Delta Air Lines has quietly issued a request for information (RFI) to bring 350-plus non-imbedded handheld in-flight entertainment (IFE) devices on each of the 16 Boeing 747-400s it inherited from Northwest Airlines, ATI and Flight Global can exclusively reveal.

A source with knowledge of the situation says the SkyTeam Alliance member issued the RFI late last week.

Asked to comment on the news, a Delta spokesman says: "Delta is looking at ways to harmonize the customer experience across its fleet."

In a recent online update, Delta said it currently offers audio/video on demand (AVOD) in the Business Elite cabins of its 16 747-400s and 57 767-300ERs. However, overhead IFE is installed in the economy cabins of those aircraft.

Delta's latest RFI could provide a potential windfall to whichever in-flight portable IFE maker is chosen, as the company would be required to supply 5,600 or more portable players to Delta.

The duration of the contract is not known, however.

In a 12 May post to Delta's blog, a traveller suggested the carrier install AVOD on its 747-400s, saying: "For a 12-hour flight, AVOD would be much appreciated, and it would bring the aircraft more up to date with other airlines."

Delta senior product manager - IFE Chris Babb responded: "I do love a Boeing 747-400...probably the most elegant airliner ever built. But taking into account fuel prices and the desire for more point-to-point non-stop service, I'd guess the future will be more two-engine, more fuel-efficient wide-bodies."

Delta acquired and merged with Northwest last year. In addition to streamlining the IFE experience for passengers, Delta's goal over the next few years "is to harmonize interiors giving customers a more consistent look and flight experience", says the Delta spokesman.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news