This morning American Airlines announced more free inflight entertainment options in coach.
American Airlines is continuing to elevate the customer experience by adding complimentary premium movies, TV shows, music and games in the Main Cabin on all domestic flights offering seatback entertainment systems or Wi-Fi. Beginning this month, customers will have unrestricted access to the best and largest content library among the U.S. carriers from their own device or seatback entertainment systems.
…Customers traveling on American flights will be able to enjoy premium shows like HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and “Silicon Valley” as well as new movie releases such as “Captain America: Civil War,” “The Boss” and “The Lobster.” Available inflight entertainment will vary by aircraft type. Nearly 300 of American’s aircraft have seatback entertainment, with more being added every month. All American domestic mainline aircraft and two-class regional jets offer in-flight Wi-Fi. Customers can download the American Airlines mobile app to access this free, premium entertainment.
This is both strange and entirely predictable.
- Airlines are trying to please stock analysts by squeezing more money out of each passenger and the President of American Airlines believes — that unlike nearly every other industry which competes to provide more value at lower prices — the way to make money is to charge more while giving customers less.
- This remains a highly competitive industry, and Delta announced free inflight entertainment in coach two months ago. US legacy airlines all look to Delta, think Delta is the smartest and most successful, and manage by doing what Delta does. On Delta inflight entertainment is free with only one limitation: you aren’t allowed to see women kiss.
Of all the things to offer ‘free’ (or at no incremental charge) inflight entertaiment makes sense as one of those things. Once you offer it onboard, there’s no incremental cost for each additional passenger to access it. And one passenger’s access doesn’t trade off with another’s. The airline isn’t rationing a scarce resource or incurring additional cost.
But on this one issue I actually agree with what Doug Parker used to believe.
He also noted that putting movies on airplanes makes no sense anymore, since everyone has their own entertainment. He could see streaming it to individuals’ players, but not installing equipment at each seat.
American has been installing streaming video. The seat back devices don’t make sense. They are expensive, heavy, and take up space. Remember that Parker was CEO of US Airways when they removed seat power from Airbus aircraft to save fuel.
I have my own device. And I bring my own entertainment. It’s unlikely that American will curate entertainment I’m more likely to watch than what I preload myself. The only inflight entertainment I ever cared was was United’s channel 9.
Far more important is seat power and fast inflight internet.