Delta Becomes First US Airline To Offer All In-Flight Entertainment For Free

Filed Under: Delta

Personally I’m someone who values inflight wifi significantly more than inflight entertainment. I like to get work done and stay connected when I travel, and if I do want to be entertained, I’ll usually bring my preferred shows on an iPad.

However, I realize most people aren’t like me, and inflight entertainment remains an integral part of the onboard experience. Well, one US airline is taking their onboard entertainment to the next level, as Delta will be the first US airline to offer all in-flight entertainment for free as of July 1, 2016.


Per Delta’s press release:

Prepare to be entertained on Delta flights – free of charge. Delta Studio, the airline’s industry-leading suite of onboard entertainment, will be free for all customers on two-class aircraft by July 1. This includes nearly 90 percent of Delta’s fleet.

Customers on nearly all domestic and international flights will feel at home in the air with access to free entertainment through Delta Studio. Delta operates the world’s largest in-flight entertainment-equipped fleet, with more than 1,000 aircraft offering Delta Studio via streaming through laptops, mobile devices and tablets, in addition to nearly 400 aircraft equipped with seat-back entertainment systems.

Delta Studio offers up to 300 movies, 750 TV shows, 100 foreign film titles, 2,400 songs, 18 channels of live satellite TV on select aircraft and a selection of games on aircraft with seat-back entertainment systems.

Previously only a portion of the entertainment selection was free, while much of the premium content had to be purchased.

As much as I sometimes rag on Delta SkyMiles (though comparatively they’re getting better, in my opinion), there’s no denying what an impressive onboard product they have, especially in relation to their US peers. They’re the only US airline to offer on-demand entertainment at every seat on longhaul international flights, and they operate the world’s largest wifi equipped fleet.


Furthermore, Delta proactively made this change. This wasn’t a result of competitors doing the same, but rather they’re trying to offer a great onboard product. Kudos to Delta for that. Like I said, as much as I sometimes rag on SkyMiles, the airline as such consistently impresses me.

Well done, Delta!

  1. Although well behind other airlines, it does seem that the race to the bottom has stopped for US carriers between refurbished planes, snacks, and now this. I guess they realize that if they refuse to lower prices despite the lower cost of oil and charge for seat selection and extra legroom, might as well improve the soft product.

  2. I applaud any changes that are pro-passenger though I’m always skeptical about technology changes. With a variety of aircraft types, including the no frills regional carriers, it’s hit or miss depending on aircraft type.

  3. @David @Geoff Then I guess not really all entertainment is free. Just the entertainment that Delta sells.

  4. I wonder how long it will take United to “innovate” by doing the same thing, followed by American…

  5. Isn’t this basically the same streaming service that UA already offers free on many (most?) of its aircraft?

  6. Personally, I care less if entertainment is free or not as I’m diamond and usually sit first or Eco Plus where these were free already.
    I would be much happier if they would change their boarding process. It is a madhouse during Delta boarding. Large or small plane, The Larger, Stronger and Pushier wins. I’m the luckier one, I’m always in the first group, but just to get to the boarding line is a hassle. Stepping over people, falling over their luggages is crazy. Also, there is a confusion if the SkyPriority Lane or the Non-Priority lane is used. Both are open. From a distance, the boarding of a Delta flight looks like a huge group of people are trying to pack themselves into a massive huddle… Calling “handicapped” or “People with young children” first, who are usually behind the huddle.. now we all waiting for them to get through… by the time they get to the agent taking the passes, they are calling First class/Diamond. …. sorry, I didn’t want to hijack the discussion…..
    How come Southwest figured it out how to board in an orderly and calm way. I know, they have no free entertainment .

  7. I continue to be amazed that there are people for whom WiFi and “productivity” are positively associated. I mean, it makes sense for Ben, obviously, but for me– and I’d imagine for like 95% of working people– there is no single greater obstacle to being productive than an internet connection. I have never connected to WiFi on an airplane, and I hope I never will.

  8. Can I trade the ‘free’ entertainment for four (4) more inches of legroom in economy coach? I don’t need to be entertained. I need a comfortable seat.

  9. @TravelinWilly
    United is already doing this for streaming entertainment or AVOD on seatback screens. The only reason Delta can make this claim is that UA has the legacy CO planes equipped with DirecTV in-flight entertainment, which is only free for first class. And, to be fair to DL, they are ahead of UA in terms of equipping more of their planes with IFE.

  10. Air Canada has had completely free entertainment for years, ever since their old 767’s with overhead screens were refurbished. The entertainment is available on all planes all the way down too the CRJ-700. I guess us Canucks are a few steps ahead of the game!

  11. They need to offer this for free because it’s too much of a hassle to fix the consoles for each pax that is complaining. These touch screens are not proving to be long lasting. Plus with the amazing seat pitch, the screen is one inch from your face when the seat in front of you is reclined.

  12. Southwest has offered free TV for years. Not as extensive as the DL offering, but easy enough with your tablet or laptop.

    As to the question about free wifi – Huh? Of course this is not about free wifi.

  13. Yay? That brings my cost to fly lax to Cvg down to like $795 a ticket in coach? What a Value?

  14. Pay for IFE? I don’t get it. Which longhaul airline doesn’t have free IFE? It’s been free forever in Asia.
    Maybe you’re talking about the short 2-4hour flights on the single aisle aircraft where there has traditionally been no IFE at all and now they’re offering it via wifi BYOD.

    Would I choose Delta over other airlines because of this? Doubtful. I think humanity can survive a few hours without a tv screen in their faces.

  15. This just shows how backwards us airlines are. Yet you still rave about us airlines like they’re actually good?!?!?

  16. Don’t need nor care about ife. All I need is a good magazine/book to pass the time. Don’t need to be connected 24/7.imho

  17. Actually it is a brilliant move on DL part. Seat back system technology is rapidly changing and by the time DL refurbishes entire fleet, it is obsolete. Also if seat back IFE has issues DL cabin crew has to fix it.

    By streaming free content through local WiFi (not internet) DL eliminated the need to have seat back IFE in economy. Generally pax won’t complain much about issues and know how to fix their own devices.

    This reduces the complexity of seats, just give power and tablet holder, passengers are happy.

    The money saved on seat back IFE hardware, DL can pickup the tab of content usage to movie studio.

    If DL want to make more money, rent out tablets.

  18. PSA: To watch the free IFE, you need to download the GogoEntertainment app to your device prior to flight as it’s basically impossible to do so once in the air as the Gogo wifi isn’t fast enough to download an app. Learned that one the hard way.

  19. Just my daughter’s luck when she flew Delta from MSP to NRT and they had an aircraft swap. Well, the aircraft that they flew on did not have IFE…which for a 16 year old is pretty much unacceptable. I like network connectivity but considering that most of my connectivity is through a secure VPN, in-flight wifi is still too damn slow. My preference is for a power port at all seats above all electronic amenities.

  20. I flew Delta 757-200, A320 and a MD88 yesterday. I could not keep VPN connection for more than a minute on any of these planes.
    “Reconnecting”….. “Connected”… “Reconnecting” … “Connected”… “Reconnecting” … “Connected”… it was useless.. paid $16 for the day, I could not accomplish anything for the day.

  21. I value IFE – I have come to love The Delta approach to it as even in coach dating back to 2009, some content in coach has been free. I get frustrated when streaming technology doesn’t work & that seems to be consistent at United who seems to bet the farm on streaming instead of screens. Most people value AVOD and its delivered on new domestic aircraft on AA and DL. UA tells me to do streaming, and I will avoid until they start installing screens on domestic planes.

    Btw: screens aren’t going to be obsolete in the near future. Not sure where this ideology comes from

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