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Airlines Are Getting Rid of Screens Thanks to Smartphones

Fortune logo Fortune 2/16/2017 Abigail Abrams

The interior of the economy class of the new Airbus A350 XWB is pictured during a presentation in Hamburg, northern Germany on April 07, 2014. European aircraft manufacturing company Airbus presented the interior of its future A350 which - according to the company - will offer "more personal space, flexibility and comfort" than other aircrafts in its class. AFP PHOTO / PATRICK LUX (Photo credit should read PATRICK LUX/AFP/Getty Images) © Provided by TIME Inc. The interior of the economy class of the new Airbus A350 XWB is pictured during a presentation in Hamburg, northern Germany on April 07, 2014. European aircraft manufacturing company Airbus presented the interior of its future A350 which - according to the company - will offer "more personal space, flexibility and comfort" than other aircrafts in its class. AFP PHOTO / PATRICK LUX (Photo credit should read PATRICK LUX/AFP/Getty Images) Any regular traveler knows that in-flight entertainment is an important part of making long flights enjoyable. But soon, the way you get that entertainment could change.Airlines are increasingly phasing out the screens on the back of every seat, the New York Times reports. With the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, airlines have found that they can provide in-flight entertainment by streaming movies and other content through a wireless service instead.Virtually everyone is connected at all times on the ground today, Jon Cobin, the chief commercial officer at Gogo, which provides Wi-Fi service on more than 2,900 commercial planes, told the Times. That behavior doesn't change when you get in the air.Seat screens add weight to the plane, which means the plane burns more fuel and ultimately costs airlines more money. Only two national airlines in the U.S. - JetBlue and Virgin America - still have seat-back screens on every plane, according to Bloomberg. Just last month, American Airlines  said it was getting rid of screens on 100 new Boeing 737 Max jets.If you're scheduled to travel someplace far in the next few days, don't worry: Airline experts don't expect in-flight entertainment to disappear overnight.The thing with the airline industry is nothing happens quickly, Jason Rabinowitz, the director of airline research for Routehappy, a company that tracks airline amenities, told the Times. The only thing that moves quickly is the aircraft itself.

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