NEW YORK – There is now another place where cameras could start watching you – from 30,000 feet.
New air conditioning systems on some airlines operated by American Airlines and Singapore Airlines have cameras, and are similarly on aircraft used by other carriers.
America and Singapore said on Friday that they have never implemented the cameras and have no plans to use.
However, companies that make the entertainment systems install cameras to offer future options such as a seated seat video video, according to American Airlines spokeswoman.
A traveler on Singapore recently posted a photo of the seating exhibition, and the tweet shared several quotes that drew attention to the media. First, Buzzfeed said the cameras were also on some American aircraft.
The airlines emphasized that they did not add the cameras – the makers had been incorporated into the entertainment systems. American systems are made by Panasonic, while Singapore uses Panasonic and Thales, according to flight representatives. Panasonic or Thales did not respond promptly for comments.
As they start, cameras are included in larger devices, including laptops and smart phones. The presence of cameras in aircraft recreation systems was known in flight circles at least two years ago, although it was not among the public that travel.
Seth Miller, a journalist who wrote about the issue in 2017, was of the view that equipment makers did not consider the privacy implications. There were cameras on the plane – although they were not as intrusive – and the companies took that passengers would trade their images for ease, as they did face-to-face identification in immigration checkpoints, he said.
"Now they face a blowback of a small but vocal group questioning the value of the system that is not even active," said Miller.
American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein said cameras were "premium economy" seats at 82 Boeing 777 and Jetbus Airbus A330-200. America has almost 1,000 aircraft.
"Cameras are a standard feature on many flight recreation systems used by multiple airlines," he said.
A spokesman for Singapore, James Boyd, said that there were cameras on 84 Airbus A350, Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 and 787s. The carrier has 117 aircraft.
Although the airlines say they have no plans to use the cameras, a Twitter user of the name Vitaly Kamluk, who fractured the camera's picture on Singapore flight, suggested that only to be Surely, the carriers should capture stickers over the lenses.
"It's likely that the cameras will not be used now," it tweeted. "But if they are wired, active, bundled with mic, it's a clear one to use on 84 aircraft and spy on passengers."