Long flights can be seem interminable, especially if you’re bored. Fortunately, for nearly a century airlines have considered the entertainment of passengers a top priority. In this article we look at the history of in-flight-entertainment, from dinner parties to portable multimedia.
The Early Days
It’s hard to believe that there were passenger airplanes as early as 1921, when the first in-flight movie “Howdy Chicago” premiered on an Aeromarine Airways flight. In 1936 the famous Hindenburg airship was equipped with an entire lounge, piano and a bar!
It seems that the theme of in-flight-entertainment in the early days of air travel was luxury. Though air travel was new, for the upper classes there was a well engrained tradition of “fine living” on ships which was naturally adapted for airlines.
This focus on elegance and a “dinner party” model held strong through the sixties but advances in technology were soon making it possible to expand the model.
Though it began in the 1920′s on sight-seeing planes, the trend of showing in-flight movies wasn’t regularly adopted until 1961 when passengers were given the option to choose from a list of films which were stored on the plane’s main computer.
In 1963, pneumatic headsets were introduced to provide prerecorded music to every seat and by 1974 these were largely replaced by electronic headphones.
Technology has continued to improve and at a faster rate than ever. These days music accessibility is more of an expectation than a luxury.
The Modern Era of In-flight-Entertainment
Today when you fly, your choices for in-flight-entertainment may depend on which class you fly in. First/Business classes cost much more than normal seating but many people swear that it’s worth every penny to fly in comfort.
These flights typically offer more comfortable seating, compensated drinks, better food and bigger viewing screens for shows and movies.
But unlike the “Golden Age”, air travel is not reserved for the wealthy anymore. Plane tickets prices are down roughly 40% from 1970 and as more and more people can afford to travel, the model has been expanded to provide everyone with solid entertainment
Even short flights typically show scheduled movies in all classes and on international flights, every passenger can enjoy a wide selection of shows, movies, music and radio channels.
Also, flights are now being distinguished by their ability to provide “connectivity,” that is, Internet and cell phone access. As the technology continues to improve, the cost of connectivity will hopefully drop until it’s as common as headphone adapters on armrests.
Most significantly, personal technology is making in-flight-entertainment a factor that the passenger controls! Now you can have your multi-use phone, laptop, kindle and mp3 player with you so you’re never relying on the airlines.
What is your favorite form of entertainment during flights? Do you like to work, read, or play video games? Tell us some of your favorite in-flight-entertainment options and you may be featured in an upcoming blog. You can post your answers via Facebook, Twitter, comment below or through E-mail.