In one study, people would rather experience pain than deal with boredom. I can replicate this experiment with my seven month old daughter. She doesn’t flinch at needles but sit her down in an empty space without some stimulation nearby and she’ll begin to wail.
I’m writing this while sitting on my second flight in a row on an Air Canada A320 that’s experiencing issues with the video system (a back of headrest type system). While it beats no system when you’re stuck without a device on a long flight, it’s definitely showing its age. There’s also a lot of physical wear, with audio jacks crackling and USB slots too loose to hold on to a cable. The screens also use TFT, which isn’t very accurate and page refresh is very slow.
This is being updated as Air Canada refreshes its fleet. However, Air Canada has likely doled out a lot of free headsets and discount vouchers due to exacerbating the boredom of its patrons. The issue isn’t with the technology not working but with expectation that it sets. If you set one up with clients and don’t meet it, it causes pain. Combine this pain of a missed expectation with that of boredom and you end up with irate passengers.
It’s unlikely mainline aircraft on leading airlines will due away with AVODs anytime soon despite bring your own device being more prevalent. New services like global airborne Internet are definitely a perk that will help with the anxiety of being unplugged for a few hours.