Bill Cosby was right. Children do say the darndest things, a point that was underscored for me recently when I took my eight-year old daughter on her first trip abroad. While I was checking us in at London Heathrow for our return flight home to Philadelphia, my daughter observed that the US Airways kiosk was offering to upgrade us both to business class…for a sum of just under $1,600. “Oh, come on mom. Please. Please. Please,” she begged. Overcome with exhaustion (this travelling with kids business can wear a body down), I actually considered springing for the upgrade. But the last vestiges of my sanity prevailed and I had the sense to ask: “Why do you want an upgrade to business class? For a bigger seat? You’re still fairly small. You don’t suffer like your mommy suffers in economy class.” Her reply stunned me. “No, I want to watch television in the seat.”
Well, I’ll be darned.
You see, on our US Airways Boeing 757 flight to Dublin and our subsequent short-hop flight to London, my daughter was mighty disappointed to discover that some aircraft don’t have this thing called inflight entertainment (IFE). So she naturally assumed that TV-watching pleasure could only be accessed beyond the curtain in those special places called “first class” and “business class”.
I was ecstatic to be able to inform her that – somewhat inexplicably, considering the carrier’s recent vocal hostility to IFE – US Airways does in fact offer “television” in economy class on the Airbus A330 that we would have the pleasure of flying home on.
Needless to say, those little screens provided hours of diversion during the flight. When my daughter had run through the kid-friendly movie content, she simply left her ear buds in, switched over to the audio soundtracks on the IFE, and pulled out the family iPad to play some games.
These days everybody seems to have a predication about the future of embedded IFE. Time and again, the question is asked: “Can IFE really survive in a world populated with touch screen personal electronic devices?” There is little doubt that IFE must evolve (and is evolving right before our very eyes). But after witnessing the “double screen” action of my kid, I wouldn’t be too quick to count it out.