I came across this article written by the features editor of The Independent Traveler, Ed Hewitt, and just had to share. Enjoy!
This week did not disappoint. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, US Airways is going to eliminate in-flight movies from all domestic flights beginning this fall.
For years, the big airlines scoffed at the discount upstarts for failing to offer sufficient customer amenities, but the tables are rapidly turning, the playing field leveling and the superiority of the Big Six (or "legacy carriers") fading all the time. Jet Blue still offers in-flight DIRECTV; meanwhile, US Airways joins "lowly" -- yet still beloved of travelers -- Southwest Airlines in offering no in-flight movies.
Why? Instead of telling it straight -- they're trying to make more money -- US Airways first blames fuel costs before fessing up; even their spokesperson seems to know that the fuel expense gambit isn't going to cut it on this one.
But let's take them at their word -- for now -- and do the math. In-flight entertainment systems weigh about 500 pounds. A Boeing 747 weighs about 393,000 pounds dry and empty. When fully loaded, it weighs over 800,000 pounds. Most of the US Airways fleet that would be affected consists of Airbus A-320 planes, with a maximum takeoff weight of 169,000 pounds. So the video equipment on a 747 is about 0.06 percent of the total weight; on US Airways' A-320's, it is just about 0.29 percent of the total weight.
How much additional drag does a fraction of a percent of additional weight create? I'm not an aeronautical engineer, and don't have the space or wherewithal to go into drag coefficients, so let's simplify things for the sake of argument: If a passenger weighs 200 pounds, the equivalent of 0.3 percent of his body weight is 0.59 pounds -- less than a can of soda.
We travelers may look dumb, and we may act dumb, but we still know that a single can of soda isn't going to make much difference, even if we could flap our arms and take flight.
Under pressure, US Airways did mention some other, more valid concerns: the number of people purchasing headphones (which, ahem, used to be free) has declined, and they do have to pay the movie companies for the right to show the films, an expense they will eliminate. With all these cuts in service, though, we do notice that executive pay is keeping pace with mogul standards quite nicely, of course. Movies, bad; obscenely bloated bonuses, doubleplusgood. But since the video equipment has to go, can we ask that the in-flight video commercials featuring said moguls that we're forced to endure are jettisoned as well? If so, there is a silver lining after all.