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Airbus, Airboo

Melissa Chua | Sept. 26, 2008
Technology flopped miserably for my flight, despite that extra hour we spent in the departure hall waiting for the airline to get its act together.

It wasnt the greatest start to any holiday.

Our group of five showed up for our red-eye flight to Tokyo, only to be told, upon entering the departure hall, that the flight had been delayed for an hour.

The reason: a technical glitch with the Airbus A380s in-flight entertainment system was being fixed. Oh dear.

That said, we obediently made ourselves as comfortable as we could in the plush albeit rather cold departure hall, while fellow passengers nodded off around us, some napping with their mouths wide open.

I distinctly remember questioning why an hour had to be spent fixing a multimedia system that would hardly be used anyway, seeing as sleep, not entertainment, is usually the prized commodity on a red-eye flight. A sentiment Im sure my fellow travellers shared.

Meanwhile, the luminescent numbers on the digital clock by the departure gate seemed to take an age before it showed 12:40am…the scheduled time for departure, delay inclusive.

Singapore Airlines delivered as promised. We boarded on schedule and settled ourselves down to sleep.

However, sleep lasted no longer than a couple hours each time. The A380s seats, though relatively spacious, proved way too firm to provide for a comfortable nights sleep.

Most gave up the sleep endeavour about four hours into the six hour flight, which left us with a good two hours to play with the entertainment system wed waited an hour for.

What a disappointment that turned out to be.

The A380s in-flight entertainment system, built by Panasonic and running on a Red Hat-based Linux operating system, appeared impressive. In addition to the larger screen, the in-flight suite comprised a wide variety of games, movies, and music. Enough to keep anyone in the family entertained (except perhaps infants). There was also office application software on-hand, for those who cant leave their work behind.

All this comes to naught, however, if the system doesnt work properly, and this proved to be the case for most of the consoles in my section.

Movies would hang 14 seconds into the show, only to resume 10 seconds later. Games stalled midway after about five minutes of play, sometimes never to resume. Music was made available for selection by the album, complete with cover art; but what use is that if theres no sound coming out from the headphones? (I assure you the problem did not lie with the headphonesI tried three different sets, supplied by an ever helpful Singapore Girl)

I took some pictures of the hang-ups, seeing as I had no other source of entertainment. They say a picture speaks a thousand words, I have three. 


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