Is JetBlue’s IFE Personalization Scary?
JetBlue is the subject of much criticism for its attempt to customize seatback entertainment screens. While personalization is generally seen as a positive, maybe this is where it crosses the line.
JetBlue TV screens greet you by name
@WandrMe Tweeted about the Airbus A220 JetBlue’s maiden flight from Boston to Tampa, noting how each screen showed the first name of the passenger assigned to that seat.
The screen displays “Hi, [first name]! Then there is a prompt asking you to confirm that this is you:
- If you state that it is not you, the prompt disappears
- If you declare that it is you, you have the option to enter your name and date of birth; I’m assuming that in theory there may be future opportunities for customization by linking your TrueBlue account etc, although it’s not entirely clear what the benefit is at this time.
The personalized IFE experience on the @thalesgroup The AVANT platform is pretty cool. Watching Yamila walk up a few rows to see that for the first time was fun. She was really impressed. #paxex pic.twitter.com/wO2Zi7fz7N
– Seth Miller (@WandrMe) April 26, 2021
@WandrMe even notes how “watching Yamila go up a few rows higher seeing than the first time was fun,” which may perhaps address some people’s concerns.
There are dozens and dozens of responses, and they’re almost entirely negative.
I’m just going to note that I would really prefer the IFE seat back not to display my name in big letters for my seat mates to read.
Guess it wasn’t designed by a woman who asked a man to spend the whole flight talking to her when she just wanted to work. https://t.co/euYoEFRld5
– Wendy Knox Everette (@wendyck) April 26, 2021
Hi @JetBlue, rethinking my travel plans with you. I don’t want my name displayed to other passengers. It’s a security issue. https://t.co/6LQYnFHVc1
– Sarah (@apiary) April 28, 2021
Is this type of personalization problematic?
We always hear from airline executives talking about how they want to create a more personalized experience, but suffice it to say, it’s probably not the kind of personalization people were asking for. Although JetBlue is the first airline in the United States to do so, it is not the first airline in the world, as Air New Zealand has also personalized inflight entertainment in the past.
People on Twitter are expressing a variety of concerns, although the most common seem to be:
- Women have to deal with a lot more monsters on planes than men, and now in addition to being stuck next to a stranger, they will potentially be called by name.
- Many people don’t use their legal first name, prefer to just use another name, or are trans and haven’t legally changed their last name yet.
I think these are very valid points, and I have a few other things to add.
First of all, personalization is only useful if it provides additional value to customers, something that travel brands often overlook. A computer capable of showing which person is assigned to which seat doesn’t impress me. What additional functionality is there even with this customization?
It could absolutely be useful to be able to log into your TrueBlue account through the IFE, but it should be a voluntary movement that the passenger initiates, rather than the other way around.
Given the backlash of all of this, I’m curious what you think of what I consider to be much larger privacy breaches by airlines. Ultimately, these screens show ‘just’ your first name, and you can’t find out more about someone that way (although again, I fully understand how that can make a creep even scarier). In the meantime, what about the way airlines publicly declare last names, or sometimes even full names, so that everyone can hear them?
- Airlines often call passengers at the boarding gate, sometimes stating both their first and last names twice, and then it’s pretty obvious who that person is when they step on the podium.
- In premium cabins, flight attendants are encouraged to address passengers by name, and often times you’ll have a flight attendant speaking loudly, so that everyone in a premium cabin can hear everyone’s name. world.
At a minimum, I think airlines need a better way to get their hands on people in the terminal, because announcing someone’s full name so that everyone in the area can hear it seems like a real breach of privacy, if you ask me.
At the end of the line
JetBlue is getting some backlash for the display of first names on the seatback monitors for its latest aircraft. People have privacy concerns about this, which I can’t fault them.
I think the concerns are quite valid, especially considering that as of now, that personalization isn’t actually used to personalize the experience in any meaningful way.
What do you think of JetBlue’s seatback customization – is it cool or scary?