Emirates’ ICE (Information, Communication, Entertainment) has been widely regarded as one of the best out there. In fact, Emirates has won World’s Best Inflight Entertainment award for the 14th year in a row at the Skytrax World Airline Awards 2018.
The screens are one of the biggest in the industry (Qatar Airways enhanced economy class may have bigger screens now). And there is a lot of content in a number of languages.
Earlier this year, Emirates had announced changes on its mobile app that lets customers create personalized playlists before their flight. You can sync it to your seats once on board. Post this announcement, this was the first time I was taking an Emirates flight. Of course, I was excited to try it.
Personalize your Entertainment
The process is straightforward. You need to install and app, login and go to ‘My Trips’. If you flight does not show up, you can click on ‘+’ to add the flight details.
Click on the flight and scroll down to ‘ice flight entertainment’
You can now browse thousands of movies, TV shows, music etc. To add one to your playlist, click on the title and ‘Add to Playlist’ sign. To remove, click again.
Once you are in the aircraft, connect to the OnAir Wi-Fi and follow the syncing process so it connects to your seat’s screen.
Big Data, AI and Other Such Stuff
It is quite clear why Emirates would want you to do this. Entertainment and IFE are at the core of Emirates’ strategy. Patrick Brannelly, the airline’s divisional vice president of customer experience, in-flight entertainment and connectivity said in an interview,
“Entertainment is not trivial…some airlines see it as non-core. We have guests on-board that are with us for many hours and we need to make sure they have a fabulous experience, and entertainment is part of that.”
Remember, your airline already has a lot of data about you. If you have filled out advance passenger information (API), your age, nationality, gender etc. are already known days before your flight. This, coupled with your preferences in form of a playlist is a data gold-mine. There are two clear uses I can see (and I am no expert in Big Data and AI).
First, the airline can provide you highly personalized recommendations. Emirates had plans to provide a ‘Netflix-style’ personalized entertainment experience by 2020. This seems to be the first step in this regard.
Secondly, at an aggregate level, Emirates knows which TV Shows / Movies / Music are most popular. This would help in procurement and pricing.
I have grown to become a big fan of personalized entertainment. In fact, in the last 3 years, I would not have watched ‘regular’ TV channels for more than 10 hours combined. While cord-cutting initially started as a cost-cutting exercise, now I am paying more than what I would have for cable. I am sure a lot of readers have similar stories.
This is a good first step from Emirates to reinforce its leadership position.