Looks like JetBlue and Virgin America have finally forced the monolithic major carriers to up their games. A few months ago, Delta finally recognized one of the things passengers love about its competitors and announced it would make its in-flight entertainment systems free.
Now American Airlines has finally followed suit.
Previously, the airline offered a paltry complimentary selection of mostly uninteresting TV shows and dusty films, but then charged $4 to $8 for the somewhat current stuff. No longer, the airline says—everything will be free.
American's library currently offers 165 movies, 300 TV shows, 700 albums of music, and 20 games. There was no indication whether that selection will change now that it's not collecting a premium for it.
Astonishingly for the year 2016, only about 280 planes out of American Airlines' fleet of 1,500 are equipped with seat-back screens. About 780 of its planes have Wi-Fi systems that will allow streamed entertainment to personal devices (as long as passengers have the battery power).
By contrast, JetBlue began flying in February 2000 with setback entertainment on 100 percent of its fleet.
So although competition has finally had a small positive effect for the passenger experience on the legacy carriers, we've still got a long, long way to go.
Photo credit: American Airlines