It might not make passengers feel any better about their privacy, but at least now the secret is out in the open. Seatback screens on United and Delta Airlines have built-in cameras though both airlines claim the cameras are not active. The cameras, primarily found in screens in premium economy class, were included by the manufacturer of the entertainment systems as a standard feature for potential video conferencing, though a United spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that the airline has “no plans to use them in the future.”
In a statement, Panasonic — the manufacturer of these entertainment systems — said it “will never activate any feature of functionality with an IFE system without explicit direction from an airline customer” and that “the cameras have simply been included to support potential future applications like seat-to-seat video conferencing.” The airlines confirm this statement, assuring passengers the cameras have never been used, and there are no plans to use them in the future.
Despite these assurances, some passengers are already expressing their concerns on Twitter.
As a general answer to the question of what I got to hide? My privacy.
Do I expect to have the same level of privacy in an aircraft like I have at home, ofc not. Still wish not to be monitored if possible
— DaCoolX (@DaCoolX) February 19, 2019
Regardless of airline promises, in an age where a premium is placed on privacy, passengers are always likely to be wary of the possibility (however small) of being secretly filmed.
H/T: BuzzFeed News