Flight to Tampa. Song Airlines Cool

16 08 2005

I’m in Tampa working a convention this week. Since this was a “I pay for everything” trip, I booked a flight on the cheapest airline I could find, which ended up being Song Airlines (apparently the ‘cheapo’ side of Delta). $170 round trip from Logan to Tampa. Not too shabby.
What I didn’t count on was the entirely pleasant experience of it all. Song has a great checkin system at Logan. I was initially dismayed at the horrifically long line at the Delta desk, then I glanced over and saw the ‘Song Checkin Kiosk’. The kiosks were great, and after asking for my credit card (which they siad on screen they were using only to get my name – a neat trick I thought), my reservation came up just fine. I was able to reassign my seat to an exit row right on the screen, and off I went to drop my bags in for checked baggage.
All that done, I had an hour to kill before my plane departed, and after playing Spaceward Ho for a while (a great little game for the Palm), I was able to board, only to find that my seat, which was labelled as an exit row… wasn’t an exit row.
The attendants were very pleasant, checked the bookings, and said “Try 16A, that row isn’t booked.” “Thanks!” and I plunked myself down.
The first thing I noticed was that all the airline seats had a little display in the back of the headrest, facing the person behind. I’d seen something similar before – usually it’s for showing in-flight movies or the like, but this seemed a little more robust. It was just idling while we were at the gate, but after takeoff, the system powered up and I was presented with… a menu system! It was a touchscreen. Well okay!
It turns out this is a Linux based in flight entertainment / media system that Song airlines installed in all their 757’s. You can build your own MP3 music list from their library (which was okay – I listened to Eurythmics Greatest Hits, Purple Rain, and Depeche Mode while I was doing some coding). There’s also a great scrolling display showing the position of the plane on the trip, but that wasn’t the coolest part.
In the menus, there’s a ‘Games’ section. Okay, why not. Wait. A trivia game. No, A NETWORKED trivia game! Holy cats! You can play the trivia game against other people in the plane. When you start it up, it asks you for a name to use in the score list (I typed ‘GEEK’ on the little keyboard that came up), and voila, you’re in. The games are 20 questions long, and scores are kept for the game and for the entire flight. Your seat number is shown as well, so you can get an idea where the people you’re playing against are sitting on the plane. The top player for a while was someone named BOSOX in seat 1A. I suspect it was the pilot. 🙂
This game definately made the 3 hour flight go very quickly – it was interesting hearing folks all around going “Ohhhhh! Michael Jackson did that? Huh!” when a question came up that folks were guessing on (Who collaborated with Paul McCartney on ‘The Girl is Mine’?), and then seeing everyone getting the easy ones right (“Spock, from Star Trek, came from what planet?”). You’re scored based on how fast you answer – if you answer right off the bad, 500 points. As you think about it, the score drops down eventually to 50, then 0.
The system also had movies on demand, basic television, and other goodies. It’s great to see such an outstanding system on a ‘bargain’ airline.

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2 responses

17 08 2005
ceo

Wow, that might actually make flying enjoyable. But did they have cameras pointed forwards and down, like I’ve heard of on some other airlines?

5 12 2006
camera night vision wireless

camera night vision wireless




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