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Recently I was flying on a middle-eastern airline, which offered "gate-to-gate" in-flight entertainment (IFE). I started watching a film shortly after getting to my seat. Once everyone was on board, the IFE was paused to show quite a lengthy and stylised Safety Briefing Video in English. All fine and as expected, no complaints there!

Once that had finished, about 30 seconds later they paused the IFE again, and re-showed the lengthy video in Arabic. Being a middle-eastern airline, that does make sense for their local customers! Personally though, I don't speak or read any Arabic, so I didn't gain anything from it... However, I couldn't seem to skip it either.

When an announcement / video / etc is shown in multiple times in multiple languages, what's the reason why the Aircraft IFE won't let you skip subsequent languages that you don't speak/understand?

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    For the same reason why it won't let you skip it altogether, even though you've probably seen it a 1000 times. – JonathanReez Jan 19 '17 at 7:36
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    I can live through the multiple safety announcements, no need for me to fire up a movie the moment I sit down. But I wish we could opt out of the promotional chit chat later on, the cabin attendants talking about frequent flyer programs, duty free sales announcements, the co-pilots weather report, etc – user13044 Jan 19 '17 at 8:05
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    Be happy it was only shown twice. Air Canada once treated me to four languages, for every single announcement. – O. R. Mapper Jan 19 '17 at 8:08
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    @Tom: Personally, I don't have to "fire up a movie the moment I sit down", either. However, with some 3 or 4 hours of a boring flight remaining and some interesting-looking movies available, I would like to have an estimate on whether I can finish a movie I start at that point, or whether a seemingly endless chain of announcements about the weather, duty and immigration rules and procedures at the destination, transit info, etc. in > 2 languages will block the in-flight entertainment for a considerable amount of time. – O. R. Mapper Jan 19 '17 at 8:14
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    Possibly just a matter of development process and technical constraints, together with some safety and regulatory requirements? A basic override is simpler than making sure you have seen at least one of these videos, providing a UI specifically for that, testing and certifying the whole thing, etc. – Relaxed Jan 19 '17 at 11:16
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In an ideal world, the company would know your primary language and only show it on the IFE once you are at your seat.

The issues are the following :

  1. while the airline could guess your primary language, there could always be exceptions and mistakes when you guess rather than you ask. And then for privacy protection reason, some people might not want to have this information stored on the company servers.
  2. these are security details and the company is forced by law to show them to the passengers. I am not 100% sure but I think they have to show it in the company default language, also probably in English and the end destination target language.
  3. when it comes to security, you'd better be on the safe side and tell things twice rather than once or none. So they prefer to be sure that everybody gets it.

People flying frequently perfectly know those security details. Still, they are forced to listen to it. Maybe one day, it will help them, you never know :)

  • "some people might not want to have this information stored on the company servers" - I'd bet that information is already (at least optionally) stored. Note how passenger-specific announcements in airports often come only in one language and how multilingual flight attendants sometimes seem to have a list that tells them which language to use at each seat. – O. R. Mapper Jan 19 '17 at 8:28
  • You are right, I guess they have the right information for 95% of the passengers. But there is still an error margin for some of these. And then, there is definitely a disconnect between what is on the server and what is on the IFE. The plane broadcast system isn't yet connected to the company server on that front :) – Laurent Jan 19 '17 at 8:47
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    No need to access personal details for such a service, most IFEs already let you select language, so simply play the sound track appropriate to the language selected. Of course this then requires everyone to have their headphones on. – user13044 Jan 19 '17 at 10:00
  • ...and know how to use the IFE, and have the IFE functioning. – Burhan Khalid Jan 19 '17 at 20:31

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