Alaska Airlines quietly cuts inflight entertainment tablets
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.
As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, airlines are doing everything they can to reassure customers that it’s safe to travel.
And when it comes to the inflight experience, almost every carrier has made adjustments to minimize crew and passenger interactions. Boarding processes have been modified, food and beverage service has been cut to a bare minimum and inflight entertainment options continue to evolve.
For more travel tips and news, sign up for our daily newsletter!
In the latest move, Alaska Airlines has permanently removed its inflight entertainment tablets.
Per an update to Alaska’s inflight entertainment FAQ’s, Alaska writes that “in order to minimize contact between guests and crew, we’ve permanently removed inflight entertainment tablet rentals onboard.”
This is definitely a blow to Alaska flyers who are looking to stay entertained during some of the carrier’s longest flights. We’ve reached out to the airline to learn more about the move and will update the story when we hear back.
Though I definitely understand the concern around keeping devices clean and minimizing interactions, the fact that these tablets are being removed permanently appears like it’s also designed as a cost-cutting initiative.
To account for that, carriers are understandably looking to trim costs. One major cost-cutting measure is expected this fall, with airlines planning involuntarily furloughs en masse, as they lose essential government aid.
But there are other smaller costs throughout an airline’s operation. The entertainment tablets likely took up too much space in the galley (added fuel burn) and had high maintenance costs.
The availability of inflight entertainment tablets was already significantly scaled back in Nov. 2018. Previously, they were available on all flights over three and a half hours, but Alaska needed to make room for more food and beverage options.
So, the carrier kept them around for some of its longest flights — most coast-to-coast hops and Hawaii flights. The rental cost $8 to $10 per segment but were provided complimentary to those flying in first class or with top-tier Alaska 75k elite status.
The tablets came pre-loaded with movies, TV shows, music, a kid’s zone and Xbox games.
In addition to the tablets, Alaska offers streaming entertainment to your own device. This service will remain after the tablets are retired and will be the primary way to stay entertained onboard.
Through the inflight Wi-Fi portal, Alaska offers over 500 free movies and more than 550 episodes of 80 TV series. This streaming entertainment is free, but you’ll need to bring your own device (and keep it charged).
And as many airlines continue to remove seatback entertainment, the “new normal” post-pandemic will likely be one in which you’ll need to BYOD (bring your own device) to stay entertained onboard.
Featured photo by Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, 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.
- 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®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- 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.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.