Delta CEO: Airline is considering seatback IFE on Boeing 717s

Oct 29, 2019

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Rumors have been flying around for months that Delta Air Lines is considering installing seatback screens on its fleet of Boeing 717s.

During the opening ceremonies for the airline’s new concourse at LaGuardia Airport on Tuesday, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said that it might well be true.

“We’re considering it,” Bastian said, when asked if the airline had any such plans.

Delta’s 717s are leased, as opposed to owned outright by the airline, but they should be flying for up to nine more years.

Next year, Delta will retire its MD-88s, and will phase out its MD-90s in 2022. That would leave the 717s as the only planes in the mainline Delta fleet without seatback IFE within a few years.

However, if Delta moves ahead with installing screens, it will become the only legacy carrier in the US with seatback IFE across its whole mainline fleet.

(JetBlue, of course, has had screens at every seat on the entire fleet since its inception, but it remains a secondary player compared to Delta, American and United.)

For passengers, that would mean a more consistent flying experience. Delta’s customers would know that any flight not operated by a regional affiliate would have the same entertainment options.

(Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy
A Delta Airbus A220 (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)

Delta has also been working on developing a wireless inflight entertainment system, which it introduced on its A220s. The airline has said the new screens will improve the IFE experience for all customers. It will also save the airline money: without all the wires, the system will weigh less than traditional seatback entertainment, which means planes that use it will require less fuel.

Featured photo by FG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images.

This story has been updated to reflect that Delta introduced wireless IFE on its A220 fleet.

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