Where are they now? (or, "I saw this on a plane once and LOVED it!")

I don’t know what kind of plane it was, I probably would have made note of it, but I thought this was such a brilliant idea that surely I’d being seeing this kind of a thing more often in the years to come. Well, that was three or four years ago and I haven’t seen it again since.

Anyway, there was a little monitor on the back of one of the seats of the row in front of me. This was not the monitor used for the movie, rather it just had simple images and graphics showing news updates, and weather, and stocks and what-not, and it also showed something else that I absolutely LOVED!

They showed a map that represented the area being traveled, with a graphic showing where the plane was while en route! It was great! As I traveled from Los Angeles to New Orleans, I knew exactly when I had gotten through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, I could see Louisiana approaching. It even alternated from a wide shot of the plane between Los Angeles and New Orleans to a closer shot of the plane within the surrounding counties of whatever State we happened to be over! As well as a constantly updated ETA!

This GREATLY reduced my “Gosh, how much longer now?” fidgetiness. So, what’s the deal?
Was this something they were just testing out and did they conclude: bienville is the only person in the world who likes this, so we’re scrapping the whole program!
Or does it still exist, but only on a very few number of planes?
Is there anyone making new planes that still include this feature?
Will I ever have the pleasure of this experience again?

B.A. had this permanently on one of their channels when I went to Dubai last month. I imagine they have the same thing on all of their routes.

It’s still out there. It just depends on the airline and the specific airplane that you fly on.

My airline has this, but only on newer aircraft (like the 737 NG and 777). Older airplanes without an integrated IFE (In-Flight Entertainment) System will not have this.

So you must have an airplane with an advanced navigation system (to accurately display the position), an in-flight entertaiment system that can display the info, and an airline willing to pay for all of this.

They are VERY cool, and I expect them to be become more common as the industry recovers and has some cash to spend on entertainment systems.

Oh, darn! that will take all the fun out of sitting by a window with a map…! :smiley:

Odd - this set-up seems pretty much standard on scheduled flights in my experience. I assumed almost all airlines had it.

I agree it’s cool. However it does bring home how BIG the world is. I watched the map display (not for the whole time though…) on a flight from London to Bangkok. After about five hours, which is quite long enough to share a metal tube with a couple of hundred other people, I looked at the screen and was dismayed to see that we were still somewhere near the Black Sea :frowning:

I’ve always seen that on Airbus jets, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it on a Boeing jet (I don’t believe I’ve been on a 777 yet). Maybe that’s just random chance, of course.

I’ve done quite a few long international flights between Europe and Australia, and North America and Australia, and all of them had this feature. It seems to be standard on 747s.

Imagine being on a non-stop flight from L.A. to Melbourne (Australia, not Florida). Fifteen and half hours or so in the air, in coach. I stopped looking after a while because it was too depressing to see the apparently miniscule progress across the Pacific.

FWIW, I have seen this on each of the 747 flights I’ve been on in recent years that have lasted 6-7 hours or longer. I think these were all 747-400 jets (the LA-Melbourne one was a 747-400 Long Reach, IIRC). These are relatively new planes are they not?

Interesting little anecdote - when flying between New Delhi and Paris a couple years back, Air France did not show the plane’s progress, airspeed, etc. while we were flying in the vicinity of Afghan airspace.

Definitely depends on the airline and their equipment. I was on a cross-country Delta flight about three months ago, and while it wasn’t on personal seat-back monitors, they did have real-time maps and little trivia bits.

Northwest, OTOH, has nothing on their Boeing or Airbus jets. Not even movies.

I dont think I’ve ever been in an airplane with a TV system that DIDN’T have this feature.

I think it’s more a function of airline than airliner. Song, which seems to use either all 757s or 767s (I forget which), had these as well as a music trivia game and what seemed like live tv broadcasts on it’s flights. (Just give us Dopers trivia and we can be happy for hours). Most if not all international flights I’ve been on for the past five years seem to have had these, and I’ve flown Boeing and Airbus on Korean Air, Thai Airways, Singapore Air, KLLM, British Air, SwissAir, Lufthansa, LAN Chile, Air France, Delta, Northwest, USAirways, etc. Delta has this on all or most of their international flights, but not on most of their domestic flights. I even recall on one flight there was a nose camera on the plane with a live feed to your inseat screen, although I also heard that one was nixed. The best thing of those position tracking systems is watching the little plane spin around on the ground when you are taxiing for takeoffs, although this is only available if they leave it running during those parts of the flight.

When flying with Emirates from the UK to Dubai last summer they had this feature as well as live feeds from forward and downward facing cameras. Now that was cool when coming in to land!

I flew bmi (lower case theirs, not mine!) from Dulles to Manchester a few weeks ago, and they had both the nose and downward-facing cameras. Very neat. In mid-Atlantic, I was astonished to see another plane directly below us, on exactly the same course, slowly overtaking us. Does that actually happen, and did I actually see that, or was whoever programmed the entertainment system having some fun at the passengers’ expense?!

There’s a story from about 3 years ago of a plane (a 737?) that landed at the wrong airport in western Europe (perhaps Belgium). This plane was equipped with the cabin navigation display, and there were thus only two people on board who were not aware that they had landed at the wrong place: the pilot and the copilot.

Yes, you actually saw that. You’d be amazed at the number of aircraft crossing the Atlantic at any one time. To deal with the amount of traffic we have the NATs or North Atlantic Tracks. Every day the NATs change, mostly due to wind. Going eastbound (toward Europe) the tracks favor the biggest tailwinds. Going westbound (toward the US) the tracks favor the area with the least wind (since it’s a headwind). There are usually five or six tracks, separated laterally by 60 miles. Vertical separation is only 1000’ along the tracks. Aircraft have to meet specific tolerances to fly on the NATs (Both MNPS and RVSM: Minimum Navigation Performance Specs and Reduced Vertical Separation Minimums). This means that the aircraft can navigate along the intended course and maintain altitude precisely.

That long-winded answer means that yes, you can have an aircraft directly above or below you on the NATs. I’ve had a 747 overtake me while 1000’ above me - quite impressive to see it show up overhead and slowly inch forward.

To defend NWA, that statement is wrong. I’m sure it was true on the flight you were on, but they certainly have plenty of new planes with the most advanced in-flight entertainment systems available. I’m sure it’s true of every airline - the older planes lag behind in the latest comforts.

I flew China Southern last year. Not only did every passenger have the seatback video map thingit, but it was also in-flight entertainment – you could choose from over a dozen video channels (plus movies), music videos, or play computer games.

Considering it was a 14 hour flight, it was very welcome. Never bothered to look at the map, myself. :wink:

In May I flew from San Francisco - via - Atlanta to Barcelona, on Delta. They didn’t show the in-flight stuff across the US, but then they turned it on when we flew to Spain. I wondered why they wouldn’t bother to let us see it across the US, since it was the same damn plane.

It was a little confusing to not be paying attention, then look up at the monitor and see that were were over Nova Scotia! “Why were we all the way up there? No wonder this is a 14 hour flight” :slight_smile:

From Seat Guru’s description of NWA’s Airbus A320:

They do have some brand-new A330s, apparently for overseas routes that do have all the spiffy goodies, though.