Inflight editor Alexander Preston summarises the latest happenings across IFEC and cabin technology.

CES in Las Vegas has established itself as the world’s gathering place for all those who thrive on the business of consumer technologies. For 50 years it’s served as the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies, and in recent years, has become a stage for the aviation industry.

APEX CEO Dr Joe Leader represented the organisation on a panel on smart tourism and Ed Bastion, CEO of Delta Air Lines, delivered the opening keynote for CES, the first time an airline has ever done this.

But why an airline? As Bastion noted, “the gift of flight is the ultimate in innovation.”

During the keynote, and later speaking to CNBC’s Wilfred Frost, Bastian reaffirmed Delta’s commitment to providing free Wi-Fi, of which he says, “We’re not quite there yet, but we’re on the path to getting there.” The “there” for Bastian is the next two years. “And then when we get there, we have to make it the same price on the ground, which is generally free.” Delta has a dedicated team working on this currently.

Bastian also reiterated the carrier’s commitment to seatback screens and the expansion of its IFE library, including supporting ReFrame, the gender-parity coalition, with a dedicated channel of female-centred films and TV programmes.

For Delta, the seatback screen will become a passenger’s onboard hub, through which you can engage with others travelling to the same event, order meals, manage entertainment and make “sure your flight is under your control”.

The Delta Flight Products team, Bastian revealed, is making progress on the Bluetooth challenge: allowing passengers to pair their Bluetooth headphones with the IFE system.

With so much on display at CES regarding simplifying travel today and fundamentally changing travel in the future, it will be an interesting year to see what the promised technology holds for the travel and tourism industry.

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