In Flight Entertainment Then and Now

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A lot of people throughout the United States fly every day. It is estimated that every day at least eight million people take to the skies. At least 41% of those people pass the time on their flights watching movies. At least 21% spend the time reading and another 17% sleep on their flights. In flight entertainment systems and aircraft display systems make the experience better for many people.

In flight entertainment systems have been around almost since the beginning of airplane travel. Refund Meandnbsp;has a great rundown of the history of the use of these systems.

The early days of in flight entertainment were a bit different from what we know today. The first systems were a far cry from the aircraft display systems that are on planes today. In 1921, a promotional movie about Chicago was shown to passengers aboard an airplane. The movie was called, “Howdy Chicago.” After that, airlines began showing the popular silent movies of the day. One movie that went over well was, “The Lost World.” That was the film version of the Arthur Conan Doyle book.

In 1931, airlines began playing live radio programs. These includes, but were not limited to, live concerts. These were very popular with the people who were flying at the time.

Veronica Lake, a famous Hollywood actress, participated in an event on board a plane in 1941. She entertained the passengers as they enjoyed their in flight meals. Aircraft display systems had been improved enough to make in flight movies more popular and in 1941, the airline, Pan American, treated its passengers to the popular movie, “Stagecoach.” The airline made the experience better by serving food during the movie when the reels were changed. This was considered to be the height of luxury so much that no one cared that the engine noise made the movie almost impossible to hear.

It was not until the 1960s that aircraft displays included a better way to watch movies. Headphones were introduced to make listening to the films easier, though the audio was still not great. The good news is that in flight entertainment systems manufacturers had improved the systems to allow airlines to show multiple movies, which was helpful when there were flight delays. The new in flight entertainment systems were smaller and easier to use.

When the 8mm film cartridge was developed in 1971, it had a great impact on what could be shown on aircraft display systems. This invention opened up a lot more options for in flight programming. In 1975, they began offering passengers the ability to play video games, though the main game of the day was “Pong.”

In 1982, aircraft display systems began to display maps showing passengers where they were on their trip. This was called, “Airshow.” New aircraft display systems were put into the backs of airplane seats in 1988. Virgin Atlantic was the first airline to offer this to passengers in coach class. Other airlines only had that available for people in first and business classes.

Technology started to advance at a faster rate in the late 1990s. In 1996, live television was made available to passengers flying on Delta Airlines. It was not for a few years that more changes came to in fight entertainment.

In 2001, people flying were able to send email. Now, WiFi is considered to be a necessity for many people who are flying. In fact, at least 25% of flyers told Trip Advisor in 2013, that they would pick a different airline to get WiFi during their flight. As many as 37% of passengers told Trip Advisor that they think a tablet is an essential carry on item for flights. This was part of their 2013 Air Travel Survey. The number of people who use tablets on planes went up 5% from 2012.

More and more airlines are looking to make the in flight experience better for their passengers. Virgin Atlantic is still leading the way with in flight luxury and they now offer spa treatments during some flights.

The experience of flying has changed a lot since the Wright Brothers took to the skies in North Carolina. One thing that is certain is that airlines will continue to try to make the experience better.

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