Taking the boring out of interactive in-flight maps

The latest interactive in-flight maps promise to combat passenger boredom and offer new revenue streams to cash-strapped airlines.

Restless passengers cannot get enough of in-flight moving maps, with live-updated ETAs and trip updates feeding the world-weary traveler’s insatiable urge to fight the tediousness of in-flight boredom.

Back in the 80s and 90s, passengers were largely content staring at a heavily pixelated screen showing a simulation of a plane slowly inching its way across a static digital map. Those same maps have evolved into higher resolutions, though the experience is basically the same. The next generation of in-flight maps are set to become serious cash-cows for airlines, according to recent reports in The Wall Street Journal and The Times.

Fly the plane you’re in!

Consumer demand for entertainment is driving the manufacturers of the world’s most popular in-flight maps to seriously up their game. Today’s hyper-connected in-flight maps provide more location information, interactive 3D map details and gaming features (such as Live Pilot, giving passengers the option to pretend to fly the actual plane they're currently in!). 

Digital map producers FlightPath3D claim that nearly two-thirds of passengers view in-flight maps at some point during in a flight. Translation: maps are more popular than Hollywood blockbusters amongst long-haul travelers.

With companies such as HERE providing an increasingly detailed amount of rich, real-time, HD location data such as 3D airspace maps for drone specialists Unify, there is little wonder that commercial airline passengers are demanding and craving way more information on their own flight paths, with the ability to better plan their forthcoming holiday or business trip.

A rich new cash-cow for airlines

For example, FlightPath3D’s latest apps allow passengers to browse and book future trips by simply swiping a line across their HD touchscreen map display. Airlines can then monetize this by simply emailing their customers the best offers for any future trips they were most interested in.

FlightPath3D’s new in-flight maps feature over 400,000 points of interest, with detailed location information and the option to zoom right in to street level in many cases.

Cannily, the maps also connect to the latest social media updates on thousands of tourist attractions, collating the best user reviews, pulling in the most eye-catching images from Instagram and letting you know what’s trending and where.

As well as allowing airlines to upsell future flights to their customers, new information-rich interactive in-flight maps are also proving to be a huge ad revenue generator.

AAviation geeks can now enjoy a veritable smorgasbord of flight info and data, finding out almost anything at all about places along the route. On the other hand, casual map browsers can buy tickets or view special offers for accommodation, entertainment and restaurants at their destination.

A map-based narrative Arc

Elsewhere, Panasonic’s Arc software platform extends the in-flight map beyond its borders, offering hugely engaging new ways of storytelling, air-to-ground retailing, and cross-platform interactive personalization. For example, map data can now be used by a myriad of other in-flight entertainment apps.

“[Arc] allows designers, creators and third parties to utilize our map engine in ways that have never been done before,” explains Andrew Mohr, head of innovation at Panasonic. “We love the idea of the narrative Arc for travel; how the map can really play a strong role in telling the story of travel.”

From map-based apps that allows kids to discover awesome augmented reality animals around the world, to supercool games in which passengers can pretend to pilot the plane themselves, location data is revolutionizing the passenger experience.

And what of the future? Imagine watching an in-flight movie and wondering where exactly a particular scene was shot. Perhaps the interactive map will allow you to investigate, and instantly book a hotel there. Or, maybe the entertainment system will curate a selection of TV shows and movies set in your destination, delivering a variety of interesting options for you to peruse...

Marrying rich location data with new content partners opens up vast possibilities for in-flight interactive entertainment. In the interim, sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight.

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Topics: Fun Maps, Editor's Picks, AdTech

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