The constant failure of a Rockwell Colllins In-flight Entertainment system on Qantas aircraft has resulted in thousands of customers being denied access to movies and other programs because of constant technical problems .Qantas onboard staff claim that thousands of customers have been affected by the entertainment system failure.
In some cases customers on 20 hour flights between New York and Sydney are having to go without any form of entertainment and in some cases even a light to read because the switch for the light is built into the entertainment controller.
For Australians flying out of Australia to the USA return, the problem is compounded by the fact that they are being forced to pay up to $1,000 more than passengers who book their tickets between the USA and Australia. Currently Qantas is offering US customers a return trip to Australia for $1,099 (A$1,391.00). This also includes up to 3 domestic stopovers worth at least another $1,000 in value.
The discounted price to Australians on the Qantas web site for a Sydney LA return flight without 3 domestic stopovers is $2,388 going up to more than $3,000 per round trip.
On a recent flight between Los Angeles and Sydney hundreds of Qantas passengers were unable to access the Rockwell Collins developed entertainment system despite repeated attempts by onboard staff to reboot both the hardware and the software.
A senior Qantas cabin crew member on the flight told SMN “The problem is that we are at the front line when the entertainment system fails and it is failing a lot so we have to cop the abuse. We have been told that Qantas is about to replace the system because of the high level of failure.” They said.
They added” One of the problems is that Qantas is running full flights across the Pacific and when 300 to 400 passengers suddenly go to switch on the entertainment system the computer system running it fails despite constant rebooting. It failed between New York and LA and it has failed again inbound to Sydney. Qantas know of the problem but have done nothing to make customers aware of the fact that they are boarding an aircraft without a proper functioning entertainment system. “.
Kannyn MacRae Marketing Director at Belkin said “On my flight to the CES show between Sydney and LA I had no entertainment. Luckily I had recorded several movies and shows to my notebook so I watched them in place of the onboard entertainment system”.
My Sister who had visited from the USA for Xmas also had problems on another Qantas flight when the Qantas airlines entertainment system failed. I wrote to Qantas about the issue and all they did was write a letter of apology and said I hope we don’t lose you as customer”.
During my flight between LA and Sydney this week the entertainment system failed 3 times while my wife had no entertainment system at all in her seat. Qantas offered one days free parking at Sydney Airport as compensation.
Qantas selected the Rockwell Collins’ Total Entertainment System 5 years ago to provide passengers with access to in-flight programming selections on their fleet of international long haul Boeing 747-400’s. Rockwell Collins said at the time “The Total Entertainment System selected by Qantas offers a diverse range of entertainment options including access to intranet web sites and games, ” said Neal Keating, vice president and general manager of Rockwell Collins Passenger Systems. “These features will be on-demand for all classes and accessed through seatback video screens in economy class, and with larger individual screens for first and business class passengers.”
Qantas has ordered the system with provisions for future installation of Audio/Video On Demand, which streams the audio and video directly to individual seats, allowing passengers complete control of video programming, and for installation of passenger email capabilities.
For the last 2 years Qantas has won an award for its dud in-flight entertainment system from the World Airline Entertainment Association (WAEA).
A Qantas spokesperson said “We are not aware of any problems with our entertainment system but we will investigate and get back to you”. To-date we have not heard back from them.
In another statement Qantas said of its Entertainment system “The high priority Qantas places on this area of customer satisfaction is reflected in the fact the airline has received the award for Best Overall In-flight Entertainment in four of the last five years,” said John Borghetti, executive general manager of the airline.
SHN has also learnt that Qantas is set to test “AeroMobile” a mobile phone connectivity solution that lets passengers send and receive e-mails, SMS (short message service) messages and phone calls in-flight using their GSM mobile phones or personal electronic devices such as Blackberry phones.