Maps, the Most Popular Elements of In-flight Entertainment Systems, Are About To Get a Big Upgrade — and Some Ads

The in-flight moving map, object of fascination for travel geeks and impatient fliers, is going in a new direction. But have your credit card ready: The beloved map will become one more revenue-generator for airlines [Editor’s note: the link may be paywalled.], reports the Wall Street Journal. From the story: Maps are the most popular elements of in-flight entertainment systems, capturing passenger attention by posting live updates about a trip, most importantly when you’ll arrive. Airlines offer movies, TV shows, podcasts and games on entertainment systems, but the boring map, which made its debut over 30 years ago, turns out to be the most useful, maybe even anxiety-reducing, focus of bored passengers. The map gives you a sense of control, showing not only exactly where you are, but altitude, airspeed, time zone, temperature, distance traveled and miles left to go. For some, there’s a sense of adventure built in: You may never visit the Faeroe Islands, but you feel like you’ve been there when your flight draws a line over them.

Now manufacturers are giving maps a makeover. You’ll be able to get encyclopedic details on Mount Fuji as you fly past, track your spouse’s flight from your seat and zoom in for details on points of interest like the top 10 rides at Disneyland compiled from social media. The map will be loaded with data about your flight, down to which languages flight attendants onboard speak, when dinner will be served and how long you’ll be in Brazilian airspace. And guess what? Airlines will be using the maps to sell you things like tickets to those popular amusement park rides. Hotels, theme parks, restaurants or other attractions may be throwing advertising onto your route. Shopping malls and stores, too. After all, they know where you’re going.

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