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Why Planes Have No More Seatback Screens?

Touchscreen Display Market

ICT | Nov, 2023

In-Flight entertainment keeps the passengers happy and distracted, and it’s a great timepass for the passengers especially who are traveling for more than 5 or 6 hours. But this is no more the case, as most of the planes have no seatback screens available anymore.

Well, yes you heard it right airplanes have been contracting their seats for quite a while, expecting to diminish the planes' weight and crush in more travellers. Be that as it may, recently, a few airlines have been going above and beyond in updating their seats; They're taking the seatback screens away. 

No More In-Flight Entertainment? But Why?

Cost Cutting Being the Major Reason:

According to the airlines, these screens are costly to install, typically averaging around $10,000 per seat, which amounts to a substantial expense. Additionally, they require regular updates and incur high maintenance costs. Some airlines have started considering removing these screens to save on costs.

Overweight Of the Seats:

Airlines contend that these screens contribute to the overall weight of the seats. In order to reduce the aircraft's weight and make more room for passengers, some carriers have chosen to remove these screens.

Customers Now Bring Their Own Devices:

According to the airlines, a significant number of their customers now bring their own devices for entertainment. With the prevalence of smartphones, which offer a wide range of content, passengers prefer to listen to their playlists or watch TV series of their choice, rendering in-flight entertainment less essential. As a result, airlines have made the decision to remove seat screens.

Whenever we are travelling for a short duration, we always make a choice of our seat at the time of collecting the boarding pass, because we always look for a comfort zone. So, same is the case for passengers who are travelling in long flights that they always look for a seat with screens to watch movies, TV shows or to listen music.

Another reason passengers may hesitate to use their smartphones, despite airlines assuming everyone carries one, is the fear of draining their phone's battery before reaching their destination. Not all flights, especially domestic ones, offer phone charging options, further discouraging personal device usage for entertainment. Without screens for entertainment, passengers may end up simply gazing at fellow travelers, which might not align with the airlines' intentions.

Environmental Considerations:

As airlines strive to become more environmentally responsible and sustainable, reducing the weight and complexity of in-flight entertainment systems becomes a priority. The aviation industry is under increasing pressure to reduce its carbon footprint and minimize its impact on the environment. Thus, eliminating seatback screens is one way to align with these sustainability goals. It directly reduces the weight of the aircraft, which, as discussed earlier, has a positive effect on fuel efficiency and emissions. This aligns with broader industry efforts to make air travel more eco-friendly and reduce the environmental impact of aviation.

Reduced Technical Failures:

Seatback screens are electronic devices that can experience technical issues and failures. When a screen malfunctions, it can lead to passenger dissatisfaction and discomfort. By removing these screens, airlines can reduce the frequency of technical problems that might otherwise disrupt the passenger experience. This also translates into fewer in-flight entertainment-related complaints and maintenance calls.

Simplified In-Flight Service:

For cabin crew, dealing with seatback screens and the associated systems can add complexity to their duties. By eliminating these screens, cabin crew can simplify their in-flight service routines, making it easier to attend to passengers' needs, particularly during meal services and safety demonstrations. This streamlining of service can lead to more efficient operations and improved passenger service.

Seamless Internet Connectivity:

As airlines invest in improved in-flight Wi-Fi services, passengers can connect to the internet and stream content even without seatback screens. This can lead to greater passenger satisfaction, as they have access to their favorite online services, social media, and communication tools during the flight. Airlines can market their Wi-Fi connectivity as a premium service, generating additional revenue.

According to TechSci Research Report “Aircraft Seating Market - Global Industry Size, Share, Trends, Opportunity, and Forecast, 2018-2028, Segmented By Aircraft Type (Narrow-Body Aircraft, Wide-body Aircraft, Regional Aircraft, Business Aircraft), By Class (Economy, Premium Economy Class, Business Class, First Class), By Seat Type (Pilot /Co-pilot Seats, Cabin Crew Seats, Passenger Seats), By Gravity (9G & 16G), By End Use (OEM, Replacement) and By Region”, global aircraft seating market stood at USD1,877.27 million in 2022 and it is expected to register a CAGR of 7.25%, in value terms, over the next five years, on the back of growing passenger air travel, need for lightweight and durable seats, and the increasing rate of replacement of existing aircraft fleets across the world. Furthermore, the market is projected to be valued at USD2,821.85 million in 2028.