While I don't mind shorter flights without IFE, I am the type of person that cannot just read for 4+ hours. It is nice to have multiple distractions on the plane to pass the time. For the same price (which is a very common occurrence) I would fly UA
across the country because of IFE. The MD
-80s are quieter due to the engine placement, but if you actually look at the decibels of noise in the first class cabin between an A320 and MD
-80, the noise level is about the same. The MD
-80s have horrible wind noise problems. They are silent on take off, but at 500mph, they get just as loud as planes with wing mounted engines. Also many of the the MD
-80s have small overhead compartments, which is really annoying for business travelers that have large suitcases and laptop cases. Overall the MD
-80 is a toss up. It has the benefit of a perceived quieter cabin and 5 abreast seating, but loses in passenger space (in first class due to narrower cabin), storage space and IFE. With the loss of MRTC, there is really nothing special about MD
-80 flights. DigE players will help solve one drawback, and having expanded overhead compartments could help another.
To all of those that argue that IFE is useless; IFE does add more revenue because if just one person buys a UA
seat vs a AA
seat on SEA
because of IFE then AA
did lose revenue. The big question is whether or not the small revenue benefit of having IFE outweighs its costs of installation, maintenance and weight penalties. NW
feel that it is not necessary for the clientele that they want.
Adding IFE does nothing to the person that reads a book, but it does help others. It is not like people depend on it, but some people (including me) appreciate it as another distraction on an otherwise boring flight. Listening to wind blow and looking out a window or reading a book for 4 hours isn't perfect for everyone. And airlines can benefit from catering to everyone, not the specific group that enjoys reading. There is no reason to complain about it being a distraction, since for most people, distractions is what they want on an airplane because for most it is boring. The occasional good movie shown can make a flight go by better. Of course CBS Eye on American and other stupid programs that are just add placements don't really serve a purpose, but overall IFE does generate some revenue, just usually not enough in a price sensitive market. I
f JetBlue can gain passengers by having such a good IFE system (and of course they have) then AA
loses out in that possible situation because JetBlue offers a more desirable product for some. In an overly competitive market, you want to have a good product because the major airlines often match each other's prices, so a good product does make a difference. I am willing to be that most people would fly BA
over Ryanair if the fares were the same because of product differentiation. If AA
only wants business travelers that like to read books or own laptops, then that is fine for them, but I am willing to bet that they are not willing to alienate so many people just because they can-they are doing it because they have judged that adding IFE is too expensive to justify it.
If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!