Monday, May 27, 2024

The 5 Best Airlines for Inflight Entertainment in 2024 – Business Traveler USA

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Planning your next long-haul flight can be overwhelming, especially when looking for the best seats, the most perks, inflight connectivity, and onboard entertainment.

This year, most long-haul operators flying to the U.S. have aircraft equipped with inflight entertainment (IFE) systems. However, not all have updated, next-generation systems that allow passengers to enjoy thousands of hours of movies, TV shows, music, and documentaries. Inflight Wi-Fi is also becoming increasingly important, which is why not all airlines are considered top IFE providers.

Photo: Panasonic Astrova IFE. Courtesy of Panasonic

According to AirlineRatings, Emirates has been crowned the world’s best airline for IFE on its Airline Excellence Awards 2024. 

Emirates offers non-stop flights to 12 major cities across the U.S. from its hub in Dubai. The flights are operated using the airline’s advanced and comfortable Boeing 777s and Airbus A380s, providing passengers with an exceptional travel experience.

With a plethora of entertainment options, including the latest movies, TV shows, music, and games, along with comfortable seating and exceptional customer service, Emirates truly offers an unmatched inflight experience. 

Emirates has led the way in IFE for over three decades, being one of the first carriers to offer seat-back entertainment screens for economy class passengers. Their Information, Communication, Entertainment (ICE) system is now recognized as one of the best in the world, providing many options to keep passengers entertained during their flight.

While most airlines now offer IFE on long-haul flights, the quality and connectivity can vary greatly. Here’s a list of the top five best airlines for IFE in 2024. 

1: Emirates

Emirates’ award-winning library includes over 1,500 movies and 1,500 hours of TV, including more than 45 Academy Award-winning films. It offers around 6,500 channels of on-demand entertainment, music, games, podcasts, and audiobooks in 40 languages. It also provides a wide range of live entertainment, including live news from the BBC, CNN, Sky News Arabia, and sports from Sport 24 and Sport 24 Extra.

Photo: Courtesy of Emirates

The Gulf carrier also continuously refreshes its inflight library, ensuring its content is up-to-date and current, featuring many of the latest blockbusters and popular TV shows. And, like all the best airlines, Emirates has installed Wi-Fi connectivity capabilities across its entire fleet, with complementary access offered to Emirates Skywards members.

One of the features that sets Emirates’ IFE apart from the competition is the ability for passengers to create their own ‘ice’ playlist. All passengers can do so by downloading the Emirates mobile app, selecting what they want to watch or listen to, and then syncing it to their back-seat screen as soon as they step onboard.

2: Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways is another renowned Gulf carrier for its IFE system. Like Emirates, the Doha-based airline allows passengers to create personalized playlists before boarding to get stuck in their favorite TV shows or movies without scrolling through its extensive library after take-off.

Oryx One offers all passengers up to 7,500 entertainment options, from new Hollywood releases and classic movies from every corner of the globe to eye-opening documentaries and thought-provoking podcasts. 

Photo: Oryx One. Courtesy of Qatar Airways

Passengers can also sync the IFE system with their devices by scanning a QR code, allowing them to scroll and watch Oryx One content on their phone, tablet, or laptop.

Qatar Airways has also invested in high-speed connectivity, and passengers can pre-purchase an internet plan when checking in for their flight online, while Privilege Club members can get an hour of high-speed Wi-Fi for free. 

The Gulf carrier has also partnered with Starlink to enhance its inflight connectivity, so expect speeds to get even better shortly.

3: Cathay Pacific

Winner of the 2023 Skytrax World’s Best Inflight Entertainment, Cathay Pacific offers its long-haul passengers a rich array of movies, TV shows, documentaries, music, podcasts, games, and live content. 

The Hong Kong flag carrier offers over 3,000 hours of content and claims to have the largest entertainment library in the Asia Pacific.

Photo: Courtesy of Cathay Pacific / YouTube

Cathay refreshes its library monthly to keep its content relevant and up-to-date, including the latest Hollywood blockbusters and award-winning TV series. It has also recently added select Disney+ content, including the best Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars titles.

Passengers can also watch live sports through Sport 24, which includes live NBA, Premier League games, Formula 1, and the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympic Games. 

The airline recently provided a preview of its brand-new Aria Suite Business Class seat, which will revolutionize the interior of its Boeing 777s, and offer passengers a luxurious travel experience with top-of-the-line IFE.

The airline boasts that its IFE system provides 4K resolution on certain planes, and Bluetooth connectivity allows passengers to enjoy content with their high-quality headphones.

4: JetBlue

When it comes to U.S. airlines, JetBlue has long held claim to having the country’s best IFE.

The New York-based airline has prided itself on offering market-leading entertainment since its inception in the late 90s, and it is one of the few airlines to have installed seat-back screens across its entire fleet, which means passengers flying short-haul can also enjoy its content.

Photo: Courtesy of JetBlue Airways

JetBlue offers dozens of live TV channels via DirecTV and a decent selection of the latest films, offering something for everyone—from sports on ESPN, current affairs on CNN, entertainment on Comedy Central, documentaries on the National Geographic Channel, and kids’ favorites on Cartoon Network.

Another thing that sets JetBlue’s inflight experience apart is its Wi-Fi connectivity, which is available free of charge to all passengers. 

To connect, passengers can select the Fly-Fi Wi-Fi network on their device, fill out a quick form, and watch a short advertisement to get started.

5: Air Canada

Air Canada has significantly improved its IFE system in recent months, adding the likes of Disney+, Apple TV+, Paramount+, and audible content to its already extensive library of movies, TV shows, and podcasts.

Passengers can also stay up-to-date with a selection of live news and sports channels available in English and French. 

Photo: Courtesy of Air Canada

Meanwhile, Air Canada’s partnership with Apple Fitness+ allows passengers to meditate mid-flight, which can be especially helpful for nervous flyers.

The airline has installed seat-back screens across its entire long-haul fleet and select regional aircraft, while it also offers high-speed Wi-Fi on all flights. 

However, this high-speed connectivity does come at a cost to most passengers, although Premium Rouge passengers can get it for free, and Aeroplan members can get free messaging.

Other Top-Rated IFEs

It’s worth noting that while the list of airlines with great IFE is extensive, international airlines are continuously improving and updating their IFE systems to keep their passengers entertained on long-haul flights. 

Virgin Atlantic is a notable mention for its extensive entertainment options, which include a wide selection of movies, TV shows, music, and games. 

Photo: Upper Class seat, Airbus A330neo. Courtesy of Virgin Atlantic

The airline also has a unique feature called “seat chat,” which allows passengers to communicate with other travelers on the same flight.

Delta Air Lines is another excellent option, providing IFE on short and long-haul flights similar to JetBlue. The airline’s IFE system boasts a vast library of movies, TV shows, music, and podcasts, and passengers can also stream content directly to their devices.

Photo: First Class, Airbus A321neo. Courtesy of Delta

Singapore Airlines is also worth mentioning for its excellent IFE system, which includes a vast array of entertainment options such as movies, TV shows, and games. Additionally, the airline provides complimentary Wi-Fi to all passengers, allowing them to stay connected with friends, family, and colleagues in the air. 

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