Commercial Airlines have been slowly inching toward integration of mobile device use on flights. By 2011, United Airlines had already begun trading heavy flight bags with iPad tablets for the company’s pilots. Once the Federal Aviation Administration approved passenger use of portable electronic devices, all bets were off. Today, United Airlines has announced a new in-flight entertainment program that will allow iPad and iPhone users to watch TV shows and movies on their own devices.
According to Patently Apple, United Airlines recently announced the rollout of a new personal device entertainment system that will be implemented on certain planes exclusively for owners of iPhone and iPad devices running iOS 7 or higher. At launch, travelers will be able to choose from more than 150 movies and 200 television shows to watch, free of charge.
“Most planes will be equipped with the new system very soon, and we’ll have it installed on most domestic aircraft by the end of 2014. We’ll begin on Airbus A319, Airbus A320, Boeing 747-400 and select 777-200 aircraft, followed by additional fleets. In the end, all United-operated flights will have some form of entertainment,” United Airlines said in a statement.
Passengers will first need to download the United Airlines app from the App Store on their iPad or iPhone. The app can be downloaded at any time during the flight without purchase of United Wi-Fi. Ensure that your device is fully charged before taking off. Once onboard, travelers will see the two types of media. The app is not needed for some portions of the entertainment service. They will be viewable through the United Portal on a device’s browser.
However, iOS device owners will have full access to media at any time.
What is not clear is whether users will have to purchase United Wi-Fi in order to actually stream the media. The app may be free to download, but it is likely that United Airlines will charge an hourly fee to watch movies and TV shows.
Still. Travelers used to have to pay for headphones if they wanted to watch the in-flight movie. At least you have a choice of what you get to watch now.