Surreal in-flight programming: For a couple of hours tonight, I sat and watched on three different cable news networks as a Jet Blue airliner flew in circles preparing for an emergency landing. Remarkably, the passengers on the flight were also able to watch at least two of the cable news broadcasts I was viewing.
I applaud the decision (or perhaps indecisiveness) of whoever was responsible for not pulling the plug on the satellite feed and to continue allowing the passengers to have the option to watch what was going on. This was an especially good decision in this case as the experts being interviewed on all of the channels were very reassuring when expressing their confidence that the plane would be landed safely. (It was.)
However, I can’t imagine a more surreal experience than to be on that plane watching the live coverage. Especially since much of the time, the coverage was split-screen with other stories, or, in the case of Fox News, an interview between Bill O’Reilly and Donald Trump. If I had been forced to watch those two, I think I’d have been asking for a parachute.
Remarkably, three of the passengers were employees of NBC-Universal and were in contact via Blackberry with MSNBC producers. Within moments of touching down, two of them were being interviewed by cell phone on MSNBC. Talk about your participatory journalism. According to them, some of the passengers stayed glued to the TV coverage while others ripped off their headphones after a while.
If I were a passenger, I would have been watching, I guarantee it. However, I would also have been flipping over to ESPN Sports Center. And screw the FAA cell-phone rules, I would have been blogging it with my Treo.
Update: Let me clarify something. Scratch the blogging. I’d be talking with my family. After landing, I’d blog. However, I’d probably still be flipping back and forth to Sports Center.