American Airlines inflight entertainment can be expensive and now AA is reducing ancillary fees and inflight add-ons by offering free in-flight entertainment where available on all planes equipped with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or seat-back entertainment. This will expand upon the current overhead TVs available on some older 737s, 757s, and 767s which offers free entertainment to some customers. Currently American Airlines is the only major US Airline to charge for inflight entertainment, and now AA is catching up to offer free entertainment, a move the US industry is moving back to after years of charging $3-$9 for TV access.
“American Airlines (Nasdaq:AAL) is continuing to elevate the customer experience by adding complimentary premium movies, TV shows, music and games in the Main Cabin on all domestic flights offering seatback entertainment systems or Wi-Fi. Beginning this month, customers will have unrestricted access to the best and largest content library among the U.S. carriers from their own device or seatback entertainment systems.
“American is further investing in and personalizing how our customers travel by giving them the most in-flight entertainment options onboard our aircraft,” said Fernand Fernandez, American’s vice president – Global Marketing. “Our employees do an outstanding job taking care of our customers and combined with a fleet of aircraft that is the youngest of the U.S. carriers and onboard products like complimentary premium entertainment and snacks, American is creating an unmatched travel experience that all of our customers can enjoy.”
Customers traveling on American flights will be able to enjoy premium shows like HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and “Silicon Valley” as well as new movie releases such as “Captain America: Civil War,” “The Boss” and “The Lobster.” Available inflight entertainment will vary by aircraft type. Nearly 300 of American’s aircraft have seatback entertainment, with more being added every month. All American domestic mainline aircraft and two-class regional jets offer in-flight Wi-Fi. Customers can download the American Airlines mobile app to access this free, premium entertainment.”
American Airlines inflight entertainment is now free, but AA is not the first US Airline to offer free in-flight entertainment. In fact United has been rolling out free BYOD entertainment on wi-fi enable jets for months, however United’s free entertainment is illogical and is based on airplane type, as old pre-merger Continental jets with DirecTV do not offer free entertainment, thus creating confusion among travelers. Delta rolled out free premium entertainment on all planes nearly two years ago, reversing a policy of only offering it for free for the First Class cabin, which was then extended to premium economy with the roll out of Comfort Plus, before a total reversal for the entire plane. Other smaller carries, such as Jetblue and Virgin America offer free live TV, but Virgin America does still charge for movies on their inflight entertainment system. Meanwhile Southwest and Alaska have both rolled out BYOD entertainment option, but Alaska Beyond Entertainment still charges for Hollywood released movie, but does offer a slew of free documentaries and other options to entertain travelers.
The shift from paid entertainment to free is welcomed by travelers! It is nice to see the airlines move away from some of their silly ancillary frees. After all, free entertainment will only help keep customers happy as distracted passengers are happy passenger and it will help the hours in the air fly by a little quicker when we’re stuck at 33,000 feet in a giant sky-bus.