United CEO Credits His 7-Year-Old Son For Seatback Entertainment In Every Seat

Scott Kirby, United CEO, wants you to know that Scott Kirby was right on time when it came to placing screens at each seat onboard. He also credits his 7 year-old son with showing passengers how important seatback entertainment can be to all sizes and ages.United Airlines Seatback Entertainment A Long-Term QuestUnited Airlines announced today a large aircraft order. It also announced that it will install personal screens at each seat of every narrowbody aircraft. The retrofit project is expected to be completed by 2025.Kirby explained that he has been pushing for screens for decades, but that his 7-year old son convinced him that screens made sense.Kirby spoke to journalists and bloggers about the new order of aircraft.At my previous airline, I had seatback screens installed. They were removed when I left.Kirby said that he convinced the America West Board in the 2000s to have live TV on their fleet. This connectivity was only available onboard JetBlue at the time. JetBlue discovered that America West was doing something and bought LiveTV, the company behind its entertainment system in-flight.JetBlue managed to keep LiveTV between 2002 and 2014, before it was sold to Thales.American Airlines added seatback screens on many of its jets, but Kirby saw them removed when he flew to United Airlines.Kirby claims he supported these screens all his life, but he attributes it to his seven-year old son who convinced him to add them the United narrowbody fleet.According to Kirby's wife and 7-year old flew first class on a recent flight, while Kirby and his other children flew back. This is what it looks like.His son, who was a passenger on the plane with him, played Battleship. (You can challenge other passengers on certain IFE system to a game onboard) He won two of three games. When the flight landed, he was thrilled and grinning from ear to ear. He couldn't talk about anything else.Kirby points out (and I can attest to this as the father of a 4-year-old boy) that children are so engaged with seatback entertainment even when they don't watch TV.Kirby claims screens are something customers value and will make United more popular and distinguish us from our competitors. However, Delta Air Lines (JetBlue) also offer seatback screens throughout their fleet. United is in good company.CONCLUSIONKirby says he supports seatback screens for more than 20 years. But it was his 7-year old son who demonstrated why this is important. My own experience has shown me that customers love seatback entertainment, and will use it if offered.