Monday 3 June 2013

The modern app enabled traveller

On a recent Ethiopian Airlines flights to the Middle East I realised just how much the world of Smartphones,IPads and apps have changed the way we travel.

On my first flight ever about 15 years ago there was very little need for in flight entertainment as I stared out fascinated at the shimmering African rivers and coastlines set ablaze by the early morning African sun, now with over a hundred short and long haul flights under my belt and Google Earth providing more than enough overview of our amazing planet (and some places I'll never see; hello Antarctica!) flying has simply become a means to traverse from one business meeting and conference to the next.

On board televisions,games and magazines of course are still indispensable for many (I'm sure the family next to me of the flight appreciated the free colouring books and board games that kept their children mildly entertained), but those of us on the forefront of technology have moved beyond any little sops that the airlines can throw at us. While I appreciated the offer of free Time magazines and newspapers for example, I was more than happy with the multitude of magazines that I have access to with my 10 dollar monthly ReadR subscription.

As for movies, long haul flights would be intolerable without a movie for many, but I still would rather appreciate my own selection travelling with me on my IPad. And that's of course not even mentioning games and apps, most of which aren't even considered by an airline. And why would they be if most modern travellers come pre-armed with their own little tech arsenal: For myself the IPad is of course de rigeur, the Xperia Z smartphone makes a handy backup and doubles as an MP3 player and finally just for its small size, e-ink friendly on the eye screen and self lit back panel is the Amazon Paperwhite.

To be honest whilst I was on this flight and reminiscing about the genesis of my air travels I started to think not so much about what the airline was providing but little changes that could be made to make flying cheaper for the companies and more modern for us.
A tiny but niggling point is the need to turn off all electronic equipment prior to take off and landing. I'm certainly a rule breaker on this point but I can quite happily say that my Illicit prelanding Kindle reading has never caused an air traffic accident and Id be surprised if anyone can relate a real story about their IPad causing a plane to crash!

Definitive legislation which needs looking at ,but other things to consider that we could dispense with is the airlines choice of entertainment, we'd prefer rather ways that allow us to maximise our use of our own gadgets, in flight charging should be an expected feature of every long haul flight( at least until Mountain View and friends can sort out lengthier battery times for our electronic playthings) also what about Wi-Fi via satellite or some other system, if you're a connected part of the tech world it's agony being out of ten loop for half a day, and never mind the business impact!
So Ethiopian Airlines, next time we meet are you going to be progressive enough to make those changes?

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