After years of watching airlines pile on new fees for every imaginable service and amenity, it’s a little jarring to hear that they plan to start offering something for free. But that’s what’s happening with in-flight entertainment at Delta and United.
Delta said that by July 1, its Delta Studio selection of in-flight entertainment programming will be offered at no charge for all customers on its two-class aircraft, which includes 90 percent of its fleet.
The carrier said the Delta Studio selections – which provide up to 300 films, 750 TV shows, 100 foreign films, 2,400 music tracks, and live satellite TV on some planes – will be available via streaming to personal electronic devices on 1,000 aircraft, and through seat-back entertainment systems on 400 planes that have them. “Entertainment options will vary by aircraft type and route,” Delta said, with more details available at www.delta.com./studio.
Meanwhile, United is expanding free streaming entertainment to its newer 737s, a project that should be finished by the end of June. The service is already available on United’s A319s and A320s, and on many international aircraft.
United is moving away from seatback screen-based entertainment, although that will continue to be offered on older 737s, which also offer paid live DirecTV. United only offers free entertainment to those who have downloaded its app and watch on their own device. And in most cases, its aircraft do not offer in-seat power — and streaming drains batteries fast. This makes Delta’s free offering of seatback screens much better for everyone, especially those who don’t travel with appropriate devices…or extra batteries!
No word from American yet about similar moves toward free entertainment, although its new deals with competing Wi-Fi providers Gogo and ViaSat this month for satellite-based transmissions will bring high-speed streaming capabilities to its single-aisle domestic fleet in the years ahead.
And now we have learned that Gogo and Aeromexico have teamed up for a pilot program allowing free Netflix streaming onboard.
What do you think about free inflight entertainment? Do you prefer seatback or BYO screens? Please leave your comments below.
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