Wanna Fly the iTunes Skies?

It’s always a good idea to question numbers from self-selecting surveys like this, but the aviation site Flight Global conducted a poll from April 12 to 18 which found that over one third of airline passengers would download songs from Apple’s iTunes Music Store if it were available via inflight seat-back entertainment systems.

The poll was spurred by discussions between Apple Computer and inflight entertainment system providers about licensing iTunes software and service. The idea would be that passengers could use their frequent-flyer miles to download music and videos onto their iPods during a flight.

The talks suggest that not only is Apple looking to expand its iTunes service into somewhat unexpected areas, but that commercial air carriers are increasingly looking at consumer-oriented digital services as potential revenue streams, in addition to business-oriented Internet and data services. Airlines routinely have comparatively tech-laden audiences “captive” for long periods of time during flights: while their focus so far has been largely on providing telephone and data communications services while in-flight so business travelers are more able to use the time productively, it makes sense that carriers would want to use the same technological facilities to supply “captive” digital media consumers with premium content services.

We’d be interested in a poll asking how many airline passengers would be willing to “gift” iTunes videos or music to other passengers in hopes they might shut up.