Broadway tickets available in planes

In-Flight Box Office aims to lure tourists

Coffee? Tea? Tickets to Broadway?

Soon, in addition to SkyMall wares, you’ll be able to browse at 30,000 feet for Rialto ducats. In the next month, a Canadian company will roll out a new program that enables flight attendants to hawk show tickets to passengers traveling on inbound flights to New York-area airports.

Called In-Flight Box Office, the service teams Toronto-based onboard retailer GuestLogix with Shubert Ticketing. The effort aims to capture a segment of the tourist biz that makes up an increasingly hefty percentage of Main Stem sales.

Some 70% of Broadway auds travel to Gotham via an area airport, and in general, half of those haven’t scored tickets by the time they arrive.

With the new service, flight attendants will conduct transactions on handheld devices that can print out a voucher to be redeemed at the theater’s box office for purchased seats. Updates on available ticket inventory come wirelessly every two hours.

Pilot program offers tickets (priced at $100-$120 each) to four long-running tuners with high international profiles: “Chicago,” “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Mamma Mia!” Onboard advertising will initially be limited to a seatback info card and a PA announcement, although Brett Proud, exec VP at GuestLogix, anticipates expanding into spots on in-flight entertainment screens.

Both GuestLogix and the airline receive “convenience fee” coin for each ticket sold.

In-Flight Box Office takes off on one airline in the next month (likely American Airlines), with another U.S. carrier to follow, and soon thereafter an airline that services London.

“We think average purchases will be higher on (the London flight), because everyone has more time inbound twiddling their thumbs,” Proud says.



Broadway’s Efforts to Protect White Spaces

The Aug. 12 audience at “The Phantom of the Opera” didn’t know it, but the testing of “spectrum sensing devices” was going on all around them.

Here’s the backstory: The White Spaces Coalition, a group of tech giants including Google, Microsoft and Dell, wants to offer broadband Internet access over unused transmission frequencies — i.e., “white spaces.”

But that’s worrying to Broadway, among other live entertainment industries, because if such white space use doesn’t function properly, it could seriously screw up the wireless mic transmissions integral to Rialto tuners.

“It would be a disaster,” says Charlotte St. Martin, prexy of the Broadway League, the producers’ trade association. So for the last year, the League has lobbied the Federal Communications Commission to test such budding tech in the Rialto environment.

The first step toward using white spaces is creating a sensor that can detect which frequencies are available and which are in use. On Aug. 12, FCC engineers went to “Phantom” to test two prototype devices — conducting trials during a daylong work session and, unobtrusively, during the show’s evening perf.

Neither of the devices worked, according to League reps who attended. Both were confused about which channels were open.

What that means for the developing technology remains to be seen. For the moment, the FCC is considering the engineers’ findings from the “Phantom” experiments, as well as from tests done at other live events, including a Washington Redskins/Buffalo Bills football game. Legiters think the org will likely hand out a ruling about whether such devices can be used, and under what parameters, by the end of the year.

“We just want to make sure whatever is approved actually works,” St. Martin says.

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