Whine Wednesday: Inflight Entertainment System Disabled Due To PA Speaker Malfunction


When I took a flight on Thai Airways to Bali this week I was unfortunately confronted with what would become our Whine Wednesday topic for today: The inflight entertainment system (IFE) was down pretty much the entire flight.

In this instance it wasn’t just a regular technical error, but a malfunction of the PA system which overrides all inflight entertainment functions when activated.

Whenever the inflight entertainment is malfunctioning the crew has the option of resetting the system, either at the individual seat or on older aircraft entire blocks of seats.

In this case this didn’t help though, because the issue wasn’t with the IFE itself but with the PA system. Whenever the cabin or cockpit crew makes an announcement the entertainment is paused like it shows on the image above. This time, there was no announcement however, only a black screen for 3+ hours.

This was one of Thai Airways old Boeing 747 aircraft, which I picked deliberately because you can select a First Class seat with a Business Class ticket. Unfortunately, old planes (and sometimes new ones too) often come with mechanical problems and, in fact, Thai Airways even has a technician on board to deal with such problems.

About an hour before landing the technician actually found the problem: A short circuit in the electrical system located above the two lavatories in First Class. By the time it got fixed it was possible to watch the aircraft approaching Bali on the flight map.


This could have been many different things. No. 1 on the list was probably that one crew member didn’t properly end a PA announcement and then this station blocks the entire IFE. They did however check each individual station and found nothing.

I was quite impressed when I learned years ago that Thai has mechanics flying with them. You often see them in black/dark blue jackets sitting in Business Class. Definitely useful in case of technical issues but in this case the flight was done for by the time it was resolved.

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