The sky’s the limit: A brief history of in-flight entertainment

The sky’s the limit: A brief history of in-flight entertainment

Many of us have already booked flights to visit family and friends or go on vacation in warmer climates as the winter holidays approach. Air travel today is synonymous with in-flight entertainment. This includes everything from the service provided by the crew to the digital content and food options.

All of these services add value for the customer. In-flight entertainment is so common that it’s impossible to imagine flying without it.

The in-flight entertainment market and connectivity market have grown to US$5,9 billion by 2019. This is a testament to its economic impact both on airlines and GDP in countries with airline carriers.

The in-flight entertainment system is so widespread that even if other airline services are offered, the airline will refund the affected passengers if they cannot access television content.

Brief History

The evolution of in-flight entertainment is remarkable. Prior to the introduction of in-flight entertainment, passengers used to entertain themselves with books or food and beverage services.

In the beginning, the goal of in-flight entertainment was to increase customer numbers. It drew inspiration from various sources, including domestic and theatrical media. It wasn’t initially to make traveling more comfortable and easier.

In-flight Entertainment began in 1921 as an experiment when 11 Aeromarine Airways customers were shown the movie Howdy Chicago during the flight on a screen that was hung inside the cabin. In 1925, 12 passengers were established The Lost World on an Imperial Airlines flight out of London.

In 1921, the first movie in flight was shown aboard an Aeromarine Airways aircraft that flew to the Chicago Pageant of Progress. (Motion Picture News).

In-flight movies were not mainstream until the 1960s. Trans World Airlines was the first airline to offer feature films on flights. The system used by David Flexer (then-president of Inflight Motion Pictures) was unique.

In-flight entertainment began to evolve in 1964 and included various media such as 16-mm films, closed-circuit TV, live television broadcasts, and magnetic tape. In the 1970s, for instance, planes could feature a large 16-mm screen and projector on one side of the aircraft while smaller screens were hung above on the other.

Seatback screens were first introduced in 1988 by Airvision, who installed screens measuring 6.9 centimeters on the backs of airline seats. Since then, they have evolved into the large screens that are now found on almost every airline.

In-flight entertainment today

In recent years, most airlines have provided personal TVs to all passengers on long-haul flights. Online streaming and the internet are now commonplace. In spite of initial concerns over speed and cost, in-flight service is becoming faster and more affordable.

The entertainment options on board include movies, music, radio shows, TV shows, documentaries, and magazines. Stand-up comedy shows, cooking shows, sporting events, kids’ shows, and magazine shows are also available.

However, the rise of personal devices, like tablets and smartphones, could spell the end for seatback screens. A number of U.S. airlines, including American Airlines, United Airlines, and Alaska Air, have removed seatback screens from their domestic planes.

This is a normal decline. In order to arrive at the sophisticated system that is used today by aircraft, aviation scholar D.A. identified a number of different stages. Reed.

Seatback screens are in decline due to the increasing use of electronic devices. 

The idea was conceived, and then there was an arms race where the majority of airlines adopted it in some form. Airlines are currently in the last phase of evolution and facing failures due to flaws in business concepts or low revenues.

Fewer airlines install seatback screens now that the majority of air travelers use electronic devices. This makes economic sense from the airline’s perspective: by removing the seatback screen, they can improve fuel costs while installing slimmer seats.

Enjoy more than just entertainment.

In-flight entertainment evolved to become more than just entertainment and comfort. It’s now a tool to advertise airlines and a cultural production.

Hollywood investors, businesspeople, entertainment providers, and manufacturers have all embraced in-flight entertainment as a platform to grow their businesses. In-flight entertainment also plays an important role in promoting the national cultures of the destination countries.

The evolution of inflight entertainment is not without challenges. In-flight entertainment is a cultural form that often reflects advertisers’, governments’, and businesses’ interests. In-flight entertainment is also a way to sell certain products, ideas, and cultures to passengers.

It was not just screens that were used to capture and sell passengers’ attention. Advertisements have been a staple of in-flight magazines for decades. By the late 1980s, they had also spread to napkins, audio channels, and even the magazine itself.

In-flight entertainment, despite its flaws and uncertain future, still provides passengers with a feeling of comfort. It helps to alleviate concerns about being suspended at over 30,000 feet. This innovation is a big part of your comfort if you’re flying over the holidays.


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