American Airlines Eliminates Seatback Inflight Entertainment Screens On Their New Boeing 737 MAX Aircraft


American Airlines has undertaken yet another step to downgrade the inflight experience of their customers as they ordered their new Boeing 737 MAX without inflight entertainment screens in the seat.

Instead the carrier will provide streaming entertainment for which passengers have to bring their own equipment and will have to to pay for the internet access.

Things like these really rub me the wrong way as not every passenger carries his own electronics and even if, sometimes you just want to leave them in your pocket and not deal with the notebook or ipad for some time.

I came across this information while browsing Airways Mag Online (access here).

American Airlines said Tuesday it will not install seat-back entertainment screens on its forthcoming Boeing 737 MAX fleet, due to arrive later this year.

Instead, the Dallas/Ft. Worth-based carrier will offer free entertainment, which will be available to passengers on their electronic devices. American Airlines will provide a library of movies and TV shows, as well as live TV. Customers who buy Internet will be able to stream video content, as the 737 MAX will feature satellite internet from ViaSat. …

“More than 90 percent of our passengers already bring a device or screen with them when they fly,” American told employees in a message. “Those phones and tablets are continually upgraded, they’re easy to use, and most importantly they are the technology that our customers have chosen,” American Airlines said.

American also told employees that IFE screens will remain on planes used for international flights, as well as in its three-class Airbus A321Ts and some single-aisle planes used for specific flights.

The airline expects to receive 4 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in 2017, which will be deployed mostly within North America.

Add to that that for example a family can hardly drag along electronic devices for each child and adult it makes me shake my head over something like this. Mind you that American has ordered over 100 of the 737 MAX which is a really beautiful airplane but in the end it all depends on the configuration the customer orders.


I don’t need IFE on a flight that is very short and often I just watch the flight show on the screen that shows the current position of the aircraft. Somehow I have the feeling that American won’t just use the aircraft on very short routes of 500 miles and less but also on longer ones which makes it a huge pain in the rear to not have in-seat IFE.

It should be noted that American isn’t the first airline that does this and it’s certainly not limited to North America either. Lufthansa for example has no IFE in any of their seat when it comes to their continental fleet, they offer a Mediathek instead where the passenger can access various news and entertainment.

New aircraft without in-seat entertainment in 2017? Get outta here!

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  • cscasi

    Won’t it be nice not to have this on the B-737 MAX flights to and from Hawaii? NOT!

  • RackDaddy

    I can imagine that seat back entertainment systems are expensive to purchase and maintain. If the airlines pass along the savings to customers (not likely), I’m all for it. Removing them also has the added benefit of the person behind me forgetting that their screen is inside my headrest, and poking the bejesus out of it.

  • josé

    There goes Parker being cheap again…

  • Bradley

    Kind of cool to have but half the time the person in front of me is leaned back so far into my lap that I cannot even see the darn thing anyway.

  • David

    Considering US airlines have only recently added in-seat screens to their narrow body fleets (and please tell me how many European or other airlines have even bothered with ISE on their non-wide body planes?) and given advances in technology and the demand for intra-net to provide inflight wifi, installing seats with screens and the associated wiring is quite expensive. I must disagree that many people will not have a device on which to view inflight streaming, and particularly parents with children. I’ve seldom seem families on my flights that don’t plug their kids (even the youngest, save for babes in arms) into an iPad or similar device. Teens are tethered to their smart phones and most adults have those, tablets or lap tops. This will only increase as more years pass. WestJet’s new planes use streaming to their app and UA has been promoting inflight streaming for a year or two. Such decisions save hundreds of thousand if not millions of dollars per plane to acquire and install ISE, plus the cost of maintenance and cleaning/disinfecting screens between flights or on overnight ground stays.

  • Michael Spronkler

    It’s not exactly clear if customers will be required to purchase internet service to get the free entertainment. If I can stream entertainment content for free, without purchasing internet service, it’s not that much of a pain. (This is how it works on their planes now, I believe.) If I have to purchase internet service to stream entertainment options, that is a huge problem.

  • Richard

    I am curious if the free entertainment is for both phone based devices and laptops. I noticed on one flight the free entertainment worked for the Android phone but not for the laptop, intentionally.

  • Ian MacKenzie

    Even Jet Airways (Indian domestic and international carrier) has recently provided Jetstream – in-flight streaming of movies etc. None of their domestic planes has IFE so this is an advance. I fully agree with the comment – which family of four isn’t fully connected to a WMD (Weapon of Mass Distraction) anyway. And generally the picture quality on IFE screens is so fuzzy anything else is an improvement.

  • Gaijinsan

    Problem with forcing customers to use their own devices for entertainment is battery drain. I usually find it quite inconvenient to charge my device in economy. Also, I haven’t tried AA’s system, but usually Rooted Android devices and Jailbroken iPhones are blocked, so it’s impossible to many customers to use the system at all unless they carry a second handheld device with them (I also don’t want to break out my laptop if in Economy as the space is too tight).