United Airlines flight attendant Tina looks at personal entertainment systems on the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner during a tour of the jet at Los Angeles International Airport.
United Airlines flight attendant Tina looks at personal entertainment systems on the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner during a tour of the jet at Los Angeles International Airport. - 
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Airlines have noticed that people increasingly bring their own entertainment with them onboard, on their mobile devices. That means the nature of in-flight entertainment is changing, too.

In fact, the future of in-flight entertainment could be BYOD: bring your own device.

Airline consultant Jay Sorensen sees a lot of people doing that already.  

“Before they get on the airplane, they’re gonna load up their device,” says Sorensen, president of IdeaWorks Company. “They’ll get caught up on all the past episodes of House of Cards onboard the airplane.”

That’s why airlines like Delta and United have invested in systems that stream in-flight entertainment straight to your mobile device. They see economy class passengers bypassing their seat-back screens. And they’re not alone.

Doing away with seat-back screens altogether would be lighter and cheaper for airlines, which Henry Harteveldt of Atmosphere Research Group says already pay a lot for content.

“The movies and TV shows and music that we watch and listen to aren’t provided free,” he says. “Airlines license that. And it can cost them several millions of dollars a year, per airline.”

If all this TV-watching threatens to drain your battery, don’t worry. Harteveldt says airlines are also installing more plugs. 

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