United Covers Cameras Embedded in Seatback Entertainment Systems

Apr 29, 2019

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United Airlines has decided to cover all cameras installed in seatback entertainment systems on the airline’s Premium Plus seats.

Cameras in inflight entertainment systems had been stirring up heated internet conversation for quite a while now. Following a viral tweet in which a passenger spotted a camera on a Singapore Airlines flight in February, some of the world’s largest carriers including American Airlines, Delta, and of course, United, have also come out and said that they too have cameras installed on some of their seatback systems. Passengers have since been expressing their concerns with privacy on social media.

United, in a statement to TPG, said that these cameras have never been activated.

“As with many other airlines, some of our premium seats have inflight entertainment systems that came with cameras installed by the manufacturer,” said a United spokesperson. “None of these cameras were ever activated and we had no plans to use them in the future, however, we took the additional step to cover the cameras. The cameras are a standard feature that manufacturers of the system included for possible future purposes such as video conferencing.”

United has put a sticker over all the camera lenses. Sri Ray, a former site reliability engineer at BuzzFeed, photographed the blocked cameras and posted it on Twitter.

American Airlines (which has had these cameras installed since at least 2017) hasn’t released any statements on whether it has covered up the cameras, but it does say it doesn’t plan on using them. “Cameras are a standard feature on many in-flight entertainment systems used by multiple airlines,” said AA spokesperson Ross Feinstein to BuzzFeed News. “Manufacturers of those systems have included cameras for possible future uses, such as hand gestures to control in-flight entertainment.”

Featured image by Zachary Hoenig / TPG.

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