Five airlines with advanced IFE systems

9 Jan 2013

A Business Traveller Asia-Pacific poll revealed that more than half of the respondents (51.3 per cent) view an airline’s inflight entertainment system (IFE) as “very important”. It’s no wonder then that airlines are putting in big investments to upgrade their IFE with state-of-the-art technologies to stay ahead, including the gradual installation of wireless internet access.

British Airways

British Airways launched its most recent IFE system back in 2010. Thales, named after the provider, made a debut on the carrier’s first B777-300ER.

Features: The AVOD IFE system works on a touch screen platform that offers a range of movies including child-friendly, family content and parental-lock settings. Additionally, there are two USB ports and RCA sockets that enable passengers to connect and view their own media. For charging, there are separate power sockets at each seat. In first, Club World and World Traveller Plus passengers also have access to games that can be played through the IFE handset.

Wifi connectivity? No

How many aircraft: A majority of its B777-300ERs and B777-200s have this integrated system.


Cathay Pacific

The carrier’s new IFE system was unveiled early last year alongside its new premium economy and long-haul economy seats (see story here). Instead of changing the entire system, Cathay Pacific opted to roll out a new Graphical User Interface (GUI) instead.

Features: The new long-haul economy seats are equipped with new touchscreens that consist of the GUI while other classes need to use the handset to navigate the AVOD media offerings. Passengers using Apple products can ask for a special cable for connection and once connected, their Apple devices become the remote control. For passengers with non-Apple products, they can still connect their gadgets to the system for charging. Additionally, there are also universal power sockets at each seat.

Wifi connectivity? No 

How many aircraft: The carrier aims to roll this system out on 56 aircraft by the end of this month, including its Airbus A330s, Boeing B777ERs and B747s.


Emirates is constantly finding new ways to maintain its competitive edge, including upgrading its IFE system. Last year, the carrier not only upgraded its interface for its existing fleet but also introduced wider screens on newly delivered B777s and A380s.

Features: As with other more advanced IFE systems, Emirates’ consists of AVOD and USB ports to allow passengers to connect their own gadgets while also charging them. All seats in business and first class and some select seats in economy class consist of three-pin sockets for charging as well.

Wifi connectivity? Most of the carrier’s A380s are equipped with wifi, provided by OnAir.

How many aircraft: As mentioned, all new B777s and A380 are installed with the new system and wider screens. Also a majority of the carrier’s delivered A380s and B777s have been fitted with the new interface as well.



Japan Airlines’ IFE system is called Magic and the latest version (MAGIC V) was launched in 2010 and is the same system that is being used on the carrier’s new Boeing Dreamliner aircraft.

Features: MAGIC-V is an AVOD system in a touchscreen environment. A USB port and RCA sockets enable users to connect their own gadgets to the system, including digital cameras. The system’s main USP is that it allows for picture-within-a-picture viewing so that passengers can view movies or other media while also having the flight map displayed to keep track of the journey as well as playing 3D games. In its Dreamliner aircraft, JAL’s MAGIC-V also offers digital Manga comics in Japanese. Economy passengers can charge their gadgets via the USB port while business class seats have a separate power socket. 

Wifi connectivity? No, not on aircraft with the MAGIC-V system. However, the carrier has started rolling out wifi on its B777-300ERs.

How many aircraft: This system is installed on 12 aircraft, including the carrier's fleet of seven Dreamliners.



Qatar Airways recently received its first Dreamliner aircraft (see story here) that consists of its new groundbreaking IFE system alongside new business class seats. 

Features: Qatar’s Dreamliners will be fitted out with Thales’ TopSeries IFE system, which offers many firsts: an Android-based touchscreen controller that can multitask, allowing passengers to play games, navigate the rest of the AVOD offerings and even dim window panes at the same time; 3D audio technology with noise-cancelling headsets; and wifi connectivity. It also consists of an iPort and USB port for passengers to connect and/or charge their devices.

Wifi connectivity? Yes

How many aircraft: Currently, Qatar has received three Dreamliner aircraft with this new system.

Alisha Haridasani

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