How Emirates Has Led The Way In Making Inflight Entertainment More Accessible

How Emirates Has Led The Way In Making Inflight Entertainment More Accessible

Emirates has long been the industry’s trendsetter.

Emirates is renowned for its luxury and has earned a reputation as a top-tier full-service carrier due to its dedication to satisfying passengers’ needs and providing comfort and style.

Not surprisingly, Emirates has long been a leader in enhancing the in-flight entertainment experience for its passengers and, perhaps more significantly, making it more inclusive and accessible to a broader public.

Pioneers in closed captioning

Today, the availability of closed captioning and subtitling technology on in-flight entertainment systems has become an expected feature and an integral part of any modern in-flight entertainment system.


But until 2007, none of the airlines worldwide had a subtitling option on their inflight entertainment systems. However, that changed after the UAE-based Emirates introduced closed captioning and subtitling technology, with the ability to embed captions in up to 12 languages in addition to the original language.


Photo: Emirates

As well as showing the actors’ dialogues in subtitles, closed captions include references to sound effects used in the movie.

Introducing closed captioning and subtitling on movies meant that inflight entertainment became more inclusive to hard-of-hearing or deaf passengers. Commenting on the new technology, Patrick Brannelly, Emirates Vice President, Passenger Communications & Visual Services, said at the time:

“We endeavor to make these offerings accessible to the diverse group of travelers flying with us. Helping develop ‘on-demand’ closed captioning and subtitle technology allows us to offer our passengers more control over their entertainment choices.”

Closed captions for movies and TV programs on aircraft have become a go-to feature for many passengers, including hearing passengers. With the noise aboard the aircraft, it can often be challenging to hear quieter programs without increasing the maximum volume. As such, many hearing passengers prefer to use closed captions to enhance their in-flight entertainment experience while also protecting their hearing.

Audio Description for movies

In another industry first, the Dubai-based Emirates became the​​ first airline to introduce Audio Description for movies for customers with visual difficulties on its inflight entertainment system in 2014.

Audio Description is an optional narration that describes what is happening on screen, including scene changes, costumes, facial expressions, settings, and physical actions. Commenting on the introduction of the audio Description, Brannelly at the time said:

“Our focus is not just the depth and diversity of our on-board entertainment, but also relevance. Making entertainment accessible to our diverse customers is very important to us. It was our motivation to introduce movies that can be enjoyed by customers with visual difficulties.

“Our greatest satisfaction comes from delivering an exceptional customer experience, which we hope our constant innovation fulfills. In the future, we want to add more content with Audio Description, so visually impaired passengers can be entertained with an even wider choice of content when flying with us.”

Emirates first class inflight entertainment system

Photo: Emirates

Every so often, people without visual difficulties also use Audio Description, allowing individuals to experience video content without actually viewing it.