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One Possible Explanation For Why American Only Showed One Movie on a 9-Hour Flight

August 19, 2014 at 2:03 PM | by | Comments (3)

Last weekend, we flew American Airlines from Dallas-Fort Worth to Santiago. The route was serviced by a 767-300, which, due to maintenance problems, was delayed 12 hours from Thursday night to Friday morning. After we had reached cruising altitude, the flight attendants came on to explain "today's entertainment."

There were five old-school televisions on the plane, all hung up over the center row. Depending on where you were seated, you may or may not have been actually able to see one clearly – a frustration many passengers vocalized to themselves and their neighbors. I was lucky. I was sitting in a G aisle seat, about a half dozen rows back from a screen, and could see it perfectly in all its 9 by 13 inch glory.

American showed us the new "Captain America" movie, followed by a series of NBC programming with commercial breaks. It raised a question that's been floating around in my brain for awhile when it comes to overhead entertainment on long-haul routes. Why the hell would only one movie be shown on a nine-hour flight? How much could it possibly cost for American to push play on another movie or two?

Bored, I was determined to find out the answer, and so I went to the back galley and asked a flight attendant. He told me that all of American's entertainment for all flights is pre-programmed into the computer, and when they come onboard, they simply punch in the flight number and push play. In this case, he figured, since the flight was supposed to be an overnight journey the night before, only 3-4 hours of entertainment was scheduled under the assumption that most people would fall asleep after the meal service.

That's definitely an explanation that makes sense to me, although I would have to argue with the tightly regulated policy that prohibits the flight attendants from making adjustments when needed. It's one more reason to appreciate what Delta is doing with its new free entertainment systems.

Otherwise, the additional aspects of the flight with American were equally uninspiring. Once onboard, we were served a sad-looking breakfast of yogurt, a floppy croissant, and concentrated juice. Lunch was no more appealing, and rather than take our word for it, you can simply look at the photo below. One of these days, we hope to see some changes made in the American fleet and services.

[Photos: Airline Reporter/Jaunted]

Comments (3)

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1 movie? Consider yourself lucky

1 movie. That beats the 0 movies shown on my Narita to ORD AA flight this past February. After three attempts to "reboot" they VOD system, the cabin crew gave up and gave everyone an extra cup-'o-noodles to apologize.

With commercials?

They aired NBC shows WITH commercials? That is insane.

I was the purser

Dear Sir, I actually was the purser on your flight. Had I known you wanted to see another movie, I might have been able to accommodate you. Like you stated above, AA is only authorized to show one movie on that leg, but since it was a special circumstance, i.e. delayed departure till next morning, I have some flexibility in granting requests. But again, it depends on what the computer allows me to show, so it may have only been extended programing, i.e. more NBC sitcoms and not an actual movie. Whenever people fly on our 767s, they usually bring their own media device that has movies preloaded on them. It's usually a good idea to bring something like that regardless of what aircraft you fly if movies are that important to you. You might consider yourself lucky though because on our return flight to DFW on Sunday night, we diverted to Lima, Peru due to a mechanical and had to wait there almost 3 hours until the repairs were done. There were some real jerky passengers busting my chops, one Executive Platinum in particular, that I granted their request to leave the airplane to get on other flights. Like I told one passenger who was very irate with me and then later apologized, the flight attendants are on your side. We want nothing more for you to be happy mainly because you are then less of a pain in our asses. But the more rude or disrespectful you are to us, the less likely you are to get what you want. Happy travels!

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