Doug Parker: We Think Eliminating Seat Back Entertainment Is ‘Going for Great’

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?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. GARY WROTE: “When I fly I work, so I bring a laptop…”

    But they are all banned soon. So when you fly, you eat.

  2. Were I still in my teens (far from it), I’d be saying “I want some of what Doug Parker is smoking!”

  3. No one is going to a choose a domestic flight based on seatback entertainment. People will complain but the planes will still be full of people paying to fly. I’d much rather have power outlets that work and streaming capabilities than any seatback TV screen.

    The main reason AA ordered the MAX without seatback IFE will certainly never be talked about by Doug. Those TV’s add bulk to the seats and also only fit into certain off-the-shelf seats without big modifications. They’d never fit as many seats on the MAX with seatback IFE screens unless they removed both rear lavs which are basically useless anyways.

  4. I’m with you. I never fly unless I have 2-3 times more video content than the length of the flight (you never know when the IFE isn’t going to work or you get grounded, delayed, etc.). That’s in addition to dozens of hours of podcasts and then hundreds of hours of books on my kindle. So I’m prepared to entertain myself and flights would be cheaper if everybody else did too. Those IFE systems are huge – not just the screen part but all the systems to run it and power it. Plus, they’re always old tech, even if the plane is brand new because of how fast this stuff advances. And then you’ve got some person behind you tapping away at the screen as hard as possible keeping you from sleeping. So yeh, not a big fan of built in IFE (in coach) and I hope all airlines take it out or at least don’t order new planes with it. There’s no way it wouldn’t be cheaper just to have a stack of ipads to hand out or even buy on board.

  5. Gary, how do you load up your laptop with content to watch offline?

    I almost always have my laptop when I travel so I could use it for IFE but my problem is that I have not figured out a way to load up the content that does not take a lot of time and usually I am rushing to get ready for my trip and do not have a lot of time at the last minute to spare to load offline content. The main method I use is ripping my Blurays or DVDs and transferring them to the laptop. This process takes a significant amount of time, for me at least. I would love to hear a better way to do it. Perhaps you could make a short post on how you get your offline IFE content ready for a trip? I would be very interested to learn how expert travelers like yourself prepare your offline IFE for a trip.

  6. If this is for domestic US flights, I don’t really have an issue with it. I used to fly NW all the time without domestic IFE. However, if they do it for international flights, I’ll fly another carrier, simple as that.

    That said, they should look into QF’s domestic solutions for entertainment content – it’s great.

  7. Our family travels a lot for leisure and we rely on the entertainment systems on board to keep up entertained most of the time. I am AA Platinum and Delta Gold. My family are all AA Gold and Delta Silver. We all earned our status by flying and with that said, we do not all carry laptops, MacBooks, etc. If AA eliminates the entertainment system on our favorite transcontinental routes and our yearly routes to Hawaii, then they will be losing 4 elites that actually spend the money flying first class to get to our destination. There are many other families that we know that are in the situation we are and that rely on the entertainment systems. They should at least keep them in first class. At the end of the day, we usually choose our flights based on the aircraft so if we had to choose between a transcontinental flight on AA without entertainment or one on JetBlue, then I would pick the JetBlue flight knowing I can watch a movie or two. Let’s hope AA does the right thing and keeps the entertainment systems on some planes.

  8. If it’s so important to people as you think, would people be willing to pay $10 per domestic flight for IFE to compensate for the equipment, maintenance, and fuel burn costs? I seriously doubt it. Personally, I’d rather a phone/tablet stand on the seatback anyway. Domestic coach travel has become commoditized, hence the popularity of LCCs. Most people only care about getting from point A to point B for the lowest price possible. AA is right in seeking to minimize costs in coach to compete with LCCs. Marketing fluff like “going for great” should be recognized on it’s face for what it is, not as a counter argument to cost savings initiatives.

  9. Doug Parker has got to be the biggest fool on this planet or he is an alien. It is hard to believe someone running the worlds largest airline could be so out of touch with real people. IFE is important to people the same way power ports at each seat are(8 year plan to install). AA has got a fleet of aircraft with such a mis-mash of features it is amazing. You have a better chance of winning the lotto than knowing what you will get when it comes to IFE/power when flying AA. His “going for great” needs to be renamed “we are a joke”.

  10. @samir —> Yes, I too flew without IFE on US domestic flights all the time . . . back in the 1960s and ’70s.

  11. @Brian —> Personally, I’d rather avoid DL and their “SkyPesos.” IFE was only one reason that my “airline of choice” was Virgin America. AS doesn’t have IFE, but I *am* “wedded” to Alaska, given my elite status and the amount of points I have. But jetBlue has a wonderful IFE system, and is now my first choice for transcon flights.

  12. @John —> I have begun to download films onto my laptop for flights, but I do so via iTunes, etc., rather than by loading them by ripping DVDs, etc., etc. Then again, at least on short-haul flights, I just read a book if there’s no IFE onboard.

  13. @mwwalk —> While I agree that IFE systems *do* weigh a considerable amount, and certainly eliminating them will reduce fuel costs, the seats also weight something — why not replace them with wicker? The bathrooms and sewage disposal system also weighs a lot; why not just have plastic urinals and bedpans like they use in hospitals? And on and on . . .

    Yes, of course, I’m joking, but the line must be drawn somewhere. When you say, “There’s no way it wouldn’t be cheaper just to have a stack of ipads to hand out or even buy on board,” I see serious problems there. First of all, I presume you didn’t actually mean BUY, but rather RENT (unless you honestly see American Airlines, and others, becoming an authorized retail of iPads or possible Chromebooks). But there’s another issue: EVERY time I have flown on a plane without IFE *and* that has PROMISED (via their website) there are iPads for rent, NONE have been present — even when flying FC where they were supposedly offered “complimentary.” Alaska, Hawaiian — you name it. None.

  14. As long as they provide an onboard streaming server, problem solved!

    iPad? Too expensive. Phone, or get a cheap Kindle Fire, connect to WiFi, done.

    Both NetFlix and Amazon video have options now to download titles locally as well.

    It’s a bus with wings, and IFE is a legacy that can be dispensed with.

  15. Here’s who Doug Porker is:

    When at USAir he had the IFE music removed, but left the controls in each seat handle. So I’d watch passengers spending hours trying to get it to work.

    It dawned on me that he’s a Trumpian waddling sadist who just likes to see other people made miserable, gets delight from this. Especially likes to dupe ignoramuses who don’t know they have vastly better choices like JetBlue, Virgin Alaska or overseas carriers.

  16. This is okay for domestic flights, but a flight across the Atlantic 2018 without back seat entertainment. Quite a challenge for the “iPad-less” traveller.

  17. Don’t care about seat back screens on narrowbody, but I do care about rubbing shoulders on 777s and 787s. A 3 hour flight on those plans in economy is unbearable already! I actually prefer the basket of deplorables for domestic flights over the wide bodies!

  18. Lol, can’t help but laugh and shake My Head at Juan…… Platinum and Gold are Not what the Airlines would consider “Elite”….valued Yes but certainly Not the caliber of Elite Heavy Hitter types of a CK,ExPl, PlatPro or a UA GS or Delta Medallion Member. Gold? that is beyond ridiculous

  19. Like Gary and I always travel with my own entertainment for work when traveling for business, but when I travel with my family which includes three children under 11, seat back entertainment is huge.

    Even though they all have their own devices, they are primary form of entertainment on them is YouTube, which isn’t available through streaming on most planes.

  20. IFE seems useful for long-haul international. I travel sometimes for business on short notice and I don’t want to have to download something to watch before traveling. For domestic, IFE’s a distraction like being in a TV store. That said, if AA is just going to add another row of seats to capture the extra weight and room as revenue, they seem to be driving away some folks who like IFE and fly for business in coach (Even a mini laptop is a challenge in AA coach). Flying for business means cheaper airfare isn’t going to the flyer.

  21. Just keep one thing in mind when generalizing flyers who have laptops when traveling for work… Vast majority of those travelers have corporate owned laptops that imposes a lot of restrictions on what employees can download on the laptop or even sites they can access.

    Yes, they can buy their own tablet, but that assumes they want to carry around 3 devices and with this basic economy crap becoming more widespread (won’t be surprised more and more low fare classes will become basic as organic growth starts slowing down after the current iteration) this becomes a more difficult decision with the limited personal carry on space and weight restrictions.

    Parker has the right idea in the sense of how customers are slowly shifting to preferring their own device (particularly with millennials and younger generations as they get older and take up more buying power) however AA needs to encourage this shift not go against it… Installing power ports urgently, loosening up carrying on restrictions for basic economy (i.e. adopt DL’s policy), enhancing USB ports to USB-C standard to allow ability to properly charge tablets, etc.

    Until then, Doug’s short sighted comments here are devoid of reality.

  22. I feel like Doug Parker is pushing me towards JetBlue at FLL, away from AA into MIA. I enjoy my ExPlat status. But if my upgrade doesn’t happen, I would rather be on JetBlue with three more inches of leg room, movies, and live TV. There’s also Southwest with gate to gate entertainment to my own devices, no baggage fees, and no change fees. Hmm…

  23. While other industries have strived to innovate and improve the experience over the years, I feel like airlines are going in the opposite direction – either taking away appreciated services or charging for them as if they are suddenly a “premium” experience.

  24. There is a simpler solution. Alaska Airlines hands out pre-loaded tablets with all of your IFE, movies, TV shows, travel films. If you get a bad tablet, the f/a gives you another one. No aircraft infrastructure other than internet box and far less aircraft weight. I think that this is a really workable compromise.

  25. @Steve —> FWIW, I’m a MPG Gold, and I have *never* been offered a tablet from AS, regardless of whether I’m sitting in Econ, PE, or FC. Just food for thought. (Indeed, I’ve never even SEEN tablets being offered on AS; I know the website says they’re available on flight of 4+ hours, but I’ve never seen them.)

  26. @Vicente —> You say (write), “It’s a bus with wings, and IFE is a legacy that can be dispensed with.”

    1) Food and beverages are a legacy; can they be dispensed with? (Apparently they can, if you’re flying Frontier.) Restrooms are a legacy; can they be dispensed with? (Apparently if you’re the CEO of Spirit, at least you can hope!) Perhaps it’s just the legacy CARRIERS we can do away with.

    2) It is NOT a “bus with wings.” How long is the average bus ride? 15 minutes? 30? 45, if going cross-town and it’s rush hour? (Yes, in certain cities, specific rides may take even longer.) Flights, OTOH, generally *start* at ~1 hour, and go up from there.

    3) Let’s presume — for simplicity’s sake; and just for a moment — there are two types of passengers: business and non-business fliers. Let’s also presume — for the same reasons — there are two types of flights: short- and long-haul.

    — Short-haul, IFE for everyone is less important. Business fliers are, more often than not, either “tweaking” their paper/presentation for that upcoming meeting. Non-business fliers can make do (if forced — that is, if the IFE system is eliminated) on flights up to 2-2.5 hours with books, the in-flight magazine (presuming that, too, hasn’t been eliminated), and — god forbid! — talking with their companion. Parents with young children already bring enough toys, coloring books, and Cheerios to keep the little ones occupied.

    — Long(er)-haul (think 3+ hours — SFO-DFW; LAX-SEA; ORD-MIA; IAD-DFW; etc.), even business people will get tired of looking at spreadsheets, speeches, and PowerPoint presentations. Kids are going to get restless (parents are far more likely to have electronic games for them). And even die-hard readers will want a break. And that break is IFE . . .

    — If you re-read the beginning of Gary’s piece: “She [the flight attendant] 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?’)” Perhaps YOU are elephant, blessed with a perfect memory, and NEVER forget a thing. But for the rest of us mere mortals . . .

  27. It kind of feels like your blog has become the “all whine all the time” voice of American “Resistance.” I guess that’s your prerogative, but what exactly are you whining about here? I assume it’s true that these new aircraft have the satellite ka-band wifi that is light years ahead of the terrible go-go internet on existing aircraft If that’s true, it seems like pax will be LIGHT YEARS BETTER OFF with this new service than what exists on most current AA aircraft. True?

    The reality today is that any frequent flyer who highly values in-flight entertainment brings their own screen with them. I’ll agree that infrequent flyers may be less prepared, but isn’t American in business to cater to its FREQUENT customers? I mean, I’d also like a lie-flat seat and a full course meal every time I get on a 2-hour flight, but I’m probably not willing to pay for that. Similarly, why should AA install screens on these aircraft if its customers won’t pay for it and it doesn’t make economic sense? Because you want them to? Any other reason?

  28. If you survey the airline clientele, I think you will find that business travelers are apathetic to seat back entertainment systems. Families and leisure travelers traveling in economy generally prefer them. However, these types of passengers almost always purchase tickets based solely on price, so creating an minor inconvenience isn’t going to cause AA to lose those customers.

  29. @iahphx — who is whining? I actually write that this approach works for me (though not for everyone for sure!)

    And you seem to forget that American has said they are NOT in business to cater to frequent customers, rather “More than half to the company’s revenue — and 87 percent of its seats sold — come from passengers who fly American once a year or less” per former President Scott Kirby.

  30. IFE gives me way more personal space (laptop barely fits on tray table). And I don’t have to spend my own time and money getting ready. Greatly prefer IFE and I dont understand the above comment that people won’t choose based on IFE. (and seat space) I certainly do and I’m a higher value passenger. Lifetime gold on AA but if they want to compete with Frontier for passengers go ahead, Ill pass. Frankly wish B6 could expand on the West Coast….

    Totally disagree Gary. Also do you have kids? You’d change your tune in a heartbeat.

  31. Love this idiot logic – “The reality today is that any frequent flyer who highly values in-flight entertainment brings their own screen with them. I’ll agree that infrequent flyers may be less prepared, but isn’t American in business to cater to its FREQUENT customers? …Similarly, why should AA install screens on these aircraft if its customers won’t pay for it and it doesn’t make economic sense? ”

    So because captives have to fly AA for whatever reason, the airline should abuse them at every turn? Also using my own screen adds to an already cramped experience. Further the screens are a l-t decision, people have already made decisions based on amenities (witness the rise of B6), seems to me AA is l-t segementing themselves into the Spirit/Frontier bucket of customers, and cant easily reverse. Make no sense given the airline history, and the fact the they CHOSE FOR THEMSELVES the eminently mockable slogan ‘going for great’.

    In the era whereFF programs are being devalued and caryy less sway as a point of differentiation, I can take my money anywhere flying out of LAX and I do. Having IFE is better than not having IFE – not sure how anyone can argue that…

  32. I‘m not entirely sure how o feel about this… I guess it depends on the kind of trips I go on and what I expect from the flight. To be very honest, I mostly go for the lowest fare first and then take a look and see how much I want to pay extra to get ‘the extras’.
    I’m based in Hamburg, Germany and often fly the route HAM-PMI which is around 2.5 hrs. For me, that’s short-haul. I’ve had fares of ~55€ (~70$) round trip on this route on Ryanair. With them, I know what I’m getting and that is pretty much a bus ride but on a plane. I don’t expect to get a lot of service or something.

    That’s Ryanair but on on the same route, AirBerlin used to fly aswell. Often, they were considerably more expansive but if you add the luggage costs to Ryanair it’s not THAT much of a difference anymore. And while I do not have high status on OneWorld (only Ruby) i did enjoy business checkin, fast track security, priority boarding and the “lounges” airberlin offered to Ruby members. (E.g. a designated are on the 2nd floor in Hamburg airport with free drinks and magazines etc but no food). On those flights, I do expect a certain level of comfort and SOME kind of IFE would have been nice.

    However, it’s something else to fly long-haul: i did HAM-LHR-LAX this year on BA & AA and despite what lots of people are saying about AA, I really did enjoy the flight on their 777-200. Service and food was great and the bathrooms were clean. (Well I was in MCE so that might have been one of the reasons I enjoyed the flight so much) And while I always take my iPad with pre loaded movies and series with the Netflix download function inside the Netflix app (as well as Amazon prime video) I do like to play around with the IFE every now and then, especially for the interactive map.

    Then there’s the kind of flight that I expect to be great. E.g. I did DAR-DXB on EK and that’s an airline where I expect IFE to be great. I even found myself watching a movie on the IFE.

    Now to the question wether IFE is necessary: I would say no. What I would love to see however are power ports consistently on all planes, tablet mounts as well as affordable WiFi. It does not need to be free but if you want to substitute seat back screens, you will need something to keep people entertained, otherwise some people will go crazy on board and that makes them unhappy with the flight and they might not fly the airline again soon. So what I would suggest if the following: have WiFi on all flights and also have tablets for the people who don’t have their own ones. In order not to overload the internet uplink I’d also say, put some movies etc in a server within the plane. And then have two options: 1. Let people book entertainment while booking their tickets and 2. Pay for it while on the plane.
    But make sure it’s cheap enough that people will use it because otherwise they won’t want to pay for it which results in unhappy passengers, which is bad. E.g. do 1$ per 500MB WiFi, 2$ per rental tablet. That’s prices people will pay and then the airline can save money on seat back screens and still make people happy.

    And while I do think you should only pay for what you use, I guess we all agree that somethings we like to get “free stuff” even if it’s pseudo free and we don’t want to think about wether or not to get IFE and WiFi but simply have it readily available. After all, flying should be something we enjoy and still has the certain something to it that nothing quite compares to… I mean, every time I fly I try to feel the atmosphere of people flying together to foreign countries and experiencing new cultures and I very much love that.

    And when people say, that airline is so bad and I don’t have enough space and service is not so good, be reminded: we are the top percent of people on the planet who can afford to fly which is a great privilege. (I also remind myself of that since me too, I complain about some airlines…)

  33. The presence or absence of seat-back entertainment SBE does not affect ticket prices. So providing it is no skin off the noses of customers who like streaming content or bring their own. Streaming or bringing your own content means more people will have to lug laptops and other devices through security and on the plane. Given that airlines are hell bent on cramming more people into the same space, it would be in their interest to keep all passengers easily entertained.

  34. @ Gary — Yes, infrequent flyers are important to AA’s bottom line, but I think there is universal understanding that most such customers are not picking an airline based on its inflight entertainment systems. It is also universally understood that the best way to market to such customers is on price. Hence the existence of Basic Economy, which frequent travelers often pass on.

    So, again, does it make any sense whatsoever to you for AA to install seatback entertainment on its domestic fleet? Is it not infinitely wiser to allocate limited resources to fast wifi?

  35. @Jason Brandt Lewis,

    I stand by what I say. Travellers do not, generally speaking, pick their flight and ticket based on IFE. It is an anachronism of days past. I’m often shocked when I find IFE on planes, a lot of my airline experiences the equipment is 10-15 years old easily. The worst was a VS 340 very SLOOOW responding system, where I had to figure out how to work the remote, felt like flashing back to late 90’s.

    I might go through all the content and not find ANYTHING that I want to waste my time on.

    Anyone that wants something bigger than a phone screen, can pick up a Kindle Fire for under $100 that is more capable than any IFE. 6 out of 6 last flights, there was literally nothing I was interested in.

    When it comes to “I” for Information, if there’s an IFE I will frequently leave it on just for the moving map. Thats’ kind of cool.

    There was one time the IFE was busted. I did get to claim some miles by complaining about it.

    But sure, this is FIRST WORLD PROBLEM #1 for you, then pick your flights based on IFE.

    Happy contrails!

  36. In my experience on AA and DL, I get the same or better IFE selection via their WIFI portal (still free) than is available in the seat back on the same plane. So generally no need to pre-load anything on my tablet. The only irritation at least on DL is that it seems like if the WIFI can’t connect to the ground then the IFE works. Fix that and problem #1 solved.

    In my case when traveling with family we all have a tablet or phone that can be used to stream entertainment. I always carry laptop, iPAD and phone with me with the iPAD being the preferred way to stream.

    If my family didn’t already have the tablets, then yes I would pay at least $15 a R/T to have seat back IFE. While price is important, it is but 1 factor in my decision as is my previous experiences with that airline, airports I route through, aircraft I would travel on and amenities. I might be a Unicorn in the airline passenger world but I don’t think so.

    I find the whole race to the bottom by legacy carriers as stupid because the way they are structured they can never compete with the LCCs on price alone and the more they take away from their offering the less competitive they become.

  37. I agree, getting rid of seat backs makes sense for them, and makes it in some ways more convenient to us (I have my own device with better software, can angle it the way I want to).

    But before they go that route they need to make sure to offer headphones, working power outlets and fast reliable internet.

  38. So I am a supporter of seat-back IFE in as many planes as possible and I champion DL’s decision to keep them in their domestic aircraft. (No airline is going to get rid of them on long-haul flights.)

    However, satellite 2KU and KA band wifi will be able to stream Netflix, Hulu, etc, and I think that is a very big deal. If it’s an either or situation, I’d rather have streaming. I’ve done it on the few DL flights I’ve been on with GoGo 2KU (where it’s not–I’ll point out–an either or decision…) AA’s Viasat system should handle the bandwidth without issue once the kinks are worked out. I think streaming-quality bandwidth will be a game changer for IFE on aircraft.

    For the flyer (or family of fliers) without devices, FAs should be able to rent tablets like on Alaska, or on AA’s own 757s and 767s. (They should also be free in first class.) This solves the problem of a) installing dedicated devices in the seat back at high cost and b) maintenance issues.

  39. @iahphx –

    1. I don’t see seatback IFE as trading off with fast wifi (just ask delta).

    2. Infrequent customers generally choose on price because they are presented just with price and little info about amenities. The question is will it stay that way in the future? I don’t think so. I think amenities will matter 10 years from now more than they do today for infrequent travelers, because they’ll be presented with easy to understand info on flights that lets them easily compare amenities.

    3. I don’t think it’s a sustainable model for earning a revenue premium to disappoint customers, figuring they won’t be back in a year anyway. At least if the goal is a revenue premium.

    As I say I could care less about IFE, more customers disagree with me than don’t, and I suspect that’s likely to persist.

  40. @Vicente —>

    1) You write, “I stand by what I say.” Well, OF COURSE you do. I wasn’t expecting to convince you of anything, *nor* is this a place where there is room for only one opinion.

    2) You further write that, “Travellers do not, generally speaking, pick their flight and ticket based on IFE.” No one has ever said IFE is the primary reason they purchased a flight on ____________. It’s irrelevant, and a distraction to the topic at hand, IMHO. Setting aside two things (tickets purchased on points; and business travel dictated by a company’s travel policy), people purchase their airline tickets based on a combination of (in random order) price, time, convenience, and — sometimes — what FF program the passenger belongs to.

    3) “It is an anachronism of days past. I’m often shocked when I find IFE on planes, a lot of my airline experiences the equipment is 10-15 years old easily. The worst was a VS 340 very SLOOOW responding system, where I had to figure out how to work the remote, felt like flashing back to late 90’s.” a) Not my fault you can’t figure out a remote control; b) why is updating an IFE system any different that updating seats, cabins, for offerings, etc. IMHO, *all* are a cost of doing business. YMMV.

    4) “I might go through all the content and not find ANYTHING that I want to waste my time on.” Again, not my fault. This can — and DOES — happen to everyone. Even if there might be some interesting films available, nothing states passengers couldn’t have already seen them . . . .

    5) “Anyone that wants something bigger than a phone screen, can pick up a Kindle Fire for under $100 that is more capable than any IFE.” And how many passengers are there for whom spending $100 is a stretch, what with paying for kids’ tuition, groceries, utilities, ever-rising rent, etc., etc. You may have an extra “C” note burning a hole in your pocket, but not everyone does.”

    6) “When it comes to ‘I’ for Information, if there’s an IFE I will frequently leave it on just for the moving map. Thats’ kind of cool.” I agree. I often do the same, especially on short-haul flights (remember that book I was reading), or when flying long-haul, I might do that to an adjacent (empty) seat.

    7) “There was one time the IFE was busted. I did get to claim some miles by complaining about it.” And you were entitled to them.

    8) “But sure, this is FIRST WORLD PROBLEM #1 for you, then pick your flights based on IFE.” Never said that was my #1 priority, or even my second . . . What I did say above, somewhere, that *not* having IFE on AS long-haul makes me look harder at jetBlue . . . but that is ONLY one factor. jetBlue STILL needs to be price competitive, still needs to be at a convenient time, still needs to go to my destination, etc., etc., etc. Now that doesn’t seem to *me* to be a “FIRST WORLD PROBLEM,” as you put it. Rather, it sounds like smart shopping to me . . . .

    Happy contrails!”

  41. @Vicente —>

    1) You write, “I stand by what I say.” Well, OF COURSE you do. I wasn’t expecting to convince you of anything, *nor* is this a place where there is room for only one opinion.

    2) You further write that, “Travellers do not, generally speaking, pick their flight and ticket based on IFE.” No one has ever said IFE is the primary reason they purchased a flight on ____________. It’s irrelevant, and a distraction to the topic at hand, IMHO. Setting aside two things (tickets purchased on points; and business travel dictated by a company’s travel policy), people purchase their airline tickets based on a combination of (in random order) price, time, convenience, and — sometimes — what FF program the passenger belongs to.

    3) “It is an anachronism of days past. I’m often shocked when I find IFE on planes, a lot of my airline experiences the equipment is 10-15 years old easily. The worst was a VS 340 very SLOOOW responding system, where I had to figure out how to work the remote, felt like flashing back to late 90’s.” a) Not my fault you can’t figure out a remote control; b) why is updating an IFE system any different that updating seats, cabins, for offerings, etc. IMHO, *all* are a cost of doing business. YMMV.

    4) “I might go through all the content and not find ANYTHING that I want to waste my time on.” Again, not my fault. This can — and DOES — happen to everyone. Even if there might be some interesting films available, nothing states passengers couldn’t have already seen them . . . .

    5) “Anyone that wants something bigger than a phone screen, can pick up a Kindle Fire for under $100 that is more capable than any IFE.” And how many passengers are there for whom spending $100 is a stretch, what with paying for kids’ tuition, groceries, utilities, ever-rising rent, etc., etc. You may have an extra “C” note burning a hole in your pocket, but not everyone does.”

    6) “When it comes to ‘I’ for Information, if there’s an IFE I will frequently leave it on just for the moving map. Thats’ kind of cool.” I agree. I often do the same, especially on short-haul flights (remember that book I was reading), or when flying long-haul, I might do that to an adjacent (empty) seat.

    7) “There was one time the IFE was busted. I did get to claim some miles by complaining about it.” And you were entitled to them.

    8) “But sure, this is FIRST WORLD PROBLEM #1 for you, then pick your flights based on IFE.” Never said that was my #1 priority, or even my second . . . What I did say above, somewhere, that *not* having IFE on AS long-haul makes me look harder at jetBlue (and that Delta and American held little interest to me, at least domestically — which is the primary topic at hand) . . . but that is ONLY one factor. jetBlue STILL needs to be price competitive, still needs to be at a convenient time, still needs to go to my destination, etc., etc., etc. Now that doesn’t seem to *me* to be a “FIRST WORLD PROBLEM,” as you put it. Rather, it sounds like smart shopping to me . . . .

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