MIAMI — Thursday, Delta Air Lines announced that it has installed seat-back inflight entertainment on its 500th mainline aircraft.
The 500th aircraft is a major milestone for Delta as it pursuits its goal of installing seat-back screens onto over 600 aircraft (Just under 70% of its mainline fleet) by the end of 2018.
“Delta offers customers more aircraft with seatback entertainment than any airline in the world,” said Tim Mapes, Delta’s Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “Providing customers with more choice within their onboard experience sets Delta apart and is another example of Delta listening and responding with new product innovation.”
“Customers tell us that investing in entertainment – whether it’s adding more seat-back screens, offering free entertainment or expanding High-Speed Wi-Fi – is important, so we will continue leading the industry in making these enhancements on board,” Mapes said. “We recognize that Delta customers multi-task, using multiple screens throughout their day, and want to provide choice and flexibility for them to decide how they want to spend their time inflight.”
Most of the aircraft receiving the new screens are older 737s and former Northwest Airlines A319s. The recent wave of 737-900ER and A321 deliveries has also inflated the total number of IFE installed aircraft.
As Delta continues to invest heavily in seat-back screens, American Airlines recently announced that it would not be installing seat-back screens on its upcoming 737 MAX and that it will be taking screens off of every domestic aircraft with the exception of the A321T used on transcontinental flights.
“We know in-flight entertainment is important to our customers, which is why we’ve committed to offering free, streaming high-quality movies and music, and to investing in fast satellite-based Internet access and power at every seat across our domestic fleet,” American Airlines said in a statement to its employees.
The announcement was highly controversial and led many to ask whether American was sacrificing quality for cost savings. Aware of this viewpoint, American told employees in a message “More than 90 percent of our passengers already bring a device or screen with them when they fly. Those phones and tablets are continually upgraded, they’re easy to use, and most importantly they are the technology that our customers have chosen.”
While it is true that most passengers bring their own screens onboard aircraft, personal electronic devices often do not provide the same level of entertainment that IFE systems provide. At the same time, a certain percentage of passengers may not wish to use much of their battery life for the sole purpose of entertainment.