For the last several decades, airlines all over the world have been doing what they can to provide more entertainment options for their customers. JetBlue get people talking when they were one of the first airlines in the United States to put screens with live television on each seat back. In fact, people have taken to using the aircraft display systems to do a number of things to keep them entertained throughout a flight. At least 41% of all people who fly say that they like the inflight entertainment systems to watch movies.
While airline displays have gotten more advanced and become more commonplace, the technology passengers can bring on board with them has also advanced. At the same time, more and more airlines are offering WiFi on their flights. This has been a welcome development for most flyers as at least one quarter of all them admit they would pick a different airline if one of their offerings was WiFi, according to TripAdvisor’s 2013 Air Travel Survey. That same survey found that at least 37% of all airline passengers say that bringing a tablet on board with them is essential to having a good inflight experience.
Now American Airlines is taking that information to the bank. According to a piece in the Telegraph, they have made the decision to get rid of the aircraft displays on their planes all together. The new set of planes they just ordered will have no screens.
American Airlines is the largest airline in the world. It prefers to use the Boeing 737 Max plane for flights within the United States. They have said that this decision, to remove the screens that have become ubiquitous on the backs of the seats on most planes, has come after they have witnessed more and more people boarding their planes with their own technology such as laptops, tablets and smartphones. The airline also plans to upgrade its inflight WiFi offerings to make things easier for their customers to use their devices and get access to the internet.
The airline issued a statement this week to its employees, “More than 90% of our passengers already bring a device or screen with them when they fly. Those phones and tablets are continually upgraded, they’re easy to use and, most importantly, they are the technology our customers have chosen.”
In addition to improving the WiFi service and speed, American Airlines says it also plans to make its media library available for free for the people who fly with them. That library includes movies, television shows and in flight music. The airline will charge for access to its WiFi services but they have not yet determined what the fee for the service will be.
The first planes that will lack the aircraft display systems has been set to be delivered sometime later this year. The first batch that will be delivered will include 100 planes. American Airlines told Boeing they no longer wanted this kind of plane, the Boeing Max, to include the aircraft display systems for their domestic flights but they are not getting rid of the airplane displays on international flights.
Recent advancements in satellite access to the internet has made it possible for airlines to offer WiFi access to its customers. Moreover, the quality has improved greatly making it reasonable for people to use their own devices to entertain themselves with the internet. This is not the first airline to propose removing the aircraft displays. Virgin Australia, Jetstar and WestJet all both charge for access to their WiFi services and have no screens on the seats on a number of their routes.
It costs a lot for airlines to have the aircraft displays and inflight entertainment systems. A report that was put out by the Wall Street Journal found that the aircraft displays themselves have a price tag of about $3 million for each plane. Then there are the costs associated with the weight that is added to the planes by the cabling. That cost runs around $90,000 every year for added fuel costs. This is based on a 767 plane. They have 260 seats.