At a Crew News update last week a Dallas-based flight attendant asked American Airlines CEO Doug Parker about seat back entertainment. She said she’s noticed that most passengers really appreciate inflight entertainment “with the TV’s” and she wanted to understand why American wouldn’t install seat back tv’s going forward?
She says that passengers “don’t even remember their headphones” yet alone their own entertainment devices. Customers prefer it, flight attendants prefer it, why wouldn’t they offer it? (“Why are we going in that direction if we’re Going for Great?”)
Parker explained that new planes are being delivered without seat back screens is in part financial, they’re expensive to buy. (In the past he’s complained about their weight and fuel burn.) He said that inflight entertainment systems “don’t work a lot, which gets people upset” and walked that back to say they don’t work sometimes, emphasizing the maintenance issues and the space that seat back screens take up.
He says “the transition’s going to be really difficult” acknowledging that today customers aren’t all ready for planes without entertainment devices. Just ask the family of four that doesn’t own four iPads and has to share.
Parker emphasizes American’s new planes are being delivered with satellite wifi “as opposed to the gogo wifi, so right now that gogo thing is shooting down to the ground to a cell tower just like your phone does, there’s not enough bandwidth for more than 5 or 6 people using it at once.”
He suggests people “could stream Netflix live” and it’s true that the technology allows it, but American’s service definitely isn’t allowing that much bandwidth for an individual user in my experience at this point.
Claiming it’s better not to have seat back screens, he closes saying that he thinks delivering planes without them “is Going for Great.”
Seat back entertainment actually doesn’t matter to me, I’ve written that many times and readers push back every time. When I fly I work, so I bring a laptop. And I don’t want to rely on an airline to entertain me, so it’s stocked with things I actually want to watch for when I’m too tired to work.
I do wonder whether y’all will come around and become more like me, if simply streaming to your own device is the future as Parker says?