Speed Reads

Say it ain't so

Could airlines soon get rid of seat-back screens?

If that little black screen installed a few precious inches from your face is the only thing that keeps you from losing your mind every time you buckle in for a long flight, you're in for some bad news: Last month, American Airlines announced it won't be installing seat-back entertainment systems on its new Boeing 737 planes — about 100 new passenger jets it plans to have in use by the end of the year.

And that might just be the beginning: "Most aviation watchers expect that the technology will become obsolete at some point in the coming years, as more people fly with their own devices," The Economist reports.

American Airlines says about 90 percent of passengers now carry their own smartphone or tablet with them on every flight. The screens cost about $3 million to install per jetliner, and the added weight from wiring and bulkier seats — which together can add as much as 600 extra pounds per plane — makes the aircraft less fuel-efficient. Instead, the airline's new fleet will include power outlets and free access to an online library of movies and shows during the flight — as long as you pay for the Wi-Fi, about $16 plus tax for the day.