In-flight entertainment on planes: Airlines should just give up…

…on the seatback screens.

A few years ago, I would have never thought I’d say that.  Traveling sometimes 100,000 miles a year (and nearly all in Economy class), I repeatedly cursed United in particular for having seemingly no planes with seatback screens… forcing me to be “entertained” by a movie whose lack of visibility was only trumped by its lack of quality & recency.

Delta — a few years late, I’d say — is now trying to appeal to people like earlier-me with this ad I just spotted in this month’s Wired magazine:

Delta ad campaign 2014, scanned image credit Nostalgia Airways

A few years ago, however, I didn’t have a tablet computer, and now I do (two!).  I love my Nexus 7 and Nexus 10, and find them to be outstanding entertainment companions, especially on a plane.  And given the ubiquity of tablets and the consistent and astounding crapitudinous quality of airline entertainment system UIs, I’m thinking that airlines should instead just ensure that every seat has a power outlet and give up on the small and oft poor-quality seatback screens.

But Adam, not everyone has a tablet!
True.  But I’m wiling to bet the intersection of frequent (and high revenue) travelers and tablet ownership is pretty darn high, and certain to get much higher in the next few years.

Have you ever tried balancing a tablet on a wobbly seatback tray?  Especially during mealtimes?
I have, and why can’t you enjoy your meal over a little peace and quiet, eh? :p  Joking aside, this is why I think airlines should simply build tablet holders into seatbacks.  But if they make it iProprietary, I’m gonna throw a fit :(.

I shouldn’t have to remember to preload music and movies onto my tablet!
You probably forget your car keys each morning, too, don’t you?  No?  Okay, but do you really want to be reliant on the dubious (and often laughably censored) entertainment content from the airlines?  That aside, how about a smart hybrid system like Southwest Airlines is offering, where you can optionally connect to the plane’s intranet-wifi (intrawifi?) with your computer or tablet and pay to watch a movie from their selection.

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What do you think?  Do you own a tablet?  Are you grateful when you see your plane has seatback screens?


P.S. — Given the decreasing width of the already narrow seats on planes and the increasing girth (especially of us Americans), I’d argue that — contrary to Delta’s assertion — we actually are typically sharing a seat 🙁







2 responses to “In-flight entertainment on planes: Airlines should just give up…”

  1. Alex Avatar

    Yes, I own a tablet I bought it from a shop in ipswich. You can visit them here. I always do prefer having my own content rather than watching it on a plane. The screens are usually so small and a lot of the time the picture isn’t the best. Also with the long haul flights, you’ll tend to find that they haven’t updated the content. So there are no new movies on the return flight.

  2. Alex Avatar

    I’d rather have my own content on my ipad. Usually they haven’t updated the the library for the return flight anyway

What do you think?