I am a frequent business traveler and couple of years ago I began to notice how more airlines were ditching seat-back entertainment systems. Due to the popularity of smartphones and tablets, they now offer streaming movies, t.v. programming, music and games. Obviously this saves the airlines money, and you would think it'd be more convenient for the traveler. The reality isn't great for the latter. In a recent article published on Jezebel, by Emily Alford, she explains "...airlines have decided that passengers should probably no longer have TV." But she goes on to explain about the increasing inconvenience of the new "normal" travel experience. Tighter seating accommodations, expensive wifi, charges for movies you didn't want to see when they were in the theater, and of course the multiple reheated, and now dry and overcooked, low quality meals.
It isn't just the airlines, but trains and charter busses too. Outside of my "coach class" accommodations, I will give them a break and say that the entire travel entertainment system is just laborious to maintain, with constant reboots, freezes and "I'm sorry's". After all, the system is electronic and has to take the preverbal back seat to.. you know... flying, providing stable cabin pressure and recycled oxygen.
Without a provided in-flight entertainment system, you could just whip out your laptop; oh yeah, no room for that in those tiny 2 foot square seating accommodations, not the mention knocking elbows with your neighbor. You could just pull out your phone and hunch over watching while you drop your tray and eat with one hand... Hey, its only a 4 hour flight, you've got this!
Anymore, I prefer a plane without an entertainment system. With a little planning ahead, I just download some programs from services like Netflix, AppleTV, etc. Pop my phone in the VuWing and slip it inside the headrest pocket, lock it up with a tray system, prop it up on the tray, or any other numerous ways to use it.
Read Alford's article here: "Airlines Discover a New Way to Make Flying Worse"