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Canada airline WestJet leads way in swapping seat back screens for tablets

WestJet_737-700_at_YUL2Low-cost airline WestJet has announced it plans to do away with seat-back entertainment and introduce onboard wireless streams for media and games.  The vice-president of the Canadian carrier told reporters that the bulk of passengers taking flights had Apple or Android devices with them. 

Richard Bartrem continued by saying many passengers preferred to use these as their entertainment source. He explained that scrapping in-flight entertainment devices on long-haul flights would be a win-win for passengers as they would be getting the services they wanted and WestJet would be able to further reduce the price of tickets for them.

Mr Bartrem explained that aircraft without seat-back media players were 680kgs lighter and therefore fuel bills would be reduced. Airline industry analysts say WestJet is at the vanguard of a move that will eventually see all budget airlines scrap in-flight entertainment on their long-haul flights.

The wireless system aboard the carrier’s aircraft is WestJet Connect and it will give those with handheld devices access to a rotating library of 450 television shows and films. There will be no issue with batteries or power-banks dying as seats are fitted with power sockets for recharging.

UK travellers could be the first to experience WestJet’s innovation as the carrier will launch transatlantic flights between six Canadian airports and London Gatwick Airport on 6 May 2016. When WestJet announced the new flights its statement claimed one-way tickets would be as low as £139 per person.

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