Delta took to Twitter to throw some “shade” at American Airlines this week over in-flight-entertainment. How important is IFE to your in-flight experience?
While other airlines remove personal IFE onboard, Delta has added it. Over 600 mainline aircraft offer seatback screens and Delta plans to increase that number, even in the age of streaming audio and video.
United and American Airlines, thus far, have taken an opposite approach. New narrowbody aircraft arrive without seatback IFE. Instead, customers can stream IFE to their laptops or mobile or devices. This, American has said, represents the future of travel and reduces weight and therefore fuel burn.
Even with power ports which can keep devices charged, though, squinting at mobile phones is not the same as an easy-to-use touchscreen positioned in front of you. Furthermore, families do not necessarily have enough mobile devices or tablets for all family members.
Delta recognizes that, which is why it tweeted the following yesterday:
RT if seatback screens are your favorite part about flying.
— Delta (@Delta) May 23, 2019
The subtext of that tweet is news that American Airlines is considering bringing back seatback IFE. AA finds itself in an identity crisis, wondering why it is losing market share. One reason is captured nicely in a discussion by One Mile at a Time: the lack of IFE choices. That reaches the heart of AA’s brand perception. Is AA a premium airline or budget carrier? American itself does not even know…
As AA is floundering over what direction to go, Delta has chosen a clear path – offer IFE, offer the perception of a more premium product, and watch the customers flock to it. This approach seems to be working. Now the question is whether AA will go the Delta route or the Spirit route.