As part of its major post-pandemic strategy, United Airlines has made a huge bet on entertainment in flight.
Chicago-based airline Air Canada is purchasing nearly 300 planes. This latest sign of confidence in the industry’s recovery, and each one will have seatback entertainment screens when they arrive in five years. Passengers don’t need to fly on a new plane in order to enjoy the free entertainment lineup.
United stated that it will add seatback screens for existing narrowbody planes with no screens, except regional aircraft. The airline stated that retrofitting will start next year, and will finish with two of the three planes by 2023.
Today, around a third (38%) of United’s narrowbodies are equipped with seatback screens. Other passengers can stream entertainment from their smartphones and tablets to enjoy onboard.
Toby Envqvist (United’s chief customer officer) said that streaming on your own device was not good enough.
He stated that the airline will offer seatback entertainment at all of its seats.
Inflight entertainment varies by airline. Delta Air Lines has aggressively added seatback screens to planes over the past few years and now has it on nearly all but its smallest planes.
American Airlines has retreated from seatback screens on its narrowbody planes, with just 20% percent now offering it, in favor of an inflight lineup of free entertainment passengers can stream. (Seatback screens are generally standard on most airlines’ long international flights using widebody aircraft.)