Air India suspends inflight entertainment services

MUMBAI: Once the flights resume the subsequent block, Air india passengers will find that their back-up screens no longer play movies, TV shows, music, etc., as the airline has temporarily suspended its in-flight entertainment content services.

A letter sent by Air india inflight services to the airline cabin crew on April 29 said that due to certain technical and operational reasons the in-flight entertainment (IFE) content currently loaded onboard Air india aircraft 'is not to be played' with effect from May 1, 2020, until further instructions.

Currently, Air india and other Indian carriers have only been operating cargo flights. But once the flights resume post lockdown, it would be a double whammy for domestic passengers with no IFE and a scaled down inflight menu, what with social distancing norms to do away with hot meals and beverages on almost every airline’s domestic flights.

The letter said that on all Boeing flights an announcement should be made about no IFE before takeoff. The IFE system will be used to play the appropriate flight-related announcements, information and security audio/video only, meaning the entertainment content will not play until further notice, he added.

But contrary to what the IFE department’s letter said, an Air india spokesperson said that when we resume normal operations, we will be reactivating the in-flight entertainment, but not on our narrow body aircraft flying in the domestic sector.

When specifically asked if IFE will be available on Boeing 777 and, the spokesperson said as scheduled operations begin in international sectors ... yes.

IFE wasn't available on Air india 's Airbus fleet of aircraft, but its Boeing fleet, including and Boeing 777s that operate international flights to Singapore, Japan, Australia, China, UK, US etc offered quite a decent list of movies, TV serials and music to choose from. The Dreamliner, for instance, has IFE system equipped with large LCD display screens, controlled by tethered passenger control units with gaming capacity.

An airline source said the tender for the IFE content would have expired and, since no passenger flights are being operated, the airline would have kept the renewal on hold for now.