Weekend read: the end of in-flight video

At least, the end of those terrible, terrible screens in the back of the seat ahead of you.

Earlier this year, I boarded a United flight from Newark to San Diego. After passing the first few rows, a young boy turned to his mother and asked, “Why aren’t there any TVs?”

“It’s probably an older plane,” she responded — but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

The aircraft, a 737-900 with Boeing’s Sky Interior (a Dreamliner-esque recessed ceiling lit with blue LEDs), had only been flying for a few weeks. It looked new, and it even had that “new plane smell” most passengers would only associate with a factory-fresh auto. But despite the plane’s clean and bright appearance, the family only noticed the glaring absence of seat-back screens. To them, our 737 might as well have rolled off the assembly line in 1984.

Why your brand-new plane doesn’t have a seat-back TV – Zach Honig, Engadget (6 August 2014)

You’ve already guessed that it’s because we watch more on our iPads with their gorgeous screens and just about anything we fancy watching. It’s not hard to beat those dreadful airline screens with a limited selection – all of which has been edited. They’re edited to take out material that might upset you as you fly in an airplane – I believe Snakes on a Plane gets shown as a three-minute music video – and they’re cropped to fit the crappy screens.

But what interested me in this full Engadget article is why airlines hate those screens too. That’s what sold me: this is true, this is how it is going to be on all aircraft, everywhere, just as soon as they can pull it off.

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