Recently three American Airlines (American, United and Alaska) upped the ante in the race to the bottom. The trio have decided to remove individual seatback screens from many of their domestic flights, saying that passengers should be using their own.
This cost-cutting move will undoubtedly be an effective one in terms of airlines having to pay less for the equipment – according to The New York Times seatback screens cost up to $10,000 per seat, add in the cost of upgrades to the tech and airlines are saving about $1.7 million per Boeing 737.
But who actually cares about what the airline wants? As far as many of us are concerned, many airlines are out for the bottom line, not for passenger happiness. (Hello ever-shrinking leg room!)
It’d be easy for us to say that this is another anti-passenger move, but we also have to consider that this move might be good for the environment. Fewer screens mean reduced weight which means less fuel consumed. This, in turn, decreases the number of carbon emissions from each flight. It’s not like we don’t carry plenty of devices with us on any given flight. I, personally, always travel with a laptop and my mobile phone (which has plenty of Netflix content downloaded to it).
That’s the other thing though… If I’m sitting in economy and trying to watch something on my laptop, and the person in front of me decides he needs to lean all the way back, then I can’t actually have my screen in a comfortable position, because there is zero space. And what about during meal service? Ya can’t have both food and screen! Maybe that wouldn’t be a problem for 30 minutes, but as a mum, those 30 minutes could be the difference between having a child that’s “relatively content” and one that is wreaking havoc throughout the plane.
And, if airlines were making the environmental case, there is another way to lose the weight – not cramming so many people into planes! (Ok. Ok. I know it’s not THAT simple).
But that’s just my opinion. What’s yours?