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American Airlines Introduces New Inflight Entertainment System

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James Larounis

James Larounis

Senior Content Contributor

Countries Visited: 30U.S. States Visited: 35

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in...

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While American Airlines is famous for removing inflight entertainment systems, the airline has recently announced a new system that will be installed on select aircraft.

New High-definition Systems From Thales

On aircraft designed for use on long-haul routes, inflight entertainment provider Thales will be providing high-definition screens and associated audio capabilities, leapfrogging American Airlines to having one of the best systems in the sky once these aircraft leave the assembly lines.

The new inflight entertainment systems will be installed on the Boeing 787-9 and A321XLR. The Boeing 787-9 will fly most of American’s truly long-haul routes, while the A321XLR will focus on, in some cases, shorter, “thinner” routes where there might not be as much capacity, but it would still be deserving of recurring service.

Each seat will offer a 4K dynamic range HDR monitor — in all classes of service, creating a crisp screen picture to watch movies, televisions shows, and more. In the premium cabin (usually known as Flagship business class), the seats will have 17-inch displays, and a 5-inch touchscreen handset so you can select among the entertainment choices available. In Premium Economy (where offered), you’ll have a 13.3-inch screen, and in Main Cabin the seats will offer a smaller 11.6-inch display. Regardless of which cabin you’re in, you should have a large enough screen to watch your favorite shows from.

New seatback screens are coming to all classes of service on Boeing 787-9 and A321XLR planes. While images of the new system haven’t been released, the systems will offer a sharper picture, better audio, and larger screens. Image Credit: American Airlines

Bluetooth Audio Functionality

In addition to having new monitors, each seat will also be equipped with Bluetooth audio functionality. Currently, you need to plug in your headphone’s cables to the seat to listen to any programming, but the new seats will offer a wireless Bluetooth function, perfect for pairing with a pair of wireless Bose noise-canceling headphones or your Apple AirPods, for example.

More Charging Options

Each seat will also come installed with both USB-A (the larger, traditional USB port) and USB-C charging capabilities (the smaller format, most often found on newer computers). As USB-A becomes more and more outdated, it’s nice to have the more modern plug-in available for charging.

Why Is Inflight Entertainment Important?

On longer flights, it’s especially important to have built-in entertainment to keep passengers comfortable and entertained, allowing them to pass the time. Some customers don’t come to the flight with content downloaded on their device, or may not have a device at all, so inflight entertainment screens provide options to all travelers.

Final Thoughts

While American has been consistently known for removing entertainment screens from domestic aircraft, it is nice to see the airline finally make the investment in a go0d-quality system, even if just for longer international flights. Unfortunately, we won’t see these systems roll out right away, as American expects the necessary plane orders to come in over the next few years.

About James Larounis

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in dozens of travel publications.


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