- Airlines are beginning to remove seatback screens from aircraft.
- They’re doing this because travellers are increasingly favouring laptops, phones, and tablets to seatback screens, which are expensive and add weight to the aircraft.
- Instead, airlines are making entertainment options available to passengers on their personal devices.
Airlines are beginning to remove the seatback screens passengers once used to watch movies and TV shows, according to the New York Times. Instead, they want passengers to stream content provided by the airline on their personal devices.
American and United Airlines are not including the screens on new planes designed for short trips, which reduces the weight of the aircraft as well as installation and maintenance costs that can total over $US10,000. The shift comes as passengers increasingly favour personal devices like laptops, phones, and tablets over seatback screens.
In response, airlines are offering free mobile messaging and in-flight entertainment that passengers can stream on their devices. Delta Airlines announced it would make hundreds of movies and TV shows available to passengers on their personal devices and on aircraft with seatback screens in 2016, and introduced free mobile messaging for passengers in 2017. Alaska Airlines rolled out a similar service in 2017, while American and United have moved to make more entertainment options available to passengers on their devices, according to the Times.
While this shift may be cost-effective for airlines, some travellers prefer seatback screens to using personal devices because they take up less space and don’t threaten to drain their devices’ batteries. This means airlines may have to make investments in outlets and increase the quality of their entertainment offerings to gain an edge on the competition.