Air Canada’s newer planes (Embraer 175s and 190s) have seat-back screens and electrical outlets. This makes me happy. I read about them in Paul Miller’s posting about his transatlantic booking, and first encountered them on my flight from Toronto to Ottawa last week. The outlet was right there beside the screen. The flight was too short and I was too tired to bother getting out the laptop, but I watched an interesting, serious movie instead of the usual Hollywood fluff: Sophie Scholl. In German, with subtitles. Watching a foreign film on a domestic flight - no sign of Adam Sandler or Jennifer Aniston - social progress really is possible! Of course, I could only watch the first half on the short flight, but I had checked in advance and knew I’d have an E190 for the four-hour Toronto/Edmonton leg on the way home - plenty of time to catch the ending (which, having checked Wikipedia, I knew would not be happy). So last night we took off on the long flight home, the seatbelt sign blinked out, and the screens started to stir. And then froze. Reboot the system; the screens darken, light up, and the system is in full swing - movies and televisual delights all around. Except on my screen. Another couple of reboots of just me, the screen freezes each time. To soothe my disappointment, the attendant gives me free wine.

OK, let’s try the laptop. The outlet isn’t beside the screen; the attendant directs my attention to a little green light down in the dark between the seats, mid-calf-height, visible if I rest my forehead against the screen (which doesn’t respond) and jackknife my neck downwards. Digital exploration (with fingers, I mean) establishes that there is an outlet there - one outlet. This could get ugly, but the woman beside me doesn’t appear to have a laptop with her, so fisticuffs aren’t needed. With a lapfull of cables I feel around with the plug. The woman shifts uncomfortably, no doubt wishing I’d keep my hands where she can see them. Finally the plug goes in and I boot up. The battery light comes on: I’m not getting power. I pull the plug out, push it in, wiggle it around, and finally get a connection. Three minutes later I’m back on battery power and can’t get reconnected. The attendant checks but there’s nothing that can be done up front to fix it. A few minutes later I get another 15 seconds of power and then nothing. I don’t see any other laptops, so I can’t prove I’ve been singled out for persecution, but the conclusion is inescapable.

Oh well. Glad it worked for Paul.