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Flying in economy could come with huge, 21-inch screens in the future

The only thing worse than flying in economy is the small low-res TVs that are built into the back of the seats. Bluntly speaking: They're terrible.

The French company Thales wants to reinvent the low-cost flying experience by replacing the small (about 7 inches) entertainment screens with huge 21.3-inch HD touchscreens, according to The Points Guy.

Zach Honig, editor-in-chief of The Points Guy, took a look at a working prototype of the "Digital Sky" experience at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany.

Though the screen is positioned in portrait mode, movies and videos will play in landscape with letterboxing (there are black bars on the top and bottom). Honig says the viewing angles are decent (most in-flight screens have horrible viewing angles).

I imagine experiencing the large touchscreen on a flight is like going from a small in-car dash infotainment system to the Tesla Model S's gigantic touchscreen.

Additionally, users can read the in-flight magazine and other magazines on the screen, as well as play games and bring up flight information.

The big screens don't take up more space, either. Honig says there's still enough legroom and space for a tray table (albeit a small one).

The Points Guy notes that Thales already provides existing (small) in-flight entertainment systems for some airlines, like United and Qatar. No airlines have signed up to include the next-generation entertainment screens yet.

As much as we'd love for airlines to adopt these displays, it's far more likely airlines will drop in-flight screens in favor of passengers using their own mobile devices.

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