January 9th, 2013

For a while there it seemed like a personalized TV screen on the back of the seat in front of you was the new standard for air travel. It drastically changed my experience of flying, being able to zone out with whatever movie or shows I wanted. I was less aware of the ergonomic evils of the seats, the swelling of my feet, and the awkward proximity of the stranger or strangers by my side/s. A lot of things about flying were getting increasingly annoying, but this one small thing, allowing the TV to do what it does best and numb me out, was a big source of solace.

I don’t know if I spent a lucky couple of years, only landing on newer aircrafts just by accident, or if there was a backshift in the industry, but suddenly last year I found myself back in the days of shared screens playing some movie for everyone to watch together, whenever the flight attendants could be bothered to turn the things on. And more than once, let me tell you, that shared film was Ice Age II. Which, even assuming that the Ice Age series is not a piece of trash, what is the justification for playing a sequel to a randomly assembled group of travelers? Worse, though, was the day I flew internationally with an entertainment system that was broken.

As I write this I know, of course, that most of you are traveling with one or another device that allows you to play whatever you want, at any time other than takeoff and landing. I even have a couple of devices like that of my own. I don’t know why, but the effortlessness of flipping through channels on the seatback in front of me was a comfort, with no stress about battery life, plus the possibility of indulging in trash that I would never download myself. There was a certain amount of giving away of responsibility that soothed me, and that feeling was denied to me in all of my travels last year. Tomorrow I will fly for the first time in this new year. I’m really hoping I get a little screen.

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