The global gateway at 35,000 feet

I flew to Japan recently and discovered that a new entertainment system had been installed on my flight.

But what made the system worth mentioning here was what I saw when the system activated…

A global gateway, shown here:

united airlines entertainment global gateway

Global gateways, those little landing pages that ask you to select your country or language (or both, aren’t just limited to Web pages these days. Every screen is bound to feature one.

As more software is designed to be global from day one, we’ll see more of these screens.

And as global gateways go, this one was pretty good. The 15 languages were in the native script and there were no extraneous visual elements. The screen had just one purpose and one purpose only, which you don’t always find with global gateways. Some companies thrown marketing elements that actually diminish the usability of these screens.

One problem with this gateway was the fact that my language preference wasn’t captured for the duration of the flight. As I learned how to the use the interface I had to re-select my language a few times.

But what I found very interesting was that there were mini-gateways used for selected movies, as shown here:

In this case, the movie was available in several languages and I could choose which one, while still maintaining my English-language interface. I’m not sure how many people would choose a different language than their interface language, but it was still interesting to see what translation investments the studios had made on various films.

I would love to collect screen shots from other in-flight entertainment systems, to see how United’s system stacks up. If you’ve got any to share, please emal them to me.

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.

4 thoughts on “The global gateway at 35,000 feet”

  1. The only reasons I can see for allowing the user to chose languages for the film that are different to the interface language is that many users do not like dubbed films and also the choice of languages for the film selected is not as extensive as the choice for the interface. Italians, for example, would be at a distinct disadvantage and would probably chose Spanish over the English language version. But it is nice to see more and more companies taking localisation into account.

  2. It’s great to see this kind of support, but it should be noted that the Arabic is incorrect here – the order of the letters is correct but the letters are not shaped properly. Arabic letters are shaped dependent on their position relative to each other and this is not optional. All of the letters (except for the first one on the right) should be connected to each other, like this: العربية

    -Ben
    -بنيامين

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