The skies are friendly; the passengers are not

In-Flight Opiates

Mon, 2009/08/03 - 19:25 by aargh

As I have mentioned before, we here at TravelHell aren't crack journalists. Which means no one comes here expecting the news. As such I won't apologize for sharing something that's not exactly hot off the presses nor even lukewarm. (This is where I could be a jerk and say that I'm doing my impression of print journalism, talking about a story well after it has hit The Great Internet, except that I'm too nice to say that.)

Here's an interesting piece if I've ever seen one: airlines may ditch in-flight entertainment. The reason? Apparently, so many passengers have their own gadgets that they're able to entertain themselves.

Makes sense, right? They're already yanking the galley areas since they no longer serve food. Why not take the next logical step and ditch the flight crew?

(Note to the airlines: please don't do that. You'd be better served replacing the flight attendants with riot police. But that's another story.)

Even if this report were anything more than one possible direction the airlines may take, I'm skeptical.

I have seen an increase in personal DVD players in recent years, true. But I say "increase" in the most technical, mathematical sense of the term: increasing from zero to two or three per flight. Statisticians worth their Greek letters would call that a sampling anomaly. I simply call it a rounding error.

Let's pretend for a second that personal entertainment gizmos are indeed the majority. My dear airlines, don't you realize that mass-frustration and rampant individualism make for a dangerous cocktail? Let in-flight movies be the opiate for your masses and quell the mutiny. Let the passengers stare at the little flickering screens to help them forget how little personal space they'll have for the next twelve hours. Take their mind off of the nickel-and-dime charges you've tacked on to their voyage. Hell, it may even steer them astray of joining the mile-high club.

(Well, maybe not. Ask around for the numbers on couples who watch television in the bedroom. If you can't get official stats just ask your local cable guy.)

No, no, and no. Since we here at TravelHell like to pretend we are somewhat business-minded, we propose a solution to the weary airlines and their accountants:

If you're so hurting for cash, why not sell the systems? I don't mean sell the equipment; I mean, sell the rights to our in-flight entertainment. Let some television network or film group decide what to pump into the little screen. Let some video game studio put their wares in front of your passengers. Any media company worth a dime these days would salivate at the thought of flashing their logo and content in front of a captive audience. International flights could become a testbed for new movies. Passengers would benefit because we wouldn't be subject to The Same Old Movie Again.

Just think about it. Please.

You could even sell the rights to some ad broker system, like many websites use. And when you do, drop us a line here at TravelHell. We'll pony up a spot we like to call, "Ten Ways to Annoy Your Fellow Passengers."