BYO Device: Alaska Airlines Reduces Inflight Tablet Availability

Dec 5, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Over the last few years, a disappointing trend in commercial aviation has been that a number of airlines are backing away from providing seatback entertainment. While some planes and airlines certainly still have seatback screens you can just sit down and enjoy, the current trend is to provide inflight entertainment that is viewable on your own tablet (that is fully charged with the airline’s app previously downloaded). That’s an easy enough thing to manage as a single traveler, but a much different task when traveling with a whole family.

Photo courtesy of Flugzeug
Photo courtesy of Flugzeug

Alaska Airlines, TPG‘s top airline for 2018, has had a relatively unique hybrid solution for those who found themselves in need of inflight entertainment. They don’t have seatback screens on Alaska planes, but they did have tablets available and pre-loaded with movies, TV shows, music, a kid’s zone and Xbox games. These tablets cost $10 to rent for the flight, or were provided complimentary to those flying in first class or with top-tier Alaska 75k elite status.

Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines
Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines

Unfortunately, Alaska’s tablets have recently become more scarce. Over the weekend, Alaska tweeted that tablets are no longer offered on all flights in order to make room for more food and beverage options.

However, after contacting Alaska (and consulting the TPG Lounge), the reality isn’t that Alaska’s tablets have been eliminated entirely, but that they have been reduced. Alaska states to TPG that:

Tablets for purchase are only available on Premium Long-Haul markets (coast-to-coast and Hawaii flights). We previously offered tablets on nearly all flights over 3.5 hours. This change went into effect Nov. 1st.

We continue to invest in our in-flight entertainment. The service now offers over 500 free movies and TV shows that guests can stream to their own devices. Guests are showing a strong preference for the service with continual growth in usage and a decline in usage of tablets – particularly on the shorter flights.

That said, there are reports in the TPG Lounge of recent Alaska Airlines trans-con flights over 3.5 hours (such as from Los Angeles to Newark) that did not have tablets. Relying on Alaska to provide a device for your family at 36,000 feet entertainment is now a far-from-guaranteed situation, so the safest solution is to pack your own or prepare for a tablet-free flight.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.