American Airlines CEO: United And Delta Could Force Us To Put In Seat Back Entertainment

American Airlines Chairman and CEO Doug Parker told employees that on Thursday, they will be looking at United's new plan for seatback video screens. This is in addition to Deltas existing screens. He believes this could lead to the airline having to reinstall seat back screens.American Airlines is now clearly on the defensive about its domestic inflight product. It has two inches less space than Southwest Airlines, and the seats have no padding. There are also no personal video screens. Delta has always been committed to screen at every seat. United announced that they will be ordering new domestic planes with screens and also plan to retrofit existing aircraft to provide them.Last week, Robert Isom, the American airline president, avoided a question from a journalist about whether they regretted removing these screens from aircrafts. He said he wanted to be able to concentrate on what we have.He is focusing on high-speed wifi and a plan for bringing back live TV. He argues that screens don't need to be there (because everyone has one) and that they are too heavy and polluting the environment (since more fuel is burned by screens). It's not satisfying.Uniteds fleet retrofit program addresses the internet deficit of Delta, who was just as committed to high-speed wifi.The airline won't commit publicly to a time frame for live TV, which they didn't offer when they did.The airline is also adding seats to its planes, which increase weight and fuel consumption. This makes the environmental claim seem even more absurd.Employees aren't satisfied with the answers. They asked about America's competitive response, since other major U.S. airlines are offering something that many passengers find superior.It was April that the Americans Chief Commercial Officer ridiculed United's plans to add video screens to each seat. She can't believe United is now ordering hundreds of new planes.She answered the employee question by arguing that American had to choose between great wifi and seat back video. We chose the latter because it allows us to offer rich, up-to-date content.Parker said that we monitor the competition and adapt if it is something that customers value.We believe that the future will be bright if we find this issue. It will be easier when we have the time and others are working on it. We don't think it makes sense to install hard-wired seatback devices in airplanes with the same wifi as ours. We will continue to monitor the situation and if it becomes a problem we can quickly and easily respond. They have years to determine if it does. If it does, we will be in a very good position to respond.Now, United and Delta will use wireless technology to stream to their seat back screens. It is only one-third as expensive as the wired systems. This is not a future technology.It is encouraging to hear that the CEO is open to the possibility of learning from mistakes made four years ago by the airline. After removing screens from old planes, the airline fails to learn Jeff Bezos' lesson which is to concentrate on customers and not competitors. Because it is only after American passengers are left behind in passenger experience, that they will even consider changing their course.