Rob Golledge takes a light-hearted look at the world of inflight entertainment in his latest ‘ramblings’ taken from the Amadeus Industry Eye customer newsletter. ————————————————————————– The biggest change to the onboard airline experience in the last 30 years has to be inflight entertainment (and the demise in catering, but that’s another story). Thirty years ago, inflight entertainment consisted of watching clouds… and the street lights as you came in to land. You knew things were really bad when you started reading the safety card or worse, the sick bag. (I still think a window seat is surprisingly good entertainment.)
Of course, there were always some passengers who made their own entertainment. Like the boy sitting behind me on a flight from Hong Kong to Melbourne who decided to recreate a disco by frenetically switching the overhead reading light on and off. I believe he grew up to become will.I.am.
Air New Zealand recently offered a world first: inflight crazy golf down the aisle. It sounds like fun until someone needs to use the toilet. But I suppose if you treat the other passengers like obstacles (e.g. Windmills) it all becomes part of the game.
Air Jamaica (and more recently Virgin America) hosted inflight fashion shows. Personally, I’d rather amuse myself with a coffee and a Danish pastry. A fashion show sounds like it would get in the way of the catering trolley. This is a big step backwards unless you’re on a no frills airline serving cardboard Panini’s that have been super-heated in a nuclear reactor (so they remain too hot to eat for the duration of the flight but do come in useful as hand warmers).
The 2 biggest things to revolutionise inflight entertainment has to be the introduction of seat-back TVs and on demand entertainment. This was a boon to anyone travelling with children. Entertainment on a loop system meant you never saw a film in its entirety because you were too busy feeding, changing or amusing the kids. Hours later, when you finally had time to relax and watch the film, you always ended up repeating the section you had already seen. Even to this day I can recite all the lines from first scene of Dumb and Dumber but don’t ask me how it ends. In need of some in-desk entertainment right now? You can always read these airline barf bags. It is funnier than it sounds (but maybe not straight after lunch.)