More control during flights

In-flight entertainment has become an indispensable part of modern air travel. While passengers used to pass the time with a complimentary newspaper, modern travellers enjoy the luxury of on-board television screens. These were first mounted to the ceiling and later incorporated into every seat.

The modern version provides individual entertainment for all passengers. These days, depending on the class, passengers can enjoy a wide range of films, music and games. They can also track their flight in real-time, with updated information on altitude, speed and estimated arrival time.

The latest development is that commercial airlines are moving away from in-flight entertainment screens and are opting instead to jump on the 'bring-your-own-device' bandwagon. These days, nearly all travellers have their own smartphone or tablet, which can be switched on as soon as the plane reaches cruising altitude. The advent of free in-flight WiFi, as seen on United Airlines' regional fleet (, gives airlines the opportunity to provide passengers with updates and information on their own electronic devices.

I recently experienced this first-hand on a United Airlines flight to Mexico. Outside the United States you can use WiFi to view in-flight entertainment and real-time flight information. When flying over the United States, you can also contact the outside world. Just one US dollar an hour gets you a connection with enough bandwidth to check your e-mail. More bandwidth is available at a higher rate. After experiencing this service first-hand, the only thing I can say is: Make sure you have enough battery power. On most flights, power outlets are only available in Economy Plus or Business Class.

It's interesting to think about what the next development might be. Maybe one day we can silently communicate with the crew to ask for a cup of coffee while the other passengers sleep. It would also be nice to exchange travel tips about your destination with your fellow passengers. Or how about a fun game of Scrabble or Monopoly? In the end, it's all about passing the time!

What's your favourite way to pass the time on a plane?

Bas de Smit
Bas de Smit
Result & Conversation Manager
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