Etihad Ditching Seatback Screens in Economy on Narrow-Body Aircraft

Apr 28, 2019

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Etihad Airways is making changes to its economy class products on its fleet of A320 and A321 aircraft, it announced over the weekend. Most notably, Etihad is ditching seatback screens on narrow-body aircraft in favor of in-flight entertainment streamed through personal devices, and expanding dining options. The airline’s savvy marketing campaign spins the new changes as an opportunity for passengers to “Go Your Own Way” when traveling.

Instead of seatback in-flight entertainment (IFE) screens, customers will now have to bring their own device, much like passengers do when they fly American Airlines, Southwest and United. Passengers will now be able to stream movies and tv shows directly to their personal device via the onboard Wi-Fi. Passengers will have the option to stream onboard offerings or can download Etihad’s E-BOX streaming app to access even more content, including premium offerings like HBO.

While some passengers may miss the seatback IFE, the airline’s bottom line certainly won’t. The airline is estimating it will remove around 18 tons of weight across its narrow-body fleet — an average of close to one ton per aircraft. Less weight means a lower fuel burn, which will make operation of flights less expensive — but don’t hold your breath to see those savings passed along to your ticket price.

The airline is shedding weight in other areas as well. The new onboard cutlery will be 85% lighter than what was being used previously. That new lightweight cutlery will be paired with new menu options as well for passengers in economy. The airline says that the new meals will feature larger portions for the “contemporary bistro-style meal which is higher in quality, with a focus on fresh seasonal ingredients and more destination focused choices.” The airline also said it has “significantly expanded” its ‘Sweet or Salty’ retail menu.

Just like the onboard menu, the cabin itself is getting an overhaul as well. The airline will be installing new Extra-spacial Design seats by Acro. The airline says these next-gen seats will offer passengers increased knee room and are designed with passengers’ digital needs in mind; Each seat will feature high speed USB charging ports as well has built-in, adjustable holders for tables and phones.

Etihad says the roll out of the new cabins will be complete by August of 2019. The airline says it’s not currently making any changes to IFE or other services onboard the wide-body aircraft in its fleet.

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