Domestic and international mass transit travelers are accustomed to having dozens of in-flight entertainment options available to them during their journeys. The conveniences that travelers enjoy today are indeed impressive yet would not be possible without the storied trial and error process that culminated in this technology. You can appreciate the in-travel Internet access, games, movies and other enjoyments found today by learning more about the history of modern travel entertainment which can make air travel more enjoyable and help you relax.
The Early Days of In-flight Entertainment
In-flight entertainment got its start in 1925. During an international flight that took off from Croyden Airport, Imperial Airways offered a showing of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle film The Lost World.
The showing was a success and widely hailed by the media. Soon after that first in-flight movie showing, other airliners began following suit.
By 1931, airliners throughout the world expanded their in-flight entertainment options to include live radio broadcasts. Travelers could listen to their favorite radio programs without missing an episode during their flights.
Despite the success of in-flight movies and radio program broadcasts, some airliners experimented with offering live entertainment. In 1941, actress and singer Veronica Lake was hired by an airliner to sing and dance for passengers traveling to New York City.
Other celebrities were recruited for the same purpose by other airliners as well. However, live entertainment never garnered favor with travelers, and the experiment was largely chalked up as a failure and abandoned altogether.
Post-World War II In-travel Entertainment
After World War II, airliners began competing against each other in earnest for customers’ money and favor. They upped their game by experimenting with and investing in some of the most technological forward in-travel entertainment available to them.
Along with offering six course meals and luxurious seating and cabin amenities, airliners also made available personalized entertainment. Instead of travelers having to strain to hear the movies over the sound of the plane engines, they could listen to the movie comfortably in their seats by wearing headphones through which the sounds of the movie were streamed.
With the advent of video games, airliners began catering to younger travelers by offering in-flight gaming systems. Braniff Airlines led the way in 1975 by making available in-travel games like Pong to people who did not want to watch the in-flight movie.
By 1982, technology had advanced to the point that passengers could track their own flights through systems like Airshow. This technology is still found in the airline industry today.
Seat back entertainment systems became available in 1988. These 2.7-inch LCD screens were first used by airliners like Virgin Atlantic.
The systems allowed passengers to watch movies and TV programs. However, they could also use the systems to order food and beverages as well as duty-free goods.
Finally, the first in-flight email access came about in 2001. Air Canada offered travelers the opportunity to access the Internet and their email accounts during domestic and international flights. Upon realizing the success and popularity of this technology, other airliners throughout the world followed suit and implemented their own in-flight Internet access.
In-flight entertainment has existed for almost 100 years. From the earliest showings of silent movies to Internet and email access found today, these systems make traveling more fun and convenient. Customers now expect such in-travel entertainment options when they journey within the country or overseas.