You are now free to enjoy your in-flight entertainment, uninterrupted.
The world’s largest airline, American Airlines, plans to stop on-board announcements of connecting gate information as flights prepare to land.
The change, effective Tuesday, is a concession that technology has rendered the announcements moot, as passengers now travel equipped with an array of Internet-connected gadgets. American also displays gate information via the seat-back screens on its newer aircraft.
“There’s a lot of ways to get that information, and it wasn’t necessarily helpful to provide that on the airplane,” American spokesman Joshua Freed said.
The announcements also irritated some passengers, he acknowledged, especially for anyone potentially engrossed in a movie or Deadliest Catch. “Some people certainly viewed it as an interruption,” he said, “so for those folks, we’ll stop interrupting them.”
Charlotte Douglas International Airport is the second-busiest hub for American Airlines, after Dallas/Fort Worth.
Delta Air Lines and United Continental said they ended these announcements several years ago. The former US Airways, which merged with American in 2014, had not offered them, Freed said. Southwest Airlines, which carries less connecting traffic than its hub-and-spoke rivals, generally leaves gate details to its flight attendants’ discretion, based on their other workloads, a spokeswoman said.
The relic’s demise is yet another sign technology is gradually removing humans from the more rote aspects of travel.
Wireless tech has been embraced by flight attendants, who have access to far more information today about customers and flight operations via tablets and smartphones than they have had in the past. These gadgets-iPhones at United, Samsung for American, the Nokia Lumia at Delta-allow airlines to track customers much more closely.
Delta, for example, uses a “guest service tool” to code each cabin so flight attendants can retrieve details on each passenger, including his status in the carrier’s frequent-flier program.
On flights where there is a tight connecting time, a passenger’s seat on the device will change color to alert the crew. A flight attendant can then discuss the location of the next flight or alternate plans with the customer, spokesman Michael Thomas said. “You click the (passenger’s) seat assignment, and it will show connecting gate and time of departure,” he said of the software.