Are We Losing This Inflight Feature?


Seatback Screens

I know that change can be good when it comes to all the advances in the airline industry today. However, I can not wrap my head around the current news articles I am reading at the moment. Can we actually be losing the seatback screens in favour of using our own devices?

As a frequent long haul passenger, I have not been on a flight that I have seen a fellow passenger not use the seatback screen at some point during the flight. I have also not witnessed the amount of use of personal devices that would warrant airlines to convert to removing seatback screens. However, this is only my observation. I would like to hear your thoughts on this, how often do you choose your own devices over the airlines seatback screens on long haul flights?

Who, When and Why

Many articles have been written about the topic with American Airlines looking to be one of the first to roll out the changes in new aircraft. Below outline just a few I have found:

  • Airlines inflight entertainment: Seatback screens to go as passengers us their own devices

  • American Airlines ditches seatback screens – so passengers will need to bring their own devices to watch movies on

  • Airlines phasing out screens because you are all on your devices –

CNBC is reporting via their YouTube channel that WestJet will be the first airline to remove the seatback screens on transatlantic flights. The replacement will also be passengers bringing their own devices and streaming content from WestJet directly. I have inserted the video below for you to watch. CNBC also mentions that Virgin Atlantic is investing in streaming Netflix to their seatback screens, so maybe not all airlines will follow this new trend of removing them. Go Virgin Atlantic.

Source: Wikimedia


The main reason the airlines are providing for the changes to inflight Source:entertainment seems to be they are just following the trends. The trend that passengers are increasingly carrying their own devices with them onboard and are choosing to watch their own content than that provided by the airline.

By the time next-generation planes are in service, the technology on them will already headed for obsolescence, Jason Rabinowitz, the director of airline research for Routehappy — which among other things, tracks in-flight amenities — said in an interview”.

I, for one find bringing technology with me on board the aircraft is too much to carry with me when I travel. I already bring my own headphones that take up room in my hand bag. This could be a way of cost cutting for the airlines, but will they pass those savings onto the passengers? or will this be a deciding factor when choosing who you fly with? Please let me know in the comments section below how you feel about it.

Source: CNBC International via YouTube

In the beginning years of seat back entertainment screens, when not all airlines had them on long haul flights yet. I remember only booking with the airlines that did have them, as I knew the 8 plus hour flight would be a much more comfortable and enjoyable experience. Will this happen again, but in reverse?


I know there will be people out there that will not mind taking their own devices, or that already do. This will be an easy transition for those people. However, what about those of us that turn up for our long haul flight to learn we are on one of these flights completely unknowing and unprepared? a quick run to the duty-free shop for an iPad? or do we purchase five books at the news agent? I am keen to see how this all plays out over the roll out of these new aircraft. I am definitely keen to hear from those of you that fly on them also.

The Alternative

As reported with Virgin Atlantic, Qantas has not got plans to remove seatback screens and will be adding streaming services to enhance the passenger in flight experience, not take away from. Albeit this is for the domestic Qantas product only at this time, but it is a start.

If you feel the way I do, below is the top ten airlines voted to have the world’s best inflight entertainment.


SkyTrax top ten world’s best inflight entertainment:


Singapore Airlines

Qatar Airways

Turkish Airlines

Qantas Airlines

Thai Airways

Etihad Airways


Cathay Pacific

Delta Air Lines

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