Sarah Coburn-Rothermel — a mother of two young children who lives in Tulsa — posted a petition wanting American Airlines, Austrian Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and NBC Universal to stop showing violent and sexually inappropriate movies and television programs on drop-down and bulkhead screens aboard airplanes after she allegedly witnessed several movies with French dialogue showing scenes with domestic abuse and sexual situations accompanied by English subtitles laced with profanity.
Because the description of the content in question occurred specifically on a flight from Vienna to New York operated by Austrian Airlines, Jaan Albrecht — who is the chief executive officer of Austrian Airlines — responded: “Thank you for making me aware of this topic. But Austrian Airlines does not have any drop-down or bulkhead screens on its aircraft anymore. Since August 2013, all our long-haul planes (destinations in the US are Chicago, New York and Washington D.C., from July 2014 on also Newark, New Jersey) have been upgraded with individual touch screens. Best regards!”
The petition in question currently has 3,017 supporters as of the time this article was posted at The Gate.
While I have seen content provided by the in-flight entertainment system aboard an airplane that may be considered questionable for the viewing of all audiences, I have never seen content alleged by Sarah Coburn-Rothermel shown in a circumstance where the viewer has no control whatsoever to hide it or turn it off — and if that really was the case, then I would have to agree with Sarah Coburn-Rothermel that such content is inappropriate.
However, the only time I have ever seen content which can be considered as offensive as described by Sarah Coburn-Rothermel is on in-flight entertainment systems where each seat has its own personal monitor where the viewer may choose what content to watch — or leave the system off, if desired. Even then, the viewer must listen to the content via a headset of some type, meaning that that viewer is the only person listening to the content. In that case, the viewer should be able to watch whatever he or she wants to watch.
Then again, there is the controversy as to what passengers watch on their own personal electronic devices. A discussion on FlyerTalk addressed this particular topic — pertaining to what do you do if your seatmate is watching adult videos on his laptop computer — and has since been locked.
I reported at The Gate on a particular discussion on FlyerTalk almost exactly five years ago on a similar topic pertaining to adult movies offered as entertainment in hotel rooms as one of the pay-per-view options. FlyerTalk members may have been divided on the issue — but a decision was reached by executives at Marriott International, Incorporated in 2011 to remove adult content from being offered in its hotel rooms.
I am not certain as to whether or not there is any correlation, but there was an announcement earlier this year that LodgeNet — the provider of content in the hotel rooms of Marriott hotel properties for years — was expected to file for bankruptcy. I suspect that was due to advances in technology — such as high-speed Internet — which can be considered disruptive to the business model of LodgeNet. However, I would not be surprised if the removal of adult content from the rooms in hotel properties operated by Marriott International, Incorporated did not exactly help matters for LodgeNet.
Now, I am not suggesting that the content on the in-flight entertainment systems of airlines is showing what was available for a fee by LodgeNet and other pay-per-view providers, which basically was considered pornography. However — unlike in a hotel room, which in and of itself offers privacy — if questionable content is being shown on a screen which cannot be hidden or turned off, does Sarah Coburn-Rothermel have a legitimate concern?
FlyerTalk member JVPhoto found the petition “interesting.” What do you think? Do you support this petition?