This Internal “Tell Me Why” Podcast Taught Me Two Things About American Airlines

American’s new ‘Tell Me Why’ podcast is live with its third episode. While it’s geared towards employees and posted to their internet Jetnet system it’s also available on iTunes and soundcloud.

For the third episode Vice President of Communications Ron DeFeo interviews Kurt Stache, American’s head of marketing who used to run AAdvantage, about the airline’s inflight product and mostly inflight entertainment.

One tidbit is that they’re planning to have high speed internet on the 767s (and 757s) which tells me they’ve finally (formally) made the decision to keep the older widebodies around for awhile rather than retiring them. I have to think the 767s will get a seat power update too, then.

Stache talks about adding live TV (‘recreating the living room experience’) on aircraft with satellite internet and explains that American is saving hundreds of millions of dollars not putting seat back TVs in planes (not to mention saving weight and thus fuel). They believe seat back TVs will be “obsolete in 3-5 years” of course in the mean time of course families of 5 who don’t have 5 iPads are hosed.

Finally about the need for customers to engage in their streaming content via the airline’s app because of studio digital rights management requirements. Not discussed is that they aren’t able to gain access to the latest first run movies in their streaming deals. American needs to do a better job communicating with customers in advance the need to download their app to access content inflight.

I wasn’t aware that the final decision had been made to (1) keep the 767s, though the bread crumbs have been there for awhile, and (2) add satellite internet to the 767s. American hasn’t really talked up the capability for live TV either. Give it a listen:

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. He says “at a price point” which means they will charge for IFE which is wrong. IFE should be free. Plus IFE provides the map showing where we are, the outside temperature, altitude, heading, closest cities, etc. only items the plane can provide and if the seat-back screens are gone, we will not have that.

  2. Yea, more American Ducks (you know what I mean). I really appreciate Gary digging up this info. If it weren’t United, American would be the most Duckiest airline in the USA.

  3. Are the airlines that remove seat back video systems going to pay for added TSA security lines at the airports since everybody will be carrying some sort of “entertainment” device with them and that will mean slower security (think about that family of 5 you mentioned – phones, tablets, toys….)

  4. three comments:
    (Carlos) why should IFE be free? someone has to pay for the system and the streaming data, you are using it.. so you should pay.. but I guess you also think the whole flight should be free..
    Gary 1: if this was meant as an internal podcast, whyTF are you making it public? I would love to see the airline sue YOU for violation of internal information.
    Gary 2: Living room experience… yeah that’s what air travel needs.. it’s not bad enough morons are flying around in their pyjamas in public.. now they will get nice and comfy, and start scratching their nethers, and taking their clothes off, passing gases, flicking boogers, just like at home…

  5. @Colby: It has been free and it is free whether you watch on the seatbacks or on your hand-held device. You sound very angry. You sound like you work for American Airlines. I am not going to engage with you. Sorry.

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