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United's lack of personal TVs

Melbourne, Australia
Destination Expert
for Philippines
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1,979 reviews
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United's lack of personal TVs

I notice that Unied Airlines is boasting that its Boeing 787s (the so called 'Nightmareliners' that have been beset with so many productioon problems) will be 'greener' because they lack personal AVOD (i.e. TVs) in their economy class seat backs.

United wants to encourage travellers to bring their own 'devices' onboard and use Wi Fi.

One manager said 'we're really excited about this.'

I'm not: another reason why US based airlines remain well behind Asian airlines such as Singapore Airlines.

I don't want to have to purchase a laptop or other device merely to have it knocked off from an hotel room when I travel. It's extra weight, but more importantly another item that's got a value to thieves.

These comments about 'green' are a cover to save money and fuel. United ought to emulate Singapore Airlines whose KrisFlyer seatback entertainment system is advanced and comprehensive. The 'green' swindle is another word for 'increased profits at the expense of giving passengers what they want.'

South Pole
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15,381 posts
36 reviews
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1. Re: United's lack of personal TVs

i have no problem with that.

am happy to take a book or two (as i do now on united trans pacific flights) or just relax and enjoy being away from everything for 14 hours or so.

Destination Expert
for Israel
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2. Re: United's lack of personal TVs

I can count on one hand the number of times my headset actually gets unwrapped from plastic. ( I very quickly run out of fingers and toes if I want to count the number of flights I've been on. )Like lien- a book, my suduko puzzles. Let's get real. A plane is to get you from point A to point B. It isn't a movie theater or a concert hall. How sad that many can no longer spend--even a dozen hours without electronic entertainment of some sort.

Seattle, Washington
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3. Re: United's lack of personal TVs

So don't fly UA. Problem solved.

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14 reviews
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4. Re: United's lack of personal TVs

I happen to love the seat back TV's for our flights. It keeps the kids occupied with Treehouse and Nickleodeon and one more thing to keep them busy for the flight, but I wouldn't choose the flight based on that alone.

Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
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5. Re: United's lack of personal TVs


I think this is a case of "Is that 2 quarters or 50 cents?"

I think they are both right-- depending on how you choose to view it..

Yes, they've chosen to go one direction with the notion that passengers will choose or even want to bring their own content...and on some levels, given the current (and arguably the foreseeable) trends in this regard to things like tablets, smartphones and the like, I think there's some merit in that regard.

Of course, not everyone will like it, not everyone can or will bring their own content-- so I do thin this will be attractive to some, not as much to others..

On the other side.. the 'gong green'.. With the recognition that removing anything of weight from the aircraft, and the overall design of the aircraft, there will be some level of reduced fuel burn....

I think we'll need to wait a while until there is a large enough survey sample about weight and burn issues, to tell us exactly how much savings actually materializes..and in turn was is the actual amount of lowed 'footprint' on the environmental side.

So, just like the first side, I think this idea about going green is also rooted in some level of truth..

I don't personally see this as a swindle.. I see this as United choosing to go one direction.. Time will tell if their decision is right or wrong.. and to what extent that turns out to be..

I also give some thought to the idea of emulation.. I'd agree that a lot of airlines would like to be similar to SQ.. but in many, if not the vast majority, that's structurally not possible..

Why? Remembering that on average, international flying tends to be far more profitable than domestic flying-- for a variety of reasons... So to a degree carriers would be wide, financially speaking, to devote a disproportionately large percentage of their assets into the higher yielding international markets, products, etc.

The structural impossibility I refer to is rooted in the notion that SQ has no, none, zero, domestic service.. As such SQ can devote ALL their resources to higher yielding international flying..

In contrast all major US carriers must maintain their domestic network as that "feeds" their higher yielding flights.. no domestic feed, no international traffic.. and due to this feeder requirement to have and maintain a domestic network, assets must be expended on the domestic side, which then reduces whats left for international.

I've long argued that on paper, regulatory and contractual limitation aside for the moment-- US legacy carriers would be financially smarter to 'farm out' or contract out most non-hub-to-hub flying (as has been the trend) and in turn focus their operation and assets, principally on high margin international.. and a part of that focus would come the investment of higher cost cabins and services.

Travel Safe,

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48 reviews
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6. Re: United's lack of personal TVs

Seatback TVs are an overrated phenomena in my opinion....mostly because Air Canada's are notorious for not actually working, EVER! On my flight last week the Map froze at 56 miles from London and stayed that way until we landed in Calgary!

I now have an iPad (which has never been stolen when I travel) and that is MUCH better - 1) because I am pretty much sure it will always work and 2) because I can chose what I want to watch - I prefer documentaries and intelligent movies to the latest blockbuster.

South Pole
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36 reviews
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7. Re: United's lack of personal TVs

and not having someone continually thumping the back of my seat playing games on the accursed touch (yes, people, it's touch, not thump) screen is just one more advanatge.

thank you united!!

Melbourne, Australia
Destination Expert
for Philippines, Kuala Lumpur
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22,689 posts
1,577 reviews
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8. Re: United's lack of personal TVs

I always bring my laptop when travelling so would welcome wifi...free wifi???

Mines always locked away when Im not in my hotel room and I never carry it around with me as there is no need.Good travel insurance should cover any loss or theft.

But I also have a preference with the Asian Airlines.


Hong Kong, China
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2,329 posts
159 reviews
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9. Re: United's lack of personal TVs

I'm with the OP. Pax should have the option of using the entertainment or not. Selling a BYO option as 'green' is just using weasel words. This makes United more of an LCC.

Thanks to PTVs in airlines such as EK, SQ, MH etc, I've watched many interesting world movies I otherwise wouldn't have seen, or just whiled away the time watching a lighthearted TV show or movie (I use my brain enough at work-- I relish not having to think too hard when jetting off somewhere!)

United are very low on my list, and this cut-price option in Economy (note they don't seem to be very 'green' up the pointy end' is a step back.

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for London
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10. Re: United's lack of personal TVs

I like AVOD, not just for the entertainment but the moving map as well (some of the newer iterations of the latter are very interesting).

But if there were no seatback IFE and no main cabin IFE then, like thousands have done in the past, I would find another way to amuse myself on a long haul flight.

Airlines have removed toothpicks from the meal trays as a cost / weight savings exercise, so discontinuing the IFE equipment could be a substantial slimming down of a plane's tare. Smalll steps taken by many people can lead to large results, so there is method to the green not-in-the-least madness, ie cleverness.