In-Flight Entertainment: Flying High or Sinking Low?

Apr 7 • Culture, Front Page • 1328 Views

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Restless children running up and down the aisles. Tiny seats and no overhead space for carry-ons. That guy with the music blasting so loud from his Beats headphones you can hear it two rows away.

 

Air travel, though the most modern, “convenient” way to get from Point A to Point B, certainly comes with its fair share of hassles. Even the smoothest of flights can lead to a headache or two. On any given day, on any given flight, the experience is often far from ideal.

 

But what if airlines worked to improve your in-flight experience? Many already have, adding streaming television channels and more movies to their entertainment options. While these new perks are an added bonus for the customer (I actually shrieked while watching a March Madness buzzer-beater at 35,000 feet last year), airlines are missing out on a key entertainment market for their travelers—LIVE in-flight entertainment.

 

A few videos have “gone viral” recently of airplane entertainment, including flashmobs, song and dance routines, and more. Last week, the following video surfaced of the Australian cast of The Lion King singing and delighting their fellow passengers with a rendition of “Circle of Life” aboard a Virgin flight:

 

 

Looks fun, right?

 

Wrong.

 

Well, wrong in some cases. As the Lion King video was gaining popularity and receiving accolades last week, a similar story made news for very different reasons. SpiceJet, an Indian airline, found itself in hot water after video surfaced of crew members dancing in the aisles in celebration of the Hindu festival Holi.

 

 

The three-minute clip, taken during a Goa-to-Bangalore flight, shows traditional dancing to a popular Bollywood number. The dance was professionally choreographed as a “Holi delight for passengers,” according to a SpiceJet representative, but the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) wasn’t too pleased at the performance of the festive dance number.

 

According to the DGCA, dancing onboard the flight “endangered aircraft safety and created an unruly environment.”  The DGCA stated that the crew members were distracted, thereby reducing their preparedness, and even went so far as to say that “the frequent movement of the dancing crew may have affected the aircraft’s center of gravity during the flight and created turbulence.”

 

Watch the video again. Aside from a little camera-operator shakiness, there were no evident signs of turbulence. The dance looked fun and wholesome, with limited movements to impact flight pattern, and passengers were even clapping along to the music in enjoyment. I’m no aviation expert, but I hardly think the lighthearted dance put the aircraft or the passengers in jeopardy.

 

SpiceJet has replied to the DGCA’s statements, noting that there were extra crew members aboard the flight and the cockpit was manned at all times during the performance. At this point, two pilots have been suspended and SpiceJet is under close scrutiny, with further penalties likely to come.

 

If you ask me, the DGCA is looking at this situation the wrong way. The crew should be encouraged and applauded for their efforts, not scolded and reprimanded. As a paying traveler, I would love to see some live in-flight entertainment—and might even be willing to pay more to see it!

 

So listen up, American Airlines, Southwest, United… you’re missing a key market!  By filling your planes with dancing crew members, stand-up comedians, or singing passengers, you will truly become the stewards of the sky. (Not to mention, the publicity that goes along with a great performance can’t hurt!)

 

Hey, if you have to be stuck on a flight for a few hours—packed in like a sardine and smelling the putrid woman next to you — you might as well enjoy the experience!

 

UPDATE:

I came across this video of a hilarious Southwest Airlines flight attendant giving the normally boring safety speech a seriously funny upgrade – it sounds more like a stand-up comedy routine!  Can I book my next Southwest flight with her?

 

 

 

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