Saturday 3 March 2012

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Timothy Goes To Air Canada

I know that I've proclaimed my loyalty to Alaska Airlines on this site before, but when the price is right, I'm willing to give any airline a shot. When the boy and I flew down to Los Angeles for Disneyland's Leap Day, the price was right on Air Canada. It's been a long time since I was on an Air Canada flight, so I was quite pleased to find a few things that I really liked about their planes. The fact that they had only two seats on one side of their plane was a huge positive for me, as it meant my son and I didn't have to squish together so as not to intrude on somebody else's seat. Having only two seats also meant no support underneath the seats, making it much easier to store our carry-on luggage. The biggest point of interest for me though, was their in-seat entertainment system.

Now I always travel with my iPad, so I've never given a lot of thought to in-flight entertainment systems. On the rare occasion that I've flown planes with them installed, I usually just put it on the map screen and watch my own movie or doze off. On this flight however, my attention was diverted by watching how other people used the in-flight systems.  The people in front of us seemed to have no idea how to use theirs, fumbling with the screen a few times, managing to switch the language setting to Spanish, then gaving up and settling in for a nap. The 50-something lady across the aisle was watching Puss in Boots, although she seemed to be fast forwarding through some parts, then rewinding and watching other parts over and over again. The 80 year old Chinese lady sitting in front of her was on a Timothy Goes To School marathon, and even though I couldn't see her wearing any headphones I could hear her laughing to herself and she kept switching to the next available episode at the conclusion of each one.

While I was amusing myself watching people try and navigate the entertainment menus, I noticed something strange. Demonstrating that kids do indeed model their parents behavior, my son had set his screen to the map and then plugged in to his phone to listen to a little music. Every once in a while our screens would sync up on the distance traveled map, and each time, my seat was 10 miles further along than his. I'm not sure exactly how wide this plane was (It was an E90 if that makes a difference) but I'm guessing that the distance between our two seats wasn't the problem. I was having fun taunting the boy that I was going to get to our destination first, and there was no way I was going to wait around for him, when he reminded me of a line that I'd used often whenever my kids weren't happy with their seat assignment on a plane. The venerable "It doesn't matter where you sit, everybody gets there at the same time" seemed to be open to some debate at this point.

I do have to wonder about some of the entertainment that they make available on the in-flight systems though. I noticed that under TV series, True Blood was available as a selection. Now despite not being a particular fan of the show, I'd venture to say that I've
seen almost every episode ever made since my wife qualifies at the next level above "maniacally obsessed fan of the show". Of all the episodes I've ever seen however, I don't think there's ever been one that I'd feel comfortable watching on a plane where nosy people might be trying to see what I'm watching over my shoulder ('s different! I was doing it for research purposes.). Heck it's not even a show that we allow our teenage kids to watch, and we're pretty liberal with what we allow them to see. I suppose they could be edited versions, but how long would an edited version of True Blood be? I'm guessing under 10 minutes.

I don't know if I'm going to start choosing my flights based on who has the best in-flight entertainment systems, but I have to say that I enjoyed the extra entertainment that came from watching other people play with theirs. The new release movies definitely seem to come to these systems a lot faster than they used to, which is great since I used to struggle to find something that I hadn't seen yet. Of course you can't beat the classics. 40 years from now, I'll probably be the guy in 17C, ten miles behind the rest of the plane, fast forwarding and rewinding Timothy Goes To School over and over again. I sure hope there's some new episodes by then.