CableTV.com has ranked the entertainment value of the top 10 US carriers based on their selection of movies and TV shows, accessibility, pricing, and personal device access. The survey considered both seatback entertainment as well as streaming options.
We can share results for the #1-3 ranked airlines below, but you’ll need to check out the rest of the list here.
1. Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines’ Alaska Beyond Entertainment (free to first-class flyers and MVP Gold members; $10 per flight for everyone else) features a stored cache of over 200 movies and TV shows that can be watched on seat-back consoles, in addition to games and music.
Overall, Alaska offers a little more of everything in its on-board entertainment package. If you’re on an aircraft with Wi-Fi, you can access more titles through the Gogo Entertainment app on your personal device or a rental tablet from Alaska Airlines.
A note about Wi-Fi: as of December 2018, only a small number of Alaska Airlines’ 241 planes are equipped with satellite Wi-Fi. The rest are expected to have full internet access by 2020.
As you’ll find throughout this article, we believe charging extra for Wi-Fi is a sin right up there with, well, charging extra for anything while you’re trapped in a flying metal tube.
That said, using satellite internet on Southwest will cost you $8 a flight—not cool.
Should you decide to opt out of paying for Wi-Fi—we get it—Southwest also makes its movie and TV options available through in-cabin streaming for free.
Southwest’s wide array of newer movies and live TV programming can also be viewed on your own devices via the airline’s app. To be honest, we’d recommend downloading the app of any airline you’re flying with. It makes your flight life easier.
Besides a USB-charging outlet, headphone jack, and the oddly hypnotic Flight Tracker that displays a cartoon depiction of your plane flying across the states, Delta Studio’s seat-back entertainment console is loaded for a long flight.
There are around 300 movies to choose from, including new releases and older favorites (don’t worry, Frozen is there for the kiddies), as well as TV content from HBO®, SHOWTIME®, and non-premium networks.
Select flights also have access to a dozen live satellite TV channels, in case you don’t want to miss the big game or Rachel Maddow’s latest rant.
If you’d prefer to experience any of this on your personal device rather than the seat-back screen, you can download the Gogo Entertainment app for Android or IOS and stream via the Delta Wi-Fi Portal.
Both are free, but be warned: the satellite Wi-Fi, as with all airlines, is about as fast as old-school dial-up. You may want to take care of any heavy downloading before boarding.
Keep reading and see airlines ranked 4-10 here.