Photographer: Mark Elias/Bloomberg

American Air Drops Seat-Back Video Screens on New Boeing Max

  • Other planes, including international fleet, won’t be affected
  • Carrier says most passengers now carry electronic devices

Passengers who want to watch a movie on American Airlines Group Inc.’s new 737 Max better bring a device to watch it on.

The carrier said it won’t feature seat-back video screens on the Boeing Co. aircraft because almost all travelers now carry mobile phones, tablets and laptops. Satellite-based systems have improved on-board internet speed and access, which will enhance the viewing experience, the Fort Worth, Texas-based airline said.

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

The move marks a reversal for Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker, who said less than a year ago that American would have seat-back screens on all of its planes to remain competitive. The carrier this year will receive the first four of its 100 Max aircraft. A decision hasn’t been made on whether to extend the policy to other new planes.

Video screens will remain on planes used for international flights, American’s three-class Airbus SE A321T and some single-aisle planes used for specific flights.

Movies and television shows in American’s on-board library and live television can be viewed on devices at no charge, the airline said. Satellite connections to use the Internet, text or access on-demand video will be available for a fee from gate to gate.

Plans call for American to have satellite-based Wi-Fi on half its single-aisle fleet by the summer of 2018, with full installation by the end of 2019. Half the domestic narrowbody fleet will have power at every seat by the end of 2018.

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