It cost around $15,000 per seat to install the systems at that time. Image Credit: Dubai Media Office

Dubai-based airline Emirates on Monday marked 30 years since it introduced in-sky entertainment across its fleet. It was in 1992 when the airline took the decision to install TV screens in all seats across all cabin classes, a move that shaped traveller expectations and the inflight entertainment industry in the decades to come.

Today, Emirates’ passengers can look forward to large, ultra-high definition 4k screens, with faster and improved Wi-Fi connectivity once the airline takes delivery of its new fleet.

Patrick Brannelly, Emirates’ Senior Vice President Retail, IFE & Connectivity said: “When Emirates introduced personal screens on every seat back in 1992, it was considered a massive industry innovation. Other airlines questioned the sense of this huge investment, estimated at about $15,000 per seat at that time.

“But we quickly realised that our customers loved being entertained throughout the flight. It made their journeys feel shorter and fostered customer satisfaction and loyalty. Within a year, we were working to expand the content choice to 20 channels on Emirates’ Boeing 777s which were to join our fleet in 1996.”

“Emirates has led in the inflight connectivity space too, from the introduction of satellite phones in 1993 to becoming the first to install systems that enabled mobile phones to be used on aircraft,” he added.

Emirates’ inflight entertainment system, originally launched in 2003 with 500 channels, today offers every passenger over 5,000 channels of on-demand movies, music, TV shows, box sets and documentaries, in over 40 languages. The total accumulated hours of entertainment includes over 3,900 hours of movies and TV, and over 3,300 hours of music and podcasts. An Emirates passenger would have to fly over 500 times from Dubai to Sydney in order to consume the entire library.