Emirates marks three decades of airborne entertainment and connectivity

This spring marks 30 years since Emirates made the radical decision to install seat-back TV screens across all cabin classes throughout its fleet.

It was the first airline to offer the then-new technology to all passengers and the revolutionary move would shape travellers’ expectations and the inflight entertainment industry in the decades to come.

In 1993 it became the first airline to equip its entire Airbus fleet with satellite phones and in 2007 it was the first carrier to launch closed captions on movies. In 2008 it began allowing passengers to use their own mobile phones onboard and five years later it introduced live TV to its cabins. In 2014, it became the first airline to offer audio descriptions to its movie offering and 2018 saw it become the first airline to offer a choice of more than 1,000 onboard movies.

Emirates’ senior vice president retail, IFE & connectivity Patrick Brannelly said: “When Emirates introduced personal screens on every seat back in 1992, it was considered a massive industry innovation. Other airlines questioned the sense of this huge investment, estimated at about US$15,000 per seat at that time. But we quickly realised that our customers loved being entertained throughout the flight. It made their journeys feel shorter and fostered customer satisfaction and loyalty.”

[Take a trip down memory lane and watch Emirates’ TV ad introducing personal in-seat video systems in all seats back in 1992.]

Never one to rest on its laurels, the Dubai-based carrier has constantly introduced new IFCE innovations over the years and large, ultra-high definition 4k screens, with faster and improved Wi-Fi connectivity, are among the developments Emirates has planned for its new generation IFE systems. As the airline continues to improve its inflight offering these new products will be fitted to new airframes as they are delivered to the fleet. Furthermore, the carrier is constantly updating its extensive library of onboard content with over 100 movies and 200 TV episodes being added each month.

“We’ve never stopped improving our product,” said Brannelly. “Emirates is constantly adding the best content from over 40 world regions to ice, our IFE system, and making sure that amazing content is experienced on the largest personal screens in the industry and through quality headphones and audio systems.”

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