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How The Electronics Ban Could Impact In Flight Entertainment

Image of busy male typing on laptop with pretty stewardess giving glass of water to successful businessman on background

The United States instituted regulations late last month banning certain electronics on flights from the Middle East and North Africa. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that these rules require passengers flying from eight Muslim-majority countries on nine airlines to put any electronic device larger than a smart phone in their checked luggage, Mashable reports. This policy mirrors a similar move by the British Government to ban electronics as well.

These regulations challenge the changing role of in-flight entertainment systems, as more passengers have begun using their personal devices for streaming and other functions. Some airlines, such as American Airlines, have stopped including built-in video screens as part of their aircraft interior products, The Telegraph reports. Dr. Kevin Curran, aviation technology expert and professor of cyber security, told The Telegraph that this puts extra pressure on airlines.

“A lot of airlines have moved more to iPads, whether they’re expecting people to bring them or they hand out tablets or have them integrated into their consoles, though you’d think those would be given clearance,” he said. “But it’s another blow. There’s no way to spin it good for them.”

A 2013 Air Travel Survey by TripAdvisor found that 37% of passengers named an iPad or tablet as an essential carry-on item. this is up 5% from 2012. Curran said that this policy that takes away the option of carrying on these items emphasizes the importance of in-flight entertainment systems such as airplane display monitors.

“This is an opportunity for airlines to improve what they offer,” he said.

Following the announcement of the ban, Emirates posted a video on Twitter boasting their own IFE systems, Mashable. The video asks “Who needs tablets anyway?”, showing that their aircraft interior products are sufficient for passenger needs.

“Once the restrictions are implemented…these airlines’ entertainment offerings, such as movies and TV shows, will be in high demand,” Sasha Lekach of Mashable wrote following the ban. “Since most travelers depend on high-tech devices to stay entertained (or catch up on business) while flying halfway across the world, these airlines will have to step up to the task. Looks like people who need to get work done, however, are out of luck.”