Inflight editor Alexander Preston summarises the latest happenings across IFEC and cabin technology.

Despite the millions of pounds airlines continue to invest in cabin interiors and new onboard services, it seems some passengers remain discontented with their own onboard experiences.

Just days ago, leisure airline issued a lifetime ban to passenger Chloe Haines and billed her more than £85,000 after her disruptive behaviour, which included attempting to open the aircraft doors during the flight, led to the flight having to be diverted from its intended destination in Dalaman in Southwest Turkey, and the RAF having to scramble two Typhoon fighters to escort the aircraft back to London Stansted.

According to Steve Heapy, CEO of and Jet2holidays: “Miss Haines’ behaviour was one of the most serious cases of disruptive passenger behaviour that we have experienced. She must now face up to the consequences of her actions, and we will vigorously pursue to recover the costs that we incurred as a result of this divert, as we do with all disruptive passengers. As a family friendly airline, we take an absolutely zero tolerance approach to disruptive behaviour, and we hope that this sobering incident, with its very serious consequences, provides a stark warning to others who think that they can behave in this fashion.”

This month, The New York Post reported on the case of a disruptive passenger aboard a Hawaiian Airlines flight from Honolulu to Seoul, South Korea, who has been ordered to pay $172,000 after the plane was forced to return to Hawaii midway through the flight.

As Mark Finlay, writing for Simple Flying, says: “While we often hear the story of what happened, we hardly ever hear about fines and jail time.”

But even the best laid plans of airlines, can be undone by their own social media channels. The regional Twitter account for Dutch airline KLM in India, @KLMIndia, put out a tweet early Wednesday morning as a follow-up to a trivia question about which seats are the safest on a plane.

“According to data studies by Time, the fatality rate for the seats in the middle of the plane is the highest,” the tweet said. “However, the fatality rate for the seats in the front is marginally lesser and is least for seats at the rear third of a plane.”  The company deleted the tweet about 12 hours later.

As KLM builds up to its 100th anniversary in October, its policy on breastfeeding has been criticised, with many pointing out the contrast to the liberal environment of Dutch society. Responding to a Facebook post from Shelby Angel, who shared her experience of breastfeeding her one-year-old on a KLM flight from San Francisco to Amsterdam, and subsequent enquires from researcher Heather Yemn, the carrier tweeted: “We would like to emphasise that breastfeeding is permitted on KLM flights. However, we strive to ensure that all of our passengers of all backgrounds feel comfortable onboard. Therefore, we may request a mother to cover herself while breastfeeding, should other passengers be offended by this.”

Later the airline added: “As an international airline company, we transport passengers with a variety of backgrounds. Not all passengers feel comfortable with breastfeeding in their vicinity and sometimes these passengers complain to the cabin staff.”

All a far cry from the onboard experience of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin 50 years ago, as they made the last minute preparations for the lunar module landing (19 July, 1969). As Armstrong told Mission Control: “We’re getting this first view of the landing approach. It looks very much like the pictures, but like the difference between watching a real football game and watching it on TV – no substitute for actually being here.”

The editor’s comment is published weekly as an accompaniment to the Inflight e-newsletter. If you do not currently receive our email updates, you can subscribe here.

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