United To Offer Free Movies, TV For Passengers Using Their Own Laptops, Apple Devices

It’s BYOD time on United Airlines flights soon: Any passenger with their own laptop or an Apple mobile device will be able to watch free inflight streaming TV and movies. Because in a Bring Your Own Device scenario, United doesn’t have to bother with those seatback or overhead screens.

The new project gets underway in April, reports the Chicago Tribune, when United will start outfitting its planes with video-streaming capabilities. The first rollout of the system will be limited to laptops, iPads and iPhones using a United app, with Android devices added later in the year.

“We have so many more customers who have mobile devices, and when they fly they’re looking for content to keep them entertained,” a United spokeswoman said. “Overall on our mainline fleet we plan to have Wi-Fi as well as an inflight entertainment option that offers our customers a form of choice…We are particularly looking at personal-device entertainment.”

Everything will be free — you won’t have to buy wireless Internet service that might not work — as it’ll be sponsored at first by United’s own MileagePlus Explorer credit card. So will it stay free forever? Probably not, because money.

“We can’t speak about what might happen in the future,” the spokeswoman said, regarding future possible charges for either the streaming or a requirement to buy Wi-Fi access.

We know what you’re wondering — will you be doomed to a pit of interminable Big Bang Theory episodes, or will this service actually offer something you want to watch? (Although if you like BBT, no judgment. I’m just sick of his t-shirts.)

Well, no: It actually sounds like there’s a lot to choose from, with more than 150 movies and about 200 TV shows, including full seasons of House of Cards, Downton Abbey and episodes of Friends. Movies on the roster already include all three Iron Man movies, The Social Network and Forrest Gump. So you can finally get what that bowl of cherries thing is about, if you’ve been abstaining.

As for when this thing gets off the ground (pun intended), United isn’t saying, exactly, only that some aircraft will be equipped with the service, as well as power outlets at seats to charge those devices, at some point in April. Otherwise, there’s no specific date set.

United Airlines to offer free TV, movies on Apple devices, laptops [Chicago Tribune]