The End of In-Flight Entertainment?

Entertainment

London – Seat-back screens that have long been part of in-flight entertainment systems are preparing to depart from many airplanes, American experts say, and will be replaced eventually by content streamed to passengers’ electronic devices through improved wireless service.

With built-in screens, airliners have been providing passengers with a set menu of entertainment content of music and videos for decades with a few movies played on a loop.

Experts say that by streaming content over wireless systems, passengers will have a wider array of content and the carriers will not have to maintain screens because passengers will bring their own portable devices on board.

Jon Cobin, the chief commercial officer at Gogo, which provides Wi-Fi service on more than 2,900 commercial planes, said in an email that “virtually everyone is connected at all times on the ground today.”

By one estimate, in-flight entertainment systems are the biggest expense in outfitting a new plane and can make up 10 percent of the entire cost of an aircraft, despite that screens and their wiring add weight to the plane.

Another financial incentive: Without the screens, carriers can install slimmer seats, which means they can accommodate more passengers and earn more money, Brett Snyder, the author of the airline industry blog “Cranky Flier,” said