back to article Contactless payments come to in-flight entertainment units

Near field communications (NFC) readers can now be baked into in-flight entertainment devices, making it possible to offer contactless payments in the sky. Panasonic Avionics, a dominant provider of in-flight entertainment units and the back-endery required to make them fly has announced its NFC readers are ready to take off. …

  1. Crazy Operations Guy

    "Some even charge for in-flight entertainment."

    The only airlines I've seen that don't charge for entertainment are the ones too cheap to have it installed...

    1. dotdavid

      Re: "Some even charge for in-flight entertainment."

      I'm honestly surprised that the likes of Ryanair et al haven't spent the money outfitting their aircraft with seatback screens that play adverts constantly at you until you pay to turn them off.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: "Some even charge for in-flight entertainment."

      Due to risk of interference with the cockpit instruments, all electronic devices must be switched off during all phases of the flight.

      Due to flammability, no books, newspapers or magazines are allowed in the cabin.

      For a fee the cabin crew can supply airline approved reading material or in-flight entertainment.

      Reminds me of the captive market for outdoor concerts where they force people on the way in to discard all their bottles including water, then the concessions inside sell bottled water for a hugely inflated price (and remove the caps before they hand them over) and to stay H&S legal they have a dirty old bowser with one tap and a 60 minute queue. On the hottest summer days.

      A free market honestly is a good thing, but for the humans involved, because they will take the piss.

  2. Crazy Operations Guy

    "airlines also find ways to charge passengers for more services, more often."

    I bet RyanAir is looking into using it on the doors for the lavs...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "airlines also find ways to charge passengers for more services, more often."

      Can't wait for the flight attendants to tell people they need a newer phone that supports Apple Pay or Android Pay in order to take a piss.

      "Sorry, we don't support Windows Phone, you'll have to hold it until we land in five hours".

      "Enabling the reclining feature of your seat costs $2/hour, and disabling the reclining feature of the seat in front of you costs $5/hour".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "airlines also find ways to charge passengers for more services, more often."

        "Sorry, we don't support Windows Phone, you'll have to hold it until we land in five hours".

        Bring a plastic water bottle. Use it when empty. Solves that #1 problem.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: "airlines also find ways to charge passengers for more services, more often."

          It could solve the #2 problem also, if it has a wide opening like a Gatorade bottle and you are careful.

          1. Crazy Operations Guy

            Re: "airlines also find ways to charge passengers for more services, more often."

            Saw someone on my flight use the air sickness bag for that. It was a waterproof plastic bag after all. We where in very bad turbulence and no one was allowed to get up out of their seats

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'll just torrent my films on the in-flight wi-fi.

    1. Yugguy

      for which you will have to pay...

  4. Rafael 1


    I'll just have to bring my own entertainment for the long flights. Books, a tablet loaded with movies. Playing cards. A boombox for when I'm tired of the movies. A frisbee. I wonder if I can get some people up to a little friendly in-flight soccer game. Maybe they'll allow us to bring hockey sticks and pucks?

    1. Chairo

      Re: Welp...

      How about a game of in flight Gotcha? On the other hand the flight attendants do that already when they hand out the drinks, I suppose.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Welp...

        You could play plane tennis.

        On the locker above your head write "Plane Tennis! Look the other side"

        On the opposite side of the plane write "Look the other side"

        Sit back and enjoy.

    2. ravenviz Silver badge

      Re: Welp...

      I remember an IFE-less flight from London to Harare in 1981 where passengers actually played cards over the seat backs - total strangers. Different days.

  5. Oengus


    You can do without (or take your own) in-flight food/drink and in-flight entertainment. I am waiting for the airlines to start charging for in-flight toilets, try doing without them for a long haul flight... maybe the first visit will be free but subsequent visits will cost...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gotcha

      I'd just piss in a bottle, and shart in an inflight magazine.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Gotcha

        Even better, they'd have to pay you for improving the magazine.

    2. Chairo

      Re: Gotcha

      in-flight toilets? You mean those paper bags they put in the seat pockets? :P

  6. Andrew Taylor 1

    And if these devices are installed, will a screen pop up stating "there are X minutes left in this flight and this film is Y minutes long plus adverts" or will they just rip you off. I look forward to the 1st arrest because someone paid for a film 5 mils before landing & won't disembark until the film ends.

  7. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Swipe your membership card to activate free in-flight WiFi

    Yes, I can see that happening. Of course airlines will set up all this NFC stuff with WiFi logins and so on just to let you have what you've probably already got. Makes perfect sense.

  8. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Great, even more "incentive" for arsehole airlines to foist (noisy) adverts on you from point blank range. Want to turn this shitting, annoying screen off sir? Just pay $.

    I've suffered on a few of these flights and despite repeated thumps, yanks and many, many button presses the bloody things just keep on going unless you wave your credit card at them. Packing in-flight material around them to obscure the screen is frowned upon... I must remember to bring a sheet of cardboard and tape next time (ideally, plastic and superglue but those are harder to get through and even more frowned upon).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Which airlines do that? I must be spoiled because the worst I get is being forced to watch the charity appeal on every bloody flight. I always leave my change so I should be able to opt out of the ads and get to watch the bloody film whose ending is now going to be cut off, you bastards.

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Some ghastly internal US flights. Probably delta, can never remember as the seats are sold on from one carrier to the next.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I'll avoid those then. Usually only fly American for US internal flights. They're poor, but not that poor.

  9. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    in-flight entertainment

    Hmm. I've heard about this weird new revolutionary portable thingy called Basic Onboard Offprint Kompendium - allegedly it doesn't need WiFi or even batteries. Can't find the link right now, sorry...

  10. Velv

    "in the event of the aircraft losing cabin pressure Oxygen masks are available from the ceiling by presenting your contactless card to the panel above your head"

  11. David Paul Morgan

    how about...

    getting the programming supplied by Google, Netflix or Amazon and being able to use your existing account (commission to go to the airline).

    HOWEVER, I'd expect the quality to be seriously better than the crap screens available atm.

    Ideal use for in-flight VR headsets?

    (however, on the budget airlines: pay-and-display seating. coin-operated oxygen masks [Oh, you'd like to /breathe/ during the flight, sir?] )

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: how about...

      Sure. And premium account holders will get the ad-free version.

  12. Tikimon
    Thumb Up

    SOME still offer free entertainment

    I flew from Atlanta to Malaysia last year. We had the usual horrible Delta cattle cars to New York and back from Los Angeles. HOWEVER...

    We flew China Southern for the long haul. They did everything possible to make 14 hours in a flying tube a pleasant experience. Real food, which was actually very good. Entertainment? Totally free. It took me over 15 minutes just to browse through all the offerings in the system. TV shows, current films, art films, in various languages with your choice of subtitles. Incredible variety of music. All this on new Airbus planes with tons of legroom. On Delta my knees hit the seat ahead. on China Southern, I had eight inches of freedom, and I'm six feet tall.

    Air Asia had roomy planes as well, but they were short hauls not needing entertaining.

  13. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    If we were meant to fly

    Oh. Never mind.

  14. Triggerfish

    Food & Drink

    Most of my recent flights have been long haul trips so food and drink has been inc, but just out of curiousity I had a look BA you can actually book a gourmet meal for your flight for extra cost. I'm assuming a £15 airline breakfast is just going to taste of dissapointment though, not sure how great Loch Fyne Salmon might taste several hours of being kept warm into your flight either.

    Anyway they can lose the screens if they want just keep supplying free wine.

    TBH last flight was 16hrs and while the food was adequate, after having all of your meals on the plane it was a pleasure to drop my kit off and eat something proper.

    1. Lee D

      Re: Food & Drink

      The problem with eating on a plane is that it will never taste the same.

      The pressure is different, the air is recycled, there are many more people in much more proximity to you, your ears will pop, your throat is drier, the lighting is imperfect, and so on. You could eat a restaurant-fresh Gordon Ramsey special up there and it wouldn't taste the same, and would quite likely smell overwhelmingly offensive to all those around you eating something different.

      Hence, it's just much easier to pack a cheap sandwich in hand-luggage and buy a drink past security and have done with it.

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: Food & Drink

        Yep, it's rarely going to taste great. I tend to break up long flights now by booking ones where I have an hour or two off the plane, give's me a chance to stretch the legs out from cattle class, and grab a McDonalds or simialr (yeah I know this ain't great food either I rarely eat it though so if anything it's like a guilty treat).

  15. MrT

    What's the range on NFC contacts...?

    My wallet's going in the overhead storage - I'm not paying for Nobby's Nuts (or whatever the bloke sat next to me is called).

    Although, I can see the announcement now: "RyanAir to introduce contactless payment locks on the overhead storage facilities" - takes a quid every time the locker is opened.

  16. Z80

    If airlines are going to upgrades their IFE kit with this contactless gubbins I hope they take the opportunity to fit screens where the colours don't invert if viewed >5 degrees from the optimum and send the picture to them using something which looks like a digital signal rather than an analogue terrestrial broadcast picked up by a coat-hanger aerial.

    I shouldn't complain really...

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