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Hello and welcome to Seat 1A!

When you travel, do you ever wonder how you can be that person who is always ahead of the pack, even when things go awry? Hosts Vinod Viswalingam (@VViswalingam) and Geoff Dahl (@geoffdahl) are proud to present The Seat 1A Podcast.

Seat 1A aims to provide savvy travellers with advanced industry based knowledge to enhance the air travel experience and take off from the crowd. By arming you with an understanding of the systems, processes, rules and structures that define modern air travel, Seat 1A strives to give you the upper hand by examining real experiences from abroad.

Whether traveling in ultra-economy or first-class, with or without frequent flyer status, knowing how the operation works will keep you moving in front of the masses, especially when things don’t go as planned. Seat 1A provides tips and tricks on how to make your travel experience as smooth and efficient as possible. Our goal is that you'll be in Seat 1A all the time!

We have over 5 million miles of flying and over 10 years working for numerous airlines, enjoying all classes and cabins, and exploring airports on every continent. We're enthusiastic #avgeeks, with a keen interest in modern aviation trends and aim to share our knowledge in The Seat 1A Podcast. To learn more about who we are, check out Experience 010!

The Seat 1A Podcast also relies on feedback from listeners, offering the chance to take real experiences and analyze them, breaking them down to understand what happened, where things went well or wrong and what can be learned from it. If you have a story, question or experience that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at)seat1a.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Jan 28, 2022

In this experience we look at in-flight entertainment (IFE). What is its history, how has it evolved, and we share our experiences.

People board a flight with the intent of being entertained while in flight.

Vinod remembers back to his youth and seeing the projector as he boarded the plane – he knew there probably was a movie on a long flight. Geoff remembers watching in-flight edited movies as a kid. As they grew older, they would both look in the in-flight magazine to see what was playing.

Airlines put a lot of investment into their IFE as a key factor to retain passengers.

We go back to 1921(!) to learn about the first ever in-flight movie. Vinod and Geoff remember the stethoscope looking headsets. Vinod shares a memory of flying into Tampa where the flight ended before the movie (which was not a happy situation for one passenger in particular).

The evolution of the IFE continued – monitors attached to the panel above and then LCD monitors that came down from the panel above. Vinod remembers the logistics of running the LCD system and keeping passengers from using certain overhead bins where everything was running.

There was a shift into TV-on-demand with certain airlines. In certain cases it required that you put your credit card into the seat back to pay for extra movies or special channels. Vinod shares his memories of working at WestJet when they were switching from inflight TV to Wi-Fi and were renting tablets. Today many systems are Wi-Fi based.

A common situation that Vinod encountered as flight crew was people coming on-board unprepared and completely dependent on the IFE. Pro-tip – make sure that you travel with some sort of offline tech. Vinod shares the "fun" he had when certain seats had IFE that didn't work.

Remember when flying ultra low-cost carriers, there is a very good chance that you won't be getting any IFE, and sometimes you may be a captive audience to a performing in-flight crew.

The amount of power and wiring for an IFE system famously led to a tragedy with Swissair 111 off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada. The 787 also saw runaway batteries when it first launched.

Content is regionalized, with cultural sensitivities. Th quality of both video and audio entertainment has come a long way. There are also many different camera views that are now available on many aircraft. Video games are also an option in the IFE – with some airlines offering the controllers.

Remember: Always bring something with you - because you never know when the system is not going to work.

News Items:

  • simpleflying.com article "British Airways To Finish Its 777 Club Suite Roll Out Next Year [2022]."
  • businesstraveller.com article "Ryanair launches 'Day of Travel Assistant' and new refunds commitment."

If you have a story about in-flight entertainment, or other experiences that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at)seat1a.org or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you wish to support the show financially, we are on Patreon. Show notes are available online at http://podcast.seat1a.org/.