Last year, Vistara announced that they will be launching a wifi-based in-flight wifi system, where customers could stream content from Vistara’s IFE system. Business Class passengers would be given Samsung tablets by Vistara, however everyone else could use bring their own digital devices and use them. These could be smartphones or tablets or even laptop computers.
They moved fast and started providing offline content in Business class long ago, however, the real streaming solution from BAE Systems, called IntelliCabin was installed only on one Vistara plane so far, which is VT-TTB (the first plane to be inducted in their fleet). Recently, with some luck, I happened to get on this plane and got an opportunity to try out the wifi product they’ve installed to deliver entertainment on your devices.
I was only elated to see this insert lying around in the seatback pocket folder, which indicated that VistaraWorld, as the IFE is called, was available on the plane.
The front of the insert detailed how to log on to the IFE, and the backside addressed some FAQs.
Sure enough, my phone told me we were going to have access to some wifi based streaming on the flight.
Once I could log onto the network, I headed over to the page which was indicated, to have a look on the IFE system. There was also an announcement on the flight that people could use their own devices to stream IFE.
As I logged in, I was first presented with a welcome screen
Then a Terms & Conditions page without which there was no going forward
There was a home page and a menu to scroll through the content, but I was not happy that there was not a lot of choice. I agree that we don’t need a lot of choice in a 2 hour flight, and the maximum their planes fly right now are about 3 hours at the most. Having said that, the variety was still not much, and not very differentiated. For instance, there were only 3 Hindi movies, and no English movies at all on offer. Perhaps a function of the licensing cost?
The map did not work well at all. Right after take off, it told me Mumbai was only 239 miles, while it is a 700 mile+ flight on a day when there are no holding patterns. Also, 12 hours to fly was totally wrong there. Maybe the product stays in beta hence while Vistara or BAE fix these issues.
The music selection was however a bit more comprehensive. They also had the latest Coldplay album!
There was enough to watch on the TV series too
Every time there was an announcement, the IFE would stop, and very troublesomely, one could not resume from where you left, but the whole video would start all over again. I checked, cookies on my phone worked fine, so it wasn’t me. So, it wasn’t resume the word they should use, but restart.
The biggest trouble with the product however was the limited availability on our flight. The system was made available right after we climbed and reached 10,000 feet. However, for a lot of time during the flight, it would just not be available.
This was pretty painstaking to go through this randomly through watching a video, then it goes off, and then you have to go through all the steps again to come to the point where you were watching the video. Since this was a sort of streaming product, I don’t see how this would be affected by choppy weathers since the box with the content is already inside the plane and is not being streamed from the ground or air in realtime.
To sum it up, Vistara’s installation of the IFE with bring your own device is a step in the right direction, but they really need a bigger content library and fixing the frequent technical outages before this becomes a factor in choosing a flight and becomes a mainstay. Also, most people were not aware that there was going to be this product on their flight, so how about an email to customers that their flight will have in-flight entertainment.
Have you used the VistaraWorld IFE system? What do you think about it?