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Interesting in-flight entertainment news: United is teaming up with Apple to allow passengers with iOS 7 devices – meaning the iPad, iPhone, iPod, or any laptop with a specific browser plug-in – to download/stream around 150 movies and 200 TV shows in-flight entirely for free. Passengers will be able to do this all via the United App starting April 1, 2014. 

Use an iPad app to watch your favorite shows on United flights starting April 1, 2014.
Use an iPad app to watch your favorite shows on United flights starting April 1, 2014.

United will start offering this service on the following aircraft: Airbus A319, A320, Boeing 747-400 and select 777-200 planes. However, they are looking to outfit the entire domestic fleet with the new system by the end of 2014. Here’s hoping.

The bad news? Looks like Android users are out of luck for now, though United is working on a system that will support those devices later this year.

The good news? At least for now, you won’t need to pay for inflight WiFi to use this service – as long as you have the app and/or supported plug-in you should be able to connect and stream for free. Eventually United plans to make the service available gate-to-gate, but for now it will only be offered in-flight.

To check if your flight will have the new system, you can check the amenities you’ll have onboard at or on the United app up to 48 hours in advance (though note that the amenities are subject to change up until the time of departure).

This is a good move on United’s part – especially considering the lack of in-flight entertainment options on many of their older domestic planes, and on my next United flight, I plan to take it out for a spin. Lufthansa has a similar option called BoardConnect, and Southwest launched free on-demand live TV via Dish Network earlier this year, so hopefully we’ll see a lot more airlines start to offer more free entertainment options as they adapt to accommodate travelers carrying their own tablets and other devices.

What do you think? Are you likely to use the new system or will you just bring along a good book?

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