In the New Year, we say so long to seat-back entertainment screens on some flights.
Welcome to 2018, where airplane seats are still shrinking and in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems are fading away with remnants of last year.
Strictly from an operations perspective, it’s a good move to ditch the screens. They can cost up to $10,000 – per seat – to install, they add to the weight of an aircraft, increase the size of the seats and, like all technology, become obsolete almost instantly.
“Some airlines are looking at this from the standpoint of cost savings by removing the hardware,” Henry Harteveldt, co-founder of Atmosphere Research Group, told The Star. “They reduce the weight of the aircraft, and they reduce the expense associated with maintaining that equipment.”
Both United and American are working to phase out the screens, instead offering content that travelers can stream from their own devices. WestJet is doing the same, launching WestJet Connect that works with personal devices, eliminating the need for seat-back screens.
Air Canada sees it differently, though. The airline not only plans to keep the in-flight entertainment systems, but also to enhance them. The newest system used by the airline has 15 languages and a better interface than before.
“We know customers really like this amenity, including the diversity of the content,” Air Canada’s corporate communications manager Peter Fitzpatrick told The Star. “Soon, passengers will be able to stream video and audio to their own devices from our IFE, so we see our IFE and personal devices as complementary.”