Are USAirways In-Flight Movies Worth $10 Million?

According to what I’ve read, the reports are saying that domestic flights from USAirways are undergoing a bit of a makeover – they are having hardware removed so that they will no longer be able to show in-flight movies.

This makeover will allegedly save $10 million per year in fuel and “other costs”. Now I get that there is a certain amount of money to be saved by taking out the box that plays the movie. But $10 million is a lot. Plus, don’t they need it to play the safety film on the flight?

Or are we talking about all of the equipment being removed, the player and all the screens? That would mean that we’re going back to the days of the flight attendants giving the pre-flight show (which no one watches anyway, so does it really matter if you have your own screen to watch it?).

Of course, in order to make such a large makeover as this, it would require either taking out the screens and refitting them with new plastic pieces, which would save weight – but cost money. Or not removing them, and you wouldn’t really save any weight, but perhaps you would save a tiny bit of electricity. But you would have to spend a bit on retraining since the flight attendants now have to learn (re-learn, perhaps) their spiel.

Otherwise, I’m thinking that the $10 million probably comes from movie rights and the like. Because there is very little chance that they are going to save much of anything on the hardware. And while I totally get that you don’t need the movies on a 30- or 60-minute flight (which are most of USAirways’ flights), what about those that go across the country? A 4- or 5- hour flight could really use some entertainment. Maybe they’ll do some live shows.