Put Your Hands Where I can See Them While I Turn Off That Electronic Device

A long short story: A funny thing was posted by UpInTheEric yesterday. On a United flight from SMF to DEN, “typical pushback procedure, nothing special. Then the FA comes on the intercom and says something to the effect of: ‘we have a device here that can detect electronic devices that are still on, and we can see there are still nine devices that need to be powered off…'”

Like a standup that can’t sit down, the discussion that follows the post pretty much concludes it was a bluff, that no such device exists (and if it does, it should be powered off).

But that tart-tongued flight attendant played it straight, even adding, “Ladies and gentlemen, we know what devices are powered on, and yes, we even know what seat you’re sitting in, so don’t make us come visit you in person.”

Ha! Well there is something incongruous about the space-age aura of flight and the nixing of electronic devices. Like the difference between calculus and simple sums. Like my Fifty Shades on iPad is going to tie up the radar? (Keep a lid on that.) In-flight entertainment is a curious mash-up that needs to play catch-up. Maybe that UA flight attendant was using standup, deadpan humor to make a point.

Also yesterday, writing in the New York Times, Joe Sharkey discusses some of the larger issues surrounding in-flight entertainment that airlines are asking: What kind of hardware? Expensive in-seat entertainment systems? Or supersonic Wi-Fi (fuel-saving nothingness)? Maybe some omelet of both?

Singapore Airlines gets singled out for betting on pure oxygen – high-end embedded movies and games. But there don’t appear to be any real outliers out there.

Maybe the real capital-Q Question airlines are asking is: How can we get top dollar from in-flight entertainment? (Hey, flying is hard enough, there’s no reason to be mean.)

It would be interesting to read how FlyerTalk members entertain themselves in-flight. I think airlines of the future that don’t offer perfect-pitch Wi-Fi will be totally hosed.

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