Topic of the Week: American Adds Tablets as Inflight Entertainment

American, Inflight Entertainment

American has decided to ditch its existing portable inflight entertainment system and go with the cooler Samsung Galaxy tablet instead. This may only be in places where American has a portable system today, but it’s a big upgrade. Now for the question . . . how many will get stolen on every flight? Any guesses?

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19 comments on “Topic of the Week: American Adds Tablets as Inflight Entertainment

  1. Even NetJets had a problem with rich folks walking off with portable DVD players… I hope AA isn’t foolish enough to do this without some sort of check out or rental system, but than again, it’s AA so I wouldn’t be surprised.

    Even if AA can work out something to where the tablet is made useless if taken off the plane (system wipe etc), you’ll still lose 1 per 10 flights.

  2. Back in the day of knuckle-buster credit slips, this would have been easy. Run the slip, return it when the unit is returned.

    With electronic readers now (my CO branded Chase card doesn’t even have raised numbers) that won’t work. I, for one, woudn’t trust the airline accounting system to never accidentally charge me for a returned device and how would I ever argue that I did, in fact, return it.

    I suppose they could collect driver’s license or passport and return that (not that they can be converted to cash, but the replacement hassle is probably greater than the device value for most users).

    So, unless they are willing to take the risk (or Samsung is, as a marketing plan) then I’ll stick with my laptop and my own entertainment.

  3. American already hands out Bose headphones in business and first class (and an older portable video set as well, I think — can’t speak from experience), and the flight attendants collect them before landing. I imagine it’s not too hard because every passenger in the premium cabins gets one, so they have to collect one from every seat.

    Collecting them after landing would be an ineffective zoo, I’m sure.

  4. I used to fly Finnair long-haul back when they had MD-11s and handed out PSPs in both business and economy. Their take was to simply jot down which seat you were sitting in and then they would later come back and ask you to return your PSP. No credit cards needed.

  5. At Alaska we’ve been passing out the digEplayer IFE for years. As long as you know the seat number then it’s no problem collecting them.

  6. Good move, AA. I flew DFW-LHR on the 767-300, and the IFE device was in need of replacement.

    I do wonder, though, if they’ll create a “rack” where the device can be housed in the seatback (as happens with the current device) so that the passenger doesn’t have to keep the tablet on the tray table or in his lap. If you want to watch a movie during dinner, the tray table thing could be annoying.

  7. AA is pretty tight with keeping controls on things they hand out in the cabin. The F/A’s stalk you pretty viciously for the Bose headsets prior to landing. I’m sure something will eventually slip by, but I don’t see theft being a huge issue with these.

  8. We gave out Bose headsets and little movie players at Eos, and shrinkage wasn’t a big problem for some reason. They broke more than they were stolen, I think – we were always sending the players in for repairs and having to replace the headphones. And of course they had logos, and of course anyone who could afford to fly Eos didn’t need to resort to theft to get things like that anyway.

    The software in the movie players was locked down pretty well though I think, so they may not have been something people wanted to keep as much as a tablet.

    1. @Nicholas, IAMA Android dev. It would have to be a software reset, Android doesn’t give you the ability to something on charging automatically because to the device: a charger is a charger is a charger.

      They will probably secure it but using some customized crapware skin that doesn’t let you do much. The devices do have the ability to give GPS coordinates so they could install Prey (basically open source version of FindMyMac/iPhone) (

      It allows you to remotely lock down or get GPS coord from the tablet once it gets back on WIFI.

  9. Lots of good discussion on this one. FWIW, I was at United when it started handing out DVD players in the premium cabin on p.s. flights between JFK and LA/SF. These DVD players were Region 8, so they couldn’t play any discs that you could buy in a store, yet these things disappeared all the time. One of the purpose-built systems like digEplayer isn’t as interesting to people because they don’t think they can do anything with it – it’s not something you can buy on the ground.

    So I really do hope AA figures out a way to keep better hold on these.

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