The carrier said it won’t feature seat-back video screens on the aircraft because almost all travelers now carry mobile phones, tablets and laptops.

Share story

Passengers who want to watch a movie on American Airlines’ new Boeing 737 MAX better bring a device to watch it on.

The carrier said it won’t feature seat-back video screens on the aircraft because almost all travelers now carry mobile phones, tablets and laptops. Satellite-based systems have improved onboard internet speed and access, which will enhance the viewing experience, the airline said.

“More than 90 percent of our passengers already bring a device or screen with them when they fly,” American told workers Tuesday. “Those phones and tablets are continually upgraded, they’re easy to use and, most importantly, they are the technology our customers have chosen.”

The move marks a reversal for CEO Doug Parker, who said less than a year ago that American would have seat-back screens on all its planes to remain competitive. The carrier this year will receive the first four of its 100 MAX aircraft. A decision hasn’t been made on whether to extend the policy to other new planes.

Video screens will remain on planes used for international flights, American’s three-class Airbus A321T and some single-aisle planes used for specific flights.

Movies and television shows in American’s onboard library and live television can be viewed on devices at no charge, the airline said. Satellite connections to use the internet, text or access on-demand video will be available for a fee from gate to gate.

Plans call for American to have satellite-based Wi-Fi on half its single-aisle fleet by summer 2018, with full installation by the end of 2019. Half the domestic narrowbody fleet will have power at every seat by the end of 2018.

Some United flights cut newspapers

Fewer people start each morning with a cup of coffee and a newspaper at their kitchen tables. They’re also skipping the ritual in-flight, according to United Airlines.

The airline, which used to offer international passengers in first and business classes a selection of newspapers, has canceled its subscriptions.

Most customers simply weren’t interested, said United spokeswoman Maddie King.

“Reading habits have changed. Most customers are already connected when they’re traveling and are consuming news on mobile devices,” particularly now that more flights have Wi-Fi on board, she said.

On an online forum where some passengers noted the papers’ absence, a few seemed disappointed, if not surprised, by the switch.

Others said they were just as happy to read on a laptop or tablet, or pleased they’d hear fewer passengers noisily unfurling the pages.

United isn’t abandoning print entirely.

A selection of newspapers still will be available in United’s lounges, and its magazine, Hemispheres, will remain in travelers’ seat-back pockets, King said.

United gives customers in its United Clubs free access to a range of digital publications through an app called Foli, but has no plans to add a similar in-flight service, King said.