Delta Won’t Be Getting Rid of Seatback Entertainment Screens Anytime Soon

Aug 20, 2018

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As airlines such as American and Alaska scale back or rip out seatback entertainment screens to save on weight, costs and maintenance headaches, Delta Air Lines is doing exactly the opposite. Delta just installed its 600th aircraft with seatback entertainment, “fulfilling its end-of-year commitment early and giving more customers than ever convenient access to free in-flight entertainment on Delta Studio.” The move follows a United announcement from April, which focused on its expansion of entertainment options, seatback included.

Why continue to push in-flight entertainment screens when others are trumpeting the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) revolution? Because you aren’t ready to rely solely on your smartphone for entertainment — you know, the phone that’s three generations behind, has a wicked crack in the lower-left corner, and never seems to be charged beyond 18%.

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Delta’s seatback entertainment screens onboard a Boeing 767. (Photo by Benji Stawski / The Points Guy)

Tim Mapes, Delta’s Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, said this about the decision to forge ahead with seatback entertainment: “We continue to invest in seat-back screens, because customers continue to tell us they’re important. With seat-back screens, customers don’t have to choose between using their phones or watching a movie. Whether they want to work, relax, or a little bit of both — we want to give our customers the ability to choose and make the most of their time in flight.”

What’s most notable here is that Delta isn’t choosing seatback entertainment over BYOD; rather, it’s offering both. On regional jets, which have Wi-Fi but lack seatback screens, Delta Studio allows passengers to stream entertainment. On bigger jets with both Wi-Fi and seatback entertainment, Delta is allowing passengers in all cabins to choose whichever option is most pleasing to them.

Speaking of Delta Studio (which, as a reminder, is free to all customers in all cabins), you’ll find the anticipated documentary “Three Identical Strangers” streaming from this month, debuting in the sky at the same time it debuts in theaters back on Earth.

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Delta’s seatback entertainment screens on a Boeing 777. (Photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines)

While it’s a given that most passengers these days will come on board with a tablet or smartphone, we’re fans of choice. Seatback screens are well positioned for ergonomic viewing, double as charging stations thanks to the integrated USB port and don’t take up any space on one’s tray table.

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