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United, Delta, American among airlines with seat-back cameras

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Several of the world’s biggest airlines – including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and Singapore Airlines – have cameras installed on screens on the backs of passenger seats.

All four airlines say they have no intentions of using the technology, though. 

American Airlines told USA TODAY that manufacturers of in-flight entertainment systems have “included cameras for possible future uses such as seat-to-seat video conferencing,” adding that the camera technology has “never been activated.”

Related: Couple found hidden camera in their Carnival Cruise bedroom: ‘Our privacy had been invaded’

Delta concurred, telling USA TODAY that “they are not functional and Delta does not have any plans to install the necessary software to use them,” while United added: “Our cameras have never been activated on United aircraft.”

A passenger on a Singapore Airlines flight called attention to the cameras on his seat-back entertainment system, sparking a debate over passengers’ privacy concerns. 

Related: Are passengers to blame for poor airline service?

“Just found this interesting sensor looking at me from the seat back on board of Singapore Airlines,” Vitaly Kamluk tweeted on Feb. 16. “Any expert opinion of whether this a camera? Perhaps @SingaporeAir could clarify how it is used?”

In response, Singapore Airlines tweeted that their “newer inflight entertainment systems provided by the original equipment manufacturers do have a camera embedded in the hardware.”

“These cameras have been disabled on our aircraft, and there are no plans to develop any features using the cameras,” the company added, echoing other air carriers. 

More: Stuck on a plane: American, Delta fined for lengthy tarmac delays

All four airlines stressed that they didn’t add the cameras – manufacturers embedded them in the entertainment systems. American’s systems are made by Panasonic, while Singapore uses Panasonic and Thales, according to airline representatives.

In a statement to USA TODAY, Panasonic said they “take airline passenger privacy very seriously.”

“Panasonic Avionics will never activate any feature or functionality within an (inflight entertainment) system without explicit direction from an airline customer,” the statement read. 

Kamluk offered an easy solution: “Keep security of your passengers up! It’s best to disable these cameras physically until you decide to use them, i.e. with a simple sticker.”

Contributing: The Associated Press

Related: Southwest Airlines gets FAA approval for Hawaii flights

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Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/news/2019/03/01/some-airlines-have-cameras-installed-back-passengers-seats/3022742002/





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