American Picks New Seat Back Screens For Long Haul Planes

In June 2019 American ordered 50 Airbus A321XLRs to be delivered between 2023 and 2025, and which are meant to fly to small cities in Europe and to close-in South America. These should also let American Airlines run year-round Europe routes from Philadelphia. These narrowbody planes will get lie flat business class and premium economy.

American also has more larger-type Boeing 787-9s originally scheduled to begin delivery in 2023. These get a new cabin, too, and won’t just be a rehash of their current product. There’s been a lot of speculation about the airline’s new business class seat that’s supposed to debut on this plane.

What we do know now is that American has chosen its inflight entertainment system for both of these new planes, Thales AVANT and its “new line of high-performance Optiq displays, the industry’s first 4K high dynamic range (HDR) seatback screens enhanced with Samsung QLED proprietary technology.” American will be the first customer for this screen which features “more than 1 billion colors.”

The system is capable of Bluetooth connection at each seat, which allows passengers to pair their wireless headphones to the system.

Premium Class seats will enjoy 17-inch displays accompanied with a 5-inch touchscreen handset offering a true second-screen experience. Premium Economy and Economy Class will feature 13.3-inch displays and 11.6-inch displays, respectively.

AVANT will be integrated with American’s high-speed connectivity system to provide digital services and real-time health monitoring & reporting.

American has also selected Thales’ high-power charging solutions, which will give passengers access to both USB type C 60-watt and AC outlets at each seat in all classes.

These new business class screens aren’t larger than the screens American has been putting into planes. Maybe they don’t need to be. The latest screens that go with Super Diamond business class seats on Boeing 777-200 and Boeing 787-9s are 18 inches. So new 787-9s will get a screen that’s an inch smaller. Here’s what American has as the dimensions for screens on each aircraft type,

Concept D (777-200 and 787-8 blk 1) – 16”
Super Diamond (777-200 and 787-9, blk 1) – 18”
Super Diamond (787-8 Blk 2) – 17”
Cirrus (777-300) – 15.4”

F monitor size (777-300) – 19”

Unfortunately 17″ doesn’t serve as a hint about which business class seat they’ve chosen. They can do 17″ screens with Super Diamond seats as well as with other types. There’s been speculation about whether American would go with the current Super Diamond seat and add doors (a la British Airways and Etihad) or go with the highly configurable Adient Ascent seat.

It’s also interesting that they’ve chosen the same screen for widebody business class (787-9) as narrowbody (A321XLR). I’ve assumed that the narrowbody A321XLR would get a different seat than the Boeing 787-9. However they could go with Adient Ascent for the widebody and Adient Aspect for the narrowbody.

Selecting a provider for seat back entertainment and power is a step forward in preparing for new business class seats on aircraft that will be coming into the fleet.

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. Too bad they didn’t keep the A350s that were ordered before the AA/US merger. I had oppty to visit the Flight Training Center in DFW where the flight Sims were housed and had a chance to sit/fly the A350 sim before they decided to dump those orders.

    Years ago, when airlines served meals in coach, people complained.
    Now, meal tray service is gone and they still complain!

  3. Taking my first trip since 2019. I knew that the 737-800 on my LAX-LAS trip next month wouldn’t have IFE.

    Despite all the theories and comments about how bringing your own technology will equal if not surpass the airline’s experience, nobody mentioned that inflight tracking is NOT available on their app or on your own screen.

    I’m expecting comments like “who cares how fast you’re traveling or at what altitude or the temperature outside,” but we each have our preferences and things that help us enjoy our flight.

    I guess I can only hope they’ll someday service this route with a 321T, 777, 787 or 321XLR if not bringing back seatback ife.

  4. Haven’t traveled since 2019. Will miss the seat back on my 737-800 trips next month.

    Despite the apparent preference most have for bringing your own technology, it still won’t offer the inflight tracking I used to enjoy.

    Maybe new management WILL rethink this decision or else I’ll have to wish for more domestic wide body flights. Or else pay for wifi to track on a tracking website.

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