Travelers are raising concerns about their privacy while flying after a tweet from Vitaly Kamluk featuring the above image went viral on Twitter. Image: Vitaly Kamluk

APEX has identified several potential use cases of in-flight cameras, emphasizing that they must only be used with advance explicit passenger permission.

Carriers including American Airlines and Singapore Airlines have been facing criticism over the presence of cameras in seatback in-flight entertainment (IFE) screens after a tweet from a Singapore Airlines passenger went viral.

In response to an increasing number of questions about passenger privacy, American Airlines spokesperson Ross Feinstein told Buzzfeed, “Cameras are a standard feature on many in-flight entertainment systems used by multiple airlines. Manufacturers of those systems have included cameras for possible future uses, such as hand gestures to control in-flight entertainment.”

However, like Singapore Airlines, Feinstein confirmed the cameras on American Airlines aircraft are currently disabled and that there are no plans to use them in the near future.

Today, the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) issued a press release in support of its airline and supplier members, stating that, while not in use by airlines today, in-flight cameras will enable improved passenger service in the future. The association added that airlines must only ever use cameras with advance explicit passenger permission each time.

“With explicit customer permission, airlines will be able to provide better service and safety to their passengers using new technology.” – Joe Leader, APEX CEO

“Since the advent of the smartphone a decade ago, airlines realized that they need to be thinking ahead to serve the future travel experience,” APEX CEO Dr. Joe Leader said. “The systems selected years ago are now on aircraft today and in many cases will be on aircraft for the next decade. With explicit customer permission, airlines will be able to provide better service and safety to their passengers using new technology.”

APEX has identified several possible applications of seatback cameras including visual communication with flight attendants; detection of dehydration, irregular pulse or illness; and interface control using eye movement.

Dr. Leader will address this issue during the keynote opening of Aviation Festival Asia in Singapore this week and in greater detail at APEX Asia in Shanghai on Tuesday, March 12.