By Evie Carrick
May 01, 2019
Airlines In-flight entertainment screen
Credit: Getty Images

With cameras popping up everywhere these days, privacy is becoming a concern. No one likes to be watched, especially when you’re half-asleep on a 10-hour international flight with your mouth open. So when earlier this year a passenger reported seeing a tiny camera on Singapore Airlines’ in-flight entertainment screens, travelers around the world were more than a little concerned.

It turns out many airlines, include the big-three in the U.S. — American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta Air Lines – all had cameras built in to the personal entertainment screens on certain planes. The airlines said the cameras aren’t operational and aren’t being used, but after pushback from concerned travelers, the airlines are making plans to cover the in-flight seat cameras.

According to TravelPulse, United has already covered the cameras while a Delta spokesperson told BuzzFeed News on Monday that the airline has also added covers on all their cameras in order to provide “a visible way to reassure customers.” Delta re-iterated that they have no plans to install the software necessary to use them.

American Airlines also told the BuzzFeed team on Monday that they “will be installing covers over the cameras” and explained that the cameras "have always, and continue to be, de-activated."

In a statement, United explained that “As with many other airlines, some of our premium seats have in-flight entertainment systems that came with cameras installed by the manufacturer. 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.”

The in-flight entertainment screens with embedded cameras were supplied by Panasonic Avionics, a top supplier of airline entertainment systems. According to The Verge, Lisa Connell, Delta’s general manager of onboard product said that Delta is starting a new division called Delta Flight Products so they “can be more selective with what we want a product to look like and remove components that we don’t need — like cameras, in this case.”