Three of the largest airlines in the U.S. are removing individual seatback screens from many of their domestic flights. Instead, they say passengers can use their own devices.
There are exceptions, passengers will encounter a mixed bag as airlines shift from seatbacks to streaming. American and United will keep their seatback screens on some cross-country flights between New York and Los Angeles or San Francisco. United is also retaining screens in Boeing 737s that it acquired in the merger with Continental in 2010.
Over the years, airlines have condensed seat space, added checked baggage fees, and separated flyers into an airborne caste system. In the early 2000s, economy seats used to be between 34 and 35 inches apart. Now, the average distance between seats is 30 to 31 inches and some low-cost carriers squish people in at 28 inches.
“Specific in-flight amenities that have the greatest positive effect on customer satisfaction are fresh food, seatback games and seatback live television.” J.D. Power airline satisfaction study, released last May.
Travelers who are upset to see seatbeack screens go by the wayside might find solace in faster Wi-Fi and seatside power outlets.