American Airlines: Weird iPod Wannabe For First Class Customers

In the never ending battle to see who can widen the disparity between coach and First Class the most, American Airlines has stepped in with the following new First/Business Class Only amenity: A weird-looking iPod wannabe media player thing. Yeah, really.

From American Airlines press release:

The introduction of the media players on transcontinental flights on May 1 is part of American’s plan to invest in the customer experience for passengers flying in the First Class and Business Class cabins and to continue to bolster the airline’s competitive position. Passengers this month will begin seeing the new personal entertainment media players on Boeing 767-200 and 767-300 aircraft flying transcontinental routes between New York and Los Angeles and between New York and San Francisco. In addition, the media players will appear on 767-300 aircraft on the Miami-San Francisco route in June.

“We’ve seen the popularity of personal entertainment media players continue to grow over the last few years, and we brought this same concept onboard our transcontinental flights to continue to improve the overall customer experience,” said Lauri Curtis, Vice President — Onboard Service at American Airlines. “Now customers can have complimentary on-demand access to movies, music and television all in one handheld media player in our First Class and Business Class cabins.”

Tell us, why exactly do we want to borrow your huge iPod? We can’t wait for the new slogan, “American Airlines, rich people can borrow our huge generic iPod.” —MEGHANN MARCO

American Airlines Expands Video and Audio Options for Premium Passengers on Transcontinental Flights; Entertainment Media Player Test to be Conducted on MD80s
[PR Newswire]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Youngman says:

    This is dumb. AA, how about making the flying experience better for all your customers, instead of providing something that first class customers do not need or want?

  2. TPIRman says:

    Rather than a huge generic iPod knockoff, that looks like an Archos 704 — i.e., a huge branded iPod knockoff. It’s actually a pretty sweet piece of kit that I may longingly admire from seat 99F, prior to passing out from the bathroom fumes wafting across the aisle.

  3. Pelagius says:

    I guess I’m failing to see how this is different from the ‘media devices’ imbedded in the seat-backs of every up-to-date carrier in the world. I just flew economy on Air France and had my choice of about 10 movies, several music channels, video games, TV shows, etc. etc.

  4. rugger_can says:

    kick me if Im wrong but is the point in bringing your own media player to play the media that you want. Would initial drawing factor not be deminished ever so slightly by the fact that this device may not be able to satisfy that need fully there by facilitating the need to bring your own damn media player on board. Considering that people who have the scratch to be flying up there most likely own their own, is this not a bit of a waste of money for the airline that could better be used to… I don’t know, perhaps train and staff better employee’s or provide better conditions for the other passengers?

    Also complimentary seems to indicated that this service is rendered at no additional cost. Can you say lame?

  5. scoobydoo says:

    That thing isn’t weird, it’s the Archos 704. I’ve got one for when I travel, so I hope AA doesn’t mistake it for one of theirs like they used to do when I wore my Bose headphones :D

  6. gilman says:


    American 767’s (especially the ones that fly out of the Chicago hub to Europe) are ancient planes that haven’t been updated since roughly the pre-cambrian era. They still have the big old CRT’s hanging from the ceiling even up front.

    The first class and business class experience is significantly crappier than in other airlines and even from other AA planes like their newer 777s.

    Instead of actually upgrading their planes, this is their half-ass solution to improving their service.

  7. scoobydoo says:

    Oh,and the reason for these things is because AA is too cheap/poor/stupid to update their IFE systems like other airlines have done.

    With upcoming airlines like Virgin ready to offer full interactive video systems and games in each seat, the mainstream airlines have to do something. They don’t have the cash to install a decent video on demand setup, so they buy a couple of $700 video players instead, in the hope that they look cool and they don’t lose too many customers to better airlines.

  8. mattloaf1 says:

    I can’t imagine WHY all the legacy carriers are going bankrupt.

  9. droppedD says:

    dear universe:

    just because it can play mp3s doesn’t make it an “ipod knockoff.” There were mp3 players before the ipod, and video players before the ipod video.

    example: A Katana might be legitimately called a Razr knockoff, but calling a Blackberry Pearl a Razr knockoff makes no sense at all.

    If it tries to ape the ipod’s form factor/controls/interface, like let’s say the Zen Vision M, then it’s an ipod knockoff. If the only thing it has in common with the ipod is that it can play media, like the Zen Vision W, then it’s not a knockoff, just a different competing portable media player. So stop calling every single gadget that plays mp3s an “ipod knockoff.” Makes you sound like an Apple fanboy.

  10. RokMartian says:

    Calling that an iPod wannabe is a gross mis-justice. The screen is twice as big as the ipod and does have wifi capabilities. These are really nice machines and you can do a lot more with these than they are being made out to be here. They are capable of streaming video/music and internet access. Can an iPod do that?

    Archos came out with their media player before Apple did, so it is hardly a knockoff.

    As for the practicality, to me, it sounds like a cheaper alternative than trying to create your own proprietary system.

  11. gilman says:


    Amen. Wasn’t if this is an iPod knockoff then the iPod is a Creative Nomad or HanGo ( knockoff

  12. matdevdug says:

    The only problem with the whole thing is that AA is a horrible airline. I have flown with them three times and every single time something awful has happened in terms of customer service or baggage. This is the airline that booked me for a connecting flight once with 2 minutes to catch it across the airport, not that it mattered because my plane left late anyway. I don’t care if they throw Ipods and candy at me as I walk in the plane for first-class. I just want them to take off on time, land on time and get my luggage there. They can keep all this crap.

  13. tcabeen says:

    Seriously. Rip on AA. Ok. I get it.

    But wth with ripping on Archos? I have one. I love it. It has a REMOVABLE BATTERY. I’ve owned it longer than either any of my 3 iPods actually worked.

    Viva Archos.

  14. quantum-shaman says:

    Hey AA, invest in customer service by NOT LOSING MY LUGGAGE COMING AND GOING on every friggin’ flight! And get that dead body out of the bathroom immediately.

  15. Buran says:

    @Youngman: Exactly.

    Yet more proof AA doesn’t really care about most of its customers. Yet another reason I will continue to boycott them and tell everyone I know to boycott them too. They are pathological liars, invaders of privacy, and don’t care about you on top of all that.

  16. rugger_can says:


    You know before you crap all over Ben, make note the the picture provided is from a PR companies website. AA has not released information about which model it will be using nor is this pic (presented here and on the aformentioned pr site) on their website regarding said upgrades.

  17. scoobydoo says:

    @rugger_can: The picture provided is from the official press release issued by AA themselves. It mentions a 7″ PMP with touchscreen (the Archos is the ONLY one with these specs), plus it SHOWS an Archos 704 with an AA branded main page which is the same as the normal 704 main page, AND it shows the 704 with “property of American Airlines”. Pretty slim chance that AA purchased a 704, had their name put on it, made a new theme and put the photo on their website if they didn’t plan to use it.

    Press release is here:

  18. tracyjordanvsodb says:

    While it may not be the most populist warm and fuzzy tactic treating first class customers “better” than other customers makes sense. They do after all have a higher profit margin.

  19. Seacub says:

    Alaska Air has these on their non-stop Seattle to Orlando. It gets the job done. I noticed that parents used their iPods and rented these devices for their kids. There was a screaming kid a few rows up, I nearly paid the $20 to get one for the kid so we could all have 5 hours of peace. *sigh*

  20. rugger_can says:


    And thus you win this round!

    Sorry I had ABP running at high and it blocked out those links for some reason. My fault.

    Clearly I art the loser.

  21. Buran says:

    @rugger_can: Buh? I was poking fun at AA, not the story poster.

  22. mrmcd says:

    I just flew Virgin, and the system in every coach seat had about 25 movies on demand, about 40 CDs available, TV shows on demand, news stories, and a bunch of video games (although the games kinda sucked). Oh, and it had a bigger screen too.

    Somehow I’m not impressed by this. Also, an Archos costs about 1/10th of a First Class seat.

  23. tigerjade says:

    So, along with paying a heck of a lot more for a seat, you get to listen to a crappy pre-programmed selection of music that probably came straight from the hold music at the bank? Sign me up!

  24. diggtatorship says:

    Is it also worth pointing out that this Archos ‘iPod knockoff’ is also sold by Dish Network as the “Pocket Dish” or something along those lines.

    Archos seems to being picking up its fair share of big contracts lately. Good for them.

  25. spinner says:

    Yeah, Archos media players. Huge. Generic.

    100% more media-friendly and media-centric than an iPod.

    Expected more from consumerist – you don’t just assume it’s ace ’cause it’s the most popular, do you? For shame!

  26. computerjoe says:

    I saw something like this as an alternative to in-flight entertainment on Jet2, a British low cost airline, which costed any passenger GB£5.