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AirAfreak
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IFE: pre-AVOD/PTV

Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:36 am

Wikipedia + Google have yet to answer my questions regarding the inflight movie selection process pre-9/11, PTV, AVOD, etc., ...

For example, as a frequent traveler onboard PAN AM PA60/61 between Frankfurt and Washington/Dulles & v.v. throughout the 80’s, it was strange how different films were shown on the main screen within the different distinctions of Economy Class:

+ Economy Class: “A Fish Called Wanda.”
+ Cabin Class: “The Big Blue”

Who? How? Why?

Another example, for comparison, would be two flights within one summer where each of my AF A340 flights from IAD-CDG and IAD-NTE (Charter) showed the movie, “Nell,” across both Economy Cabins on the main screen.


Who makes the decisions here? Does anyone have any personal experiences to share or insight regarding IFE?
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Polot
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Re: IFE: pre-AVOD/PTV

Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:38 am

Just depends on what tapes they had and how many. Usually things were switched in the reverse direction so everyone had a chance to see all the same movies in a round trip.
 
Fuling
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Re: IFE: pre-AVOD/PTV

Fri Jun 26, 2020 11:42 am

Polot wrote:
Just depends on what tapes they had and how many. Usually things were switched in the reverse direction so everyone had a chance to see all the same movies in a round trip.


ANA still does this with their domestic fleet actually. It's just 2 different travel shows though, one on the odd flight numbers and the other on even flight numbers. Each show lasts a month.
 
USAirALB
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Re: IFE: pre-AVOD/PTV

Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:29 pm

Years ago, it was also somewhat common for airlines to broadcast news programs in flight that were updated once or twice daily.

US used to broadcast Fox News on their drop down LCD monitors on their shuttle flights that was updated twice daily. Not sure how it worked, but I’m guessing programs were downloaded into tapes/disks and then were switched out halfway through the day.
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openskies88
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Re: IFE: pre-AVOD/PTV

Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:31 pm

At my airline, we had a few A330s (2000 builds) which had a very old IFE system. They were cassettes for each channel, with each deck having to be individually started and then rewound once the channel would finish playback.

There was no way to isolate certain channels to either business or economy class.
 
MIflyer12
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Re: IFE: pre-AVOD/PTV

Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:55 pm

AirAfreak wrote:

Who makes the decisions here? Does anyone have any personal experiences to share or insight regarding IFE?


U.S. carriers used a licensing service that made a library of tapes available - and cleaned up some content. Monthly - in the in-flight magazine - DL/AA/UA/NW/CO/TW would announce what they would be showing in each direction, typically by geography: USA-Europe, USA-Asia, USA-S America, etc. It sounds like your Pan Am aircraft had more than one playback system. Pneumatic headsets! https://apex.aero/2019/02/21/sound-tube ... e-headsets

An FA inserted the tape and hit the button.

In the late 90s (and beyond) DL and UA were using Sony Hi8 tapes in long-haul Business and First with portable players, or players built into seats. After that was at-seat video screens (but not AVOD) like the NW A330s of 2003+ (and, IIRC, the systems of the first DL 764s and 777s). Then followed AVOD. Then followed AA deciding that people didn't need AVOD - they could watch content on their 4" iPhone screens.
 
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Re: IFE: pre-AVOD/PTV

Fri Jun 26, 2020 2:41 pm

First IFE systems I remember were the 1980s era projection screens with the pneumatic tube headsets, with the volume and channel controls in the seat arm rest. Flew a number of AA DC-10s and NW DC-10s in that era. They also had the overhead light control button in the arm rest and it was easy to bump by accident and it had a bit of a delay from the time you pressed it until it turned the light on/off.

The movie guide was in the inflight-magazine, and grouped by geography and direction. I always remember as a kid/teenager how exciting it was as soon as you boarded and sat-down to open up the in-flight magazine to see what movies would be shown on your flight, and on the return. Now the funny part was if you trip spanned across calendar months you had no idea what you would be seeing on your return trip until you got on that flight and they had the new month's schedule. My dad flew a lot for business in that era and sometimes he would spoil it if he had a trip earlier and would tell us what we'd be seeing on our upcoming flight.
 
StinkyPinky
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Re: IFE: pre-AVOD/PTV

Fri Jun 26, 2020 2:56 pm

These 1980s seatback screens on VS are pretty spectacular, offering 6 channels of recorded VHS content.

Image
https://blog.virginatlantic.com/cabin-avionics-20-years-caring-entertainment-systems/
 
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fbgdavidson
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Re: IFE: pre-AVOD/PTV

Fri Jun 26, 2020 2:57 pm

USAirALB wrote:
Years ago, it was also somewhat common for airlines to broadcast news programs in flight that were updated once or twice daily.


British Airways still offer this, or they have up until recently. BBC News being their source. I generally avoid IFE...

I still remember back when, in First, BA had individual films on tape that could be inserted into the seat and played. It was selection beyond the typical PTV IFE and there was a menu with the options. IIRC, it was called "First View" or something like that and was offered until the late 2000s. The previous generation First seats (that were replaced starting in 2010) had the players built into the seat.
Last edited by fbgdavidson on Fri Jun 26, 2020 3:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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USAirALB
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Re: IFE: pre-AVOD/PTV

Fri Jun 26, 2020 3:00 pm

US was actually the first airline to introduce A330 across on TATL routes back in 2000. The system was Sony [email protected] IIRC it was the last IFE system Sony manufactured before selling their IFE business to Rockwell Collins. It was a decent system and relatively fast. Only negative was that it lacked a moving map feature.
MIflyer12 wrote:
Pneumatic headsets!

DL actually still used them up until 2001-2003 or so. They were still being used domestically on their 738s/757s.
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DeltaRules
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Re: IFE: pre-AVOD/PTV

Fri Jun 26, 2020 4:39 pm

USAirALB wrote:
US was actually the first airline to introduce A330 across on TATL routes back in 2000. The system was Sony [email protected] IIRC it was the last IFE system Sony manufactured before selling their IFE business to Rockwell Collins. It was a decent system and relatively fast. Only negative was that it lacked a moving map feature.
MIflyer12 wrote:
Pneumatic headsets!

DL actually still used them up until 2001-2003 or so. They were still being used domestically on their 738s/757s.


We flew PHL-CDG-PHL in 2000 on an A330 and, when the CSR told us over the phone the planes had on-demand entertainment, I had no idea what they were talking about. We got on the plane a few weeks later and my mind was blown.

[email protected] also, for whatever reason, didn't include a safety video feature. The demo on the A330-300s was done manually (at least in the early 2000s).
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USAirALB
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Re: IFE: pre-AVOD/PTV

Fri Jun 26, 2020 4:44 pm

DeltaRules wrote:
USAirALB wrote:
US was actually the first airline to introduce A330 across on TATL routes back in 2000. The system was Sony [email protected] IIRC it was the last IFE system Sony manufactured before selling their IFE business to Rockwell Collins. It was a decent system and relatively fast. Only negative was that it lacked a moving map feature.
MIflyer12 wrote:
Pneumatic headsets!

DL actually still used them up until 2001-2003 or so. They were still being used domestically on their 738s/757s.


It also, for whatever reason, didn't include a safety video feature. The demo on the A330-300s was done manually (at least in the early 2000s).

I think that was because US opted not to add supplemental video monitors on the A333 initially, hence the safety demo would have to be done manually in F/J and at the bulkhead/exit rows in Y. The system did have the option to "take-over" and broadcast video announcements, as I remember an arrival video being screened before arrival. So I'm sure if it had the ability to do that, it likely had the ability to screen a safety video.

Once the A333s were retrofitted with the Envoy Suite, supplemental video screens were added and US introduced a safety video for the A330.

I also recall that UAs international 3-cabin 777/763/744 also did not have a safety video due to the lack of supplemental video screens in the premium cabins. Once the IPTE retrofit was installed, J/F now had video screens that didn't have to be stowed for take off and a safety video was introduced.

IIRC, US was the only airline to install Sony's system in all classes. I know AC had it for J on their A343s and/or A333s at one point.
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DL_Mech
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Re: IFE: pre-AVOD/PTV

Sat Jun 27, 2020 2:41 am

1970s and 80s video entertainment consisted of film projectors loaded with a cassette of one film. You typically saw a van pull up to the jetway and the guy would deliver the headsets in large mail sacks and swap out the film cassettes for the flight. On TWA, some zones had family-friendly films while other zones had “mature” entertainment. Picture quality on the projectors was very good, much better than the Beta and VHS tapes that followed.
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