (maybe the connecting flight if wi-fi is available) as long as it was from the same laptop I was using the first time and within 24 hours of purchase for movies, and 10 days for tv shows.
American has rolled out this new service on 15 of their Boeing 767-200 aircraft, primarily serving the New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco routes. American is hoping to roll out this feature on other GoGo equipped aircraft starting later this year. One downside of featuring this on the 767 is they only have power outlets in Business and select economy seats found near the front of the aircraft. I was sitting in the rear and if I would have been watching movies non-stop, my laptop would have ran out of juice before arriving at LAX. American is in process of installing additional powerports across their fleet.
Although the movie and TV show selection is currently limited, Jason explained that GoGo will be adding up to 200 movies soon and they will be rotated out every month. He also explained that that number would possibly go up depending on the demand from customers. I know some people might also think, ’œFor $3.99, why don’t I just rent a DVD at Redbox and return it at my destination?’ Well, that sounds great, but there a few things to consider: What if there are no Redboxes at your destination? And will the time and hassle it takes to find the redbox and return it be worth it? I would not want to go through the hassle and really a few bucks to make my flight go by quicker is always worth it.
American and GoGo are not willing to talk about how many passengers are currently using the new Entertainment on Demand, but they obviously feel this will be a successful venture with looking to add it to other aircraft. I hope to get the opportunity to use this feature again soon. Thanks American and GoGo for letting me and AirlineReporter.com try out your new service. Cheers!