My friend Girasoli has just posted about a rather uncomfortable return flight from a Slow Travel GTG. She had no choice of movies, as the entertainment system was centrally controlled. Horrible. This made me think about how very much I appreciate the progress that has been made in many in-flight, in-seat entertainment systems.
This probably sounds insignificant to a lot of travelers. But I cannot bear to be bored. And let’s face it, flying is boring, at best. When I’m bored, every other annoying thing about flying increases in scope. The kid kicking the back of my seat, the passenger in the next seat who hogs the arm rest (which, to me, should be a neutral zone. A kind of fence between good neighbours.)
However, these annoyances can be much more easily ignored by the pleasant distraction and escape provided by a good in-flight, in-seat entertainment system.
I realize that these days, I have more and more options for making my own fun during a flight. I can read to a certain extent, although it can be hard to focus during a flight. Especially in the middle of night, because I can’t sleep during travel, so I’m awake for every painful minute of the flight. I can eat – and I certainly do. I can drink – ditto. And I keep my beloved iPod handy at all times.
I remember a flight back from Hong Kong a few years ago, before iPod and before in-seat entertainment. I read Middlemarch from cover to cover. That’s how long the flight was.
I fly most often with Air Canada, which is frequently mocked by Canadians, but which I think actually stands up well to international comparisons. I have very few beefs with Air Canada. Likely, that’s because I’ve been seduced by their decent in-flight entertainment systems. In roughly the last two years, every flight I’ve made within Canada and to Europe has featured a seat-back system that lets each passenger select her own brand of distraction. There’s usually more than a dozen films, a mix of old and new; some TV shows; even a few documentaries. This is very helpful. I’ve flown twice to Europe with Swiss International Airlines, very nice people, a good amount of chocolate. But the in-flight entertainment system has broken down twice, and that’s unacceptable.
Alas, on Air Canada these days there are an increasing number of advertisements before every movie or program, and these can’t be dodged using fast-forward. But I can tolerate quite a bit to have control of the remote!