Apple Air: Airline Replaces Built-in Entertainment Systems with iPads

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Mike Harrington / Getty Images

When airlines first started offering built-in entertainment systems, it seemed like a genius move. People no longer had to suffer the indignity of watching the latest Rob Schneider film together with their fellow passengers; now they could plug in and watch whatever they wanted on their own private screen.

The problem with those built-in entertainment systems? They’re pretty heavy. Bloomberg reports that budget airline Scoot reduced the weight of its planes by 7% simply by removing each system and giving passengers a new option — an iPad 2 pre-loaded with 50GB of music, movies and TV shows.

The move is meant to save on fuel, which the airline’s CEO Campbell Wilson says accounts for 40% of its costs. Rising oil prices have recently moved airlines to do everything from instituting new carry-on fees to eliminating extras like snacks.

Sadly, economy passengers will have to pony up $17 to rent an iPad, while those in business class will get them for free. Singapore-based Scoot joins Qantas Airways’ budget airline JetStar in offering passengers iPads.

While cutting fuel costs is the main reason Scoot made the move to tablets, it should also help the airline keep up with current technology. Installing and upgrading built-in entertainment units can’t be cheap; simply replacing an iPad with a newer version seems much more practical, not to mention anything Apple comes up with in the future is bound to be better than the current, clunky airplane systems with unresponsive controls and iffy-at-best screen resolutions.

Not to mention as more airlines add Wi-Fi service, it makes sense to offer passengers a device that can browse the Internet. Lower fuel costs and better technology? Maybe other airlines should be following in Scoot’s footsteps.

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