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Netflix and Spotify in the Sky: Qantas Introduces Innovative InFlight Streaming

Do you like to Netflix? Because we do. Has Spotify taken over as your go-to music platform? Because it has for us.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about our usage of these platforms and apps when either of us are on the go.

Given that not all airlines, especially in the Asia-Pacific region and in the Eurozone offer readily accessible in flight WiFi – or that when they do it’s often far overpriced, we tend to save either ‘offline’ Spotify playlists or download our planned/desired shows for flights. Now this is a more than good option and most times keeps us satisfied through the flight – but sometimes, isn’t it annoying when something suddenly strikes your fancy but a given song or show isn’t on your offline selections? It’s almost a case of so close yet so far.

Well, that need not be the case anymore.

The Scoop:

Starting in a matter of a few weeks in late February this year, Qantas (QF) will introduce a streaming service that has been specially designed for folks wanting to stream either Netflix, Spotify or Foxtel – the Australian equivalent of a Time Warner Cable with a lot of local programming (Home and Away, anyone?).

The airline touts that the new service is ‘up to ten times faster than normal inflight WiFi’ and is made available through the newly introduced high tech internet service Sky Muster. The airline goes on to say:

The satellite service represents a huge upgrade over older technology accessed by most airlines. The service uses idle data capacity, with the signal reaching the aircraft as it flies through the satellite’s 101 spot beams across Australia.

Given the new speeds that will be available to passengers, Netflix, Spotify and Foxtel services will be offered as landing pages and will be free of charge for the duration of the flight – but you will have to register if you are a new user though. If you are an existing user, the new Qantas entertainment system allows you to log in as yourself and voila – all your saved options and browsing history is ready for you to see through your seat back entertainment system.

The service is also available for passengers to access through your own personal devices be it your laptop, phone or tablet if your browsing history is…interesting.

Here’s the full lowdown on what exactly is being touted and what to expect from this new service from Qantas. Keep in mind that all three providers are pre-paid/subscription based, but:

  • Foxtel will offer three days free access to its Foxtel app every time a customer flies, allowing customers to stream live sports, news and TV shows as well as its full range of on-demand content. No sign-up to a subscription is required.
  • Netflix will offer new customers access to the entire Netflix service as part of a 30-day free trial. Existing Netflix members only need to log in to continue watching at no extra charge.
  • Spotify will offer a 30 day free trial of its Premium music service, which has no ads, shuffle play and unlimited skips.

Not bad, ey?

Better yet, the airline says that the new streaming services goes beyond the three entertainment platforms mentioned above:

As well as links to access Netflix, Spotify and Foxtel, this page will feature real-time flight data; destination information; weather; and personalised info linked to your itinerary and Frequent Flyer account.

The services will be available only on WiFi equipped Qantas aircraft and will be on top of the existing WiFi offering QF already has (basically select B737 and A330 models). Keep in mind that for now, due to legal reasons (especially surrounding Foxtel) and logistics, this is only offered on Qantas domestic flights – the airline says they will be upgrading their international fleet in due time as the domestic service is rolled out and the kinks are ironed and the t’s are crossed.

Expect some time around mid-2017 for an expansion to international aircraft and further domestic birds to begin. 

Qantas IFE

Qantas is on the forefront of innovative inflight entertainment and will be offering high speed streaming for Netflix, Spotify and Foxtel users on their domestic flights.

The Takeaway:

Well, there’s nothing but good news here, isn’t there? As it stands, whilst it’s great that Qantas already offers WiFi on most of their longer domestic flights, streaming audio and video isn’t really an option, and understandably so. But with this new service, being able to stream your own personally curated content through two very popular international platforms and Australia’s leading cable network is top work from Qantas. The only other airline that comes close to offering this type of service is JetBlue, and even they are only offering it on their premium coast-to-coast Mint service.

It’s also great to see that while airlines such as United and American are going ‘dark’ on their new aircraft – as in they won’t be offering any form of entertainment but WiFi that’s available to stream content from personal devices – Qantas is doing this on top of what they already have which is a great thing. Choice is king, and all.

Lastly, it’s nice to see that Qantas is reacting and proactively responding to the market and their own internal surveys – apparently the airline did a survey of their most frequent fliers and this option was close to the top of the ‘wish list’ of many passengers. They also monitored the usage of their existing inflight entertainment services and saw that this tended to be what most consumers would find most useful.

And one more thing – Qantas bested arch rival Virgin Australia to this. And in a tech savvy and trendy related thing too. Natch.

Looking forward to trying out this new Qantas service? Wish other airlines would follow suit? 


Featured image credit: Qantas


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