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Alaska Airlines approves new online streaming service for fleet

Alaska Airlines has approved a plan to begin installing in one year a still undisclosed online streaming service across the fleet for in-flight entertainment.

Chief executive Brad Tilden confirmed the move on 4 February on the sidelines of the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance (PNAA) annual convention in Lynnwood, Washington.

“We just signed a business case recently to go to servers on the airplane,” Tilden says. “So there will be like 1,000 movies, something like that, plus music, all sorts of choices that people will download either to their own device or to an enhanced service. That will be on in a year.”

An airline spokesman confirmed the airline was considering the online streaming service, but declined to identify the vendor.

Tilden said he could not remember the name of the service, but said he thought it was a Microsoft product or a Microsoft operating system.

Microsoft has partnered with Lufthansa Systems to provide a wireless in-flight entertainment service called BoardConnect, which includes a WinServer 2008 R2 operating system.

The service will supplement Gogo in-flight on Alaska Airlines’ fleet, which Tilden considers insufficient.

“We’ve got Gogo for email, which is not great,” Tilden says.

Alaska moved to Gogo in 2010 after an experiment with in-flight connectivity rival Row 44, but may not be the carrier’s long-term provider.

“We did try Row 44. We had some issues with that,” Tilden says, without elaborating. “I bet we go back at some point. We want the technology to mature a little more before we do.”

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