Parents to United Airlines: No Media Violence on Overhead Screens

Boston-(ENEWSPF)- The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is calling on United Airlines to stop showing PG-13 movies on its overhead in-flight monitors. Earlier this year, parents on a United flight from Denver to Baltimore asked the flight crew to turn off a nearby monitor because they didn’t want their sons—ages 4 and 8—to watch Alex Cross, rated PG-13 for “violence including disturbing images, sexual content, language, drug references, and nudity.” The result? The flight crew refused to honor the parents’ request—and the captain diverted the flight to Chicago for "security concerns." Then the parents were questioned by law enforcement before they were allowed to board a new flight. In the wake of this disturbing incident, the airline is reviewing its in-flight entertainment policies. CCFC has launched a letter-writing campaign urging United to institute a policy of no PG-13 movies on publicly-visible overhead screens.

“For parents who travel with young children, being unable to escape from violent media is an all-too-familiar experience,” said CCFC’s Director Dr. Susan Linn. “Flying with young children is a challenge in any case. But parents should be able to fly United or any airline knowing their children will be not be exposed to disturbingly violent images.”

Alex Cross features “a homicide detective (who) is pushed to the brink of his moral and physical limits as he tangles with a ferociously skilled serial killer who specializes in torture and pain.” Even the film’s director has expressed shock and disappointment that United showed his movie on its overhead monitors. For years, parents and advocates have urged United to stop showing violent PG-13 movies on overhead screens, but the airline has brushed aside their concerns.

The parents involved are also urging United to make real changes. In a letter to The Atlanticthey wrote:

Of even greater concern is United’s decision to inflict upon minors grossly inappropriate cinematic content, without parents or guardians having the ability to opt out. Had this been in a cinema or a restaurant, we would have simply left if the content were too violent, or too sexual, for a preschooler and a 2nd grader. Cruising at 30,000 feet, leaving was not an option.

“As a leader, United Airlines can and should do better by parents and children,” said Jesse Kalisher of KidSafeFilms, a group that has lobbied both the airline industry and legislators to create family-friendly sections where no media violence would be shown on overhead monitors. “It’s unfortunate that after all these years it still took an incident like this to get United to review its policies. Pledging to keep violence off overhead screens in the future would go a long way to restoring both the rights of parents and the trust of all Americans.”

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is a national coalition of health care professionals, educators, advocacy groups and concerned parents who counter the harmful effects of marketing to children through action, advocacy, education, research, and collaboration among organizations and individuals who care about children. CCFC is a project of Third Sector New England (