American Hosted a Concert at New York JFK to Highlight New Free Entertainment Options

For New Year’s Eve I went to a Doctuh Mistum theater production of Debbie Does Dallas .. the musical. No sex scenes, they break into song instead. So there was that.

In Austin fireworks were at 10 pm. They called it “family friendly” fireworks, instead of shooting them off at midnight.

At midnight we went to see Sylvan Esso at Lambert’s Downtown Barbecue.

Now, as regular blog readers are aware, of one of the most culturally illiterate people on the planet. After all, I had no idea who Blac Chyna is (and she’s dating a Kardashian!).

But I knew all about Sylvan Esso, because American Airlines.

For the past year American has had frequently updated playlists of Indie musicians for both its boarding and arrival music.

United has Rhapsody in Blue. Etihad has some of the best music to work to. (Although I find that Marvin Gaye makes me super productive, myself..).

And American has indie music that’s both way too hip for me, and makes me more culturally literate (when I pay attention).

Here are some of the ~ 50 new CDs added this month:

Today American hosted a live performance at New York JFK by St. Lucia performing songs from their second album, “Matter” which debuted inflight on American on Monday.

In addition to adding free snacks into economy American is adding free entertainment (movies, television shows, games and music) options to aircraft equipped with seatback systems.

There’s over 130 domestic aircraft with seat-back entertainment. That’s legacy American Airlines Airbus A319s and A321s (and the legacy US Airways A319s that have been reconfigured) as well as the newest Boeing 737s.

American Airlines Airbus A319

They’ve gone from offering NBC shows, children’s content, 12-13 radio channels, and some Fox television shows to offering:

  • ~ 40 movies, 60 television shows, 400 CDs
  • Of these, free shows currently include Gotham, Sleepy Hollow, Big Bang Theory, Glee, Deadliest Catch, Scandal, New Girl, Hannibal, The Good Wife, Through The Worm Hole, Agents of SHIELD

In 2012 I relayed CEO Doug Parker’s comments on inflight entertainment,

He also noted that putting movies on airplanes makes no sense anymore, since everyone has their own entertainment. He could see streaming it to individuals’ players, but not installing equipment at each seat.

So I find it really interesting that American is investing here. I have my own device. And I bring my own entertainment. So I don’t value seatback entertainment. Streaming video, which lets customers access content via their own devices, I get.

But I know that a lot of people really do value entertainment on demand. With fuel prices low the cost of carrying these heavy devices isn’t as high.

Passengers do get a better experience. And I get cultural literacy. At some level I feel more plugged in by flying American, which I suppose says more about me than it does about them.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. How about the old 777’s? Do you think (I hope!) they have upgraded the entertainment system on those old birds? I am stuck on the old 777 in business over to Rome in August..

  2. In a recent survey, built-in IFE was preferred by 70% of respondents. Less than 20% go through the hassle of preloading content, viewing it on a small tablet, balancing it on a small tray with the meal, and plugging in the cords. And probably those who do they do it because (like you) fly decrepit planes of the US3 which don’t offer individual screens on many (most) of their flights.

  3. American could improve its IFE music programming immeasurably by simply adding a song title function. I hate listening to their long sets of music with no artist or song title information provided.

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