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Etihad Is Scrapping Seatback Screens on Short-Haul Flights

Etihad Is Scrapping Seatback Screens on Short-Haul Flights
Scott Dylan

Another airline is ditching seat-back screens. Etihad has made the decision to do away with seatback screens in its short-haul economy cabins to cut costs. Etihad now plans to offer movies and television shows that can be streamed to personal devices as an alternative.

It makes sense that Etihad would like to cut costs. The carrier has been losing money year after year. A new look for Etihad’s 23 A320 jets will play a role in the airline’s efforts to cut costs. The new look will include slimmer seats with fast-charging USB ports. In addition, there will be an adjustable holder for phone and tablet in each seat.

Seatback screens are proving to be expensive for airlines. Installing and maintaining them is pretty costly. What’s more, they actually add weight to each seat and make each aircraft heavier. That results in higher fuel costs for each journey. Airlines that offer seatback entertainment options need to use Internet satellite. Etihad would apparently like to reduce technology costs on flights by relying on streaming options that allow passengers to watch content directly on their own devices.

When will you have to say your last goodbye to seatback screens on A320 jets as an Etihad passenger?

It has been revealed that all 23 of the airline’s A320 jets will be retrofitted by August of this year. That doesn’t mean that you won’t still see seat-back screens on Etihad flights. Personal seat-back screens are going to remain standard on all seats in the economy cabins of Etihad’s wide-body Airbus and Boeing aircraft.

What will the new seats that are being installed on the carrier’s revamped A320 jets be like?

Etihad is claiming that those seats will provide extra comfort and more knee room. However, they will apparently be pretty slim.

Will seat-back screens be missed?

The short-lived love affair that airlines had with seat-back screens is no doubt coming to an end. One of the big issues that airlines are facing in 2019 is the rising cost of fuel. It is surprising that airline executives who gave seat-back screens green lights just a few years ago weren’t able to see the potential problems that those screens could cause once fuel prices inevitably rose again. Airlines seem to be leaving seat-back screens in place when it comes to luxury and business seats. However, most passengers don’t really care about this feature or consider it to be a game-changing perk. Plenty of airline passengers are perfectly happy to stream their favorite shows directly to their phones and tablets like they do the rest of the time.

[Image Source: Etihad]

View Comments (2)


  1. steviebaby

    May 15, 2019 at 9:04 am

    The comment in the last paragraph stating that most passengers donnt really care about this feature…. is a bit brave and I venture not true. On lonhg haul i believe the majority of pax are watching the seat back screen including yours truly. However back to the article in particular it could be said that for short hul routes which the A320’s are used it is of no consequence if there is a seat back screen or not. I recently flew MCT-AUH a chocks to chocks time of 55 minutes. However I would suggest that EY use their brains (difficult I know) and have two layouts for their new cabin refurbishment. One for extremely limited short haul flights say 2 to 2.5 hours such as AUH to MCT/BAH/KWI/RYD etc etc and a more spacious cabin with seatback screens for flights to Beirut/AMM/CAI for example, which are 3 hours plus. Dare I say it their ‘former brothers’ over the water have just that set up. QR use A320’s for intercontinental routes up to 5 hours plus with spacious row seating and IFE, then they have very basic A320’s and use them for DOH-MCT and other short routes where nobody misses IFE

  2. tuna_hp

    June 13, 2019 at 10:14 pm

    I agree that they should get rid of the seatback entertainment systems because they are expensive, heavy, technologically archaic compared to even a gen 1 iPad, and everyone already has their own suitable device anyway. The problem is making those “suitable devices” convenient to use within the cramped conditions of the cabin. I have used my laptop on many flights and it is fairly uncomfortable and inconvenient: it occupies the whole tray table so you typically have nowhere to put a drink or snack, and snaking your power adapter underneath is messy as well. I think implementing tablet mounts on the seatbacks with adjacent USB power ports is a decent solution.

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