Game of Thrones, nudity and inflight entertainment

By David Flynn, February 14 2014
Game of Thrones, nudity and inflight entertainment

There are three things you need to know about Game of Thrones.

First, it’s incredibly popular, with each episode generating enormous buzz in the real world and online alike. 

Second: that popularity extends to Game of Thrones being the world’s most pirated TV show (more than one million people downloaded the Season 3 finale the day after it screened), although you can also download it through legitimate means via Apple’s iTunes Store.

Finally, this TV adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s best-selling multi-volume fantasy epic includes quite a bit of full-frontal nudity.

It also happens that Game of Thrones is a hit with travellers, who queue up the latest episodes on their laptop or tablet as ‘BYO inflight entertainment’.

In turn, that raises the issue of what’s appropriate inflight viewing in this day when passengers no longer rely on an airline’s own selection of movies piped to small seatback screens.

In the closed confines of an aircraft cabin your seatmates, across-the-aisle neighbours and others walking back and forth can see what you’re watching. Should you take them into consideration when planning your personal in-flight viewing?

After all, many an airlines’ own choice of inflight programming includes graphic violence as well as degrees of nudity.

If that’s accepted as a benchmark, shouldn’t passengers be able to choose BYO content to a similar degree?

Here’s how a number of frequent flyers see the issue.

'Appropriate viewing'

Sydney engineer Gordon Noble says he’s recently become a Game of Thrones convert “and have been taking every spare minute to watch this brilliant fantasy medieval series.”

However, he allows that “as a responsible travelling adult, I chose not to watch Game of Thrones in case my viewing material offended other passengers."

“But what if I had chosen to watch Game of Thrones in all of its violent and nude glory?” he asks. “Would it be the responsibility of the flight attendants to become censors and tell me to turn it off, or does it become the responsibility of other passengers to ask me to turn it off directly?”

Brisbane-based financial planner Lindsay Wilson suggests that Game of Thrones and similar shows would be “appropriate if you take the correct precautions”.

This can include sitting a window seat in economy, where you can angle your iPad slightly towards the window “so as to shield from fellow passengers, particularly given the higher percentage of kids in economy.

“I've sheepishly skipped forward through a scenes in Game of Thrones while onboard” admits Sydney production designer Richard Neville, who adds that failing to do so has sometimes resulted  in “glaring looks of disapproval in economy”.

“On the other hand, it’s started conversations with fellow travellers and cabin crew in business class!”

My screen, my choice...

Not all travellers side with those who advocate a degree of self-censorship.

“If someone doesn't like what's showing on my screen, they should stop looking at my screen” states Canberra consultant Tuhin Abhyankar, who reasons there is no need “to change my viewing habits to meet the arbitrary standards others on a sealed metal tube might adhere to.”

“I didn’t hesitate at watching a few series of True Blood on my last few US trips, which were in economy and premium economy” adds Sydney-based Grant Williams.

“There are definitely quite a few death and sex scenes in them which I didn't have a problem if anyone had seen them. It’s my personal space and my choice.”

“The old 'eyes forward' rule should also come into play.”

For Simon Granville, who takes at least two domestic flights each week, it’s more a matter of avoiding inflight angst from other passengers.

“I am not worried about offending anyone. I am more worried about some do-gooder busy-body thinking that they have a right to be offended whilst snooping at what I am watching. I just don't want the debate.”

When kids are your seatmates...

For many, the decision of what to watch on your laptop or tablet is also driven by who your seatmate is.

“If you're seated next to a 10 year old kiddie who doesn't know better than to gawk at the screen (thus getting Mum and/or Dad concerned), then maybe watch something else” reasons IT consultant Chris Mainland. “You can still watch Game of Thrones later”

“But if you're in a position where any adult has to be actively and deliberately looking at your iPad screen in order to be offended, then go for it!”.

Newcastle-based medical professional Fiona Downes says she's "working my way through American Horror Story" as she travels within Australia and overseas for conferences.

“I try to be as discreet as I can with positioning my iPad at graphic scenes. If I found myself sitting next to a minor, however, I'd switch to something rated at an appropriate level for them in case they would start watching beside me.”

“But as far as I'm concerned as long as I'm watching mainstream TV shows or films then pretty much anything goes.”

What’s your take on ‘appropriate inflight viewing’ on laptops or tablets? Do you select your viewing with an eye towards fellow passengers, or is it a case of "my seat, my screen, my choice”?

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

10 Mar 2011

Total posts 526

It's a tricky one. I don't think anyone should get upset about what I am watching on my ipad so long as I have made a reasonable effort to shield any offensive material from others around me and in particular children. If someone has to make an effort to see my screen that they shouldn't be looking at anyway then they have no right to be offended by what they see. At the same time... Anything more than the odd bit of nudity would be too much to be watching in public. I don't think anything bordering on pornography is acceptable. 

Personally I think airlines do not include enough Sci Fi in their on board entertainment!

Imagine having season's worth of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Voyager and SG1 in the entertainment library.

Better yet, can you imagine the bliss of doing a Star Wars or Matrix marathon on the 14h leg to LA.

*Shiver* Heavens...


23 Jan 2013

Total posts 175

Would love some SG1 on my flights. 

I generally find TV show offerings on airlines to be poor. One simply can't just watch a couple of episodes. The entire season is necessary! 

21 Feb 2012

Total posts 40

A friend of mine was watching Air Crash Investigations while we were flying back from LA-SYD on QF12.  He was also watching GoT on the same flight, and during the rape scene (I haven't seen it so pardon my ignorance), the FA was walking past and said oooh, you're not watching something naughty are you?

I have watched Californication multiple times where there have been topless scenes, and yeah, its a bit awkward when you're sitting next to someone.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

22 Apr 2013

Total posts 143

Ohhhhh... I got caught out unawares by GoT way early on in S1 on a flight from BNE-MEL. Actually... from memory I think it was episode one.

So, the seatbelt light went out and I excitedly powered up my tablet eager to see the very first episode of the series that everyone was raving about. I was really quite enjoying it and OMG BOOBIES! BOOBIES! OH DEAR GOD BOOBIES EVERYWHERE! AGHH DWARF AND BOOBIES! OH DEAR GOOOOOOOOOOOD! ABORT! ABORT!

Of course, I was sitting on the aisle, and of course there was a pre-teen sitting opposite the aisle to me. 

I've never watched GoT in-flight again. No. 

Just boobies? When did we get puritanical in Australia?

01 Feb 2012

Total posts 370

Pretty silly for anyone to argue that its *always* ok, you wouldn't look at porn on a train or bus openly (I hope). Anyone who does it so openly that people around them can see the images would certainly be told off. 

Sure, GoT isn't hard core pornography, but its not exactly artistic nudity either. Community standards change but I think you'd have to be a pretty liberal parent to be ok with your 10 year old kid seeing some of the scenes in GoT while they're wandering down the aisle, and many conservative parents would be very concerned.

On the other hand, if you are sitting in a herringbone business class seat, your video content can be as filthy as you like. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1377

Whilst flying BA J with its weird forward/ backward setup that can give an illusion of privacy, during a night flight had a fellow passenger watching something that would make GoT fans blush...

Appropriate no, but living in an apartment complex with another one opposite, you see plenty of things everyday.

It is the concept of "community standards" that I find troubling. Does "community standards" equate to least liberal?

It is easy to come to a consensus when we cite cases of extremes. It is much harder to draw the line of what is acceptable when a benchmark has not been defined.

To that end I would rather the carrier define what is appropriate as opposed to people self-censoring.


18 Jun 2013

Total posts 3

I take the view that being an aircraft, if the airline has loaded it onto an AV system, its ok to watch. 

05 Jun 2012

Total posts 31

The classic phrase with which one responds to censorous types has long been "If you don't like it, turn it off!". It's a phrase I strongly endorse and am very much open minded about what people should be allowed to see. I think the issue in an aircraft is that other passengers simply can't "turn it off" and so there's an implicit social obligation on all passengers to consider others when it comes to their inflight entertainment, as there is in other areas such as reclining seats, armrests, et cetera.

 Aside from open and shut cases such as hardcore porn, I think there is a need to consider that an airplane, particularly in economy, is a rather cramped space where people can't just walk away and so one might need to practice some discretion. If you're able to angle away the screen, then it can be OK. If you're sandwiched in the middle seat between a couple of kids, you might have to leave GoT until you get to the hotel. Another thing is that the FAs, given that they are constantly walking the aisles, can probably see and deserve consideration given that it is a work environment. Also, what might have been OK on Qantas might not be on a carrier like Saudia.

Personly, I have no problem at all with nudity and sex scenes (rape is a different matter though). Violence though can affect me though. I remember fainting when I watched Sin City at the cinema which is an experience I wouldn't want to replicate at 40,000 ft.


19 Jun 2013

Total posts 60

I am far from being prudish, and detest the modern trend of taking offence on someone else's behalf or taking it upon onesself to alert the authorities to suspected/assumed bad behaviour. BUT... whne it comes to travel regardless of mode (the same thing applies to being on a city bus or train ride), it simply boils down to civilised behaviour and decorum, which dictates what you read, look at, volume level and content of conversation, all the way down to appropriate dress standards.

In the case of visual entertainment content when on an aircraft, be guided by the standards of the airline you are flying on, and their own inflight entertainment.  Some carriers (like some recent Delta & VA long-haul flights) leave some suggestive or (semi)nude scenes in. Others, like Singapore A/L, do not. 

Another point... back before personal entertainment possibilities like iPads, ask yourself if you did or would have opened up say, a Pix Post, Playboy, Penthouse or Hustler magazine. I don't see any difference between that and electronic personal entertainment.

09 Sep 2012

Total posts 139

Is it really a surprise that "Not all travellers side with those who advocate a degree of self- censorship" in this era?

The don't-give-a-damn crowd will watch anything they can get away with.

The question really is whether those who watch such pap want those nearby to know they're the sort of person who does so.


18 Jun 2013

Total posts 3

Have you watched the show? I would say its a little better than 'pap'

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Jan 2013

Total posts 240

This sort of debate brings up one of my favourite quotes ever. 'Stop trying to child proof the world and world proof your children'.

As a few posters have mentioned, there are some extreme areas where some discretion may be required and I agree.

Besides, when did the female body become so taboo and grotty that it was something that must be sheilded from public view!?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Jan 2013

Total posts 240

Sorry, this is my favourite:

'Imploring some people I never met to pressure a government with better things to do to punish an innocent man for doing something that nobody saw. That's what I'm doing!' - Ned Flanders

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Game of Thrones, nudity and inflight entertainment