Airline in-seat technology is catching up to daily digital life

There was a time that the most sophisticated piece of technology around your airline seat was the aircraft itself. As we become inseparable from our digital devices and the daily tasks we rely on them for, airlines are finally catching up. And you thought eliminating on-board cash was a big deal. 

British Airways parent company IAG is making its low-cost airline Level pretty high tech when it comes to passenger convenience – at least electronic convenience. The airline will feature a way to connect mobile devices to seat back screens to order a variety of meals and services. From Wi-Fi to snacks and movies, purchases can be made on the screen and completed using a connected mobile phone. Not even a credit card would need to be swiped. IAG is looking to expand this offering to its other airline brands in the future which include British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling. 

The evolution around the airline seat continues. Power ports, charging slots, large screens and other forms of interactivity have all found their way to the space behind each seat over the years. It wasn't too long ago that airlines began ditching cash in favor of electronic payments for purchases inside the cabin and some passengers wondered if this would make things more inconvenient. But the contrary seems to be the case. Many airlines accept debit and credit card payments using hand-held devices making that rush to find change for the passenger in 12B a non-issue. With the introduction of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, a wireless short-range connectivity protocol, carrying a physical credit card might go the way of carrying cash. NFC allows a smartphone user to simply tap or hold their device near a receiver to process a payment. And now this technology has literally taken off. 

For passengers flying with Level, a paired (connected) smartphone will interact with the seat back technology to make purchases and other interactions possible. Level claims to be the airline for the digitally connected traveler, targeting millennial flyers who are not only tech savvy but also budget conscious. The seamless connectivity also opens up more ways for airlines to market their own offerings as well as those of third parties looking to connect with a captive audience. Maybe that shopping magazine in your seat back pocket never really did go away.