When traveling by air, there are lots of things that can contribute to a great travel experience. One of those things is inflight entertainment, since it’s otherwise easy to get bored when flying. In this post I thought it would be fun to take a look at the airlines that offer the best inflight entertainment.
In this post:
What makes for good inflight entertainment
Airlines have come a long way on the inflight entertainment and connectivity front. So when it comes to good inflight entertainment, I’d like to think that it’s important to consider seat back and streaming entertainment, as well as inflight Wi-Fi connectivity.
What makes good for seat back or streaming entertainment?
- There’s the general availability of seat back entertainment; on what percentage of the fleet does the airline offer seat back entertainment?
- What’s the quality of entertainment like? How many movies and shows are there, how easy is the system to use, are the monitors high definition, and are there any other cool features?
- Is there streaming entertainment? I tend to think this is less important if you have seat back entertainment, and that it’s more important if an airline lacks that
What makes for good inflight Wi-Fi?
- Obviously it’s nice to have high speed Wi-Fi that’s actually usable for things like surfing the web and streaming
- However, there’s also something to be said for an airline offering free Wi-Fi and/or messaging; after all, that’s going to have the widest appeal, so it’s not just for those who are looking to work
The airlines with the best inflight entertainment
With the above out of the way, I figured I’d share what I consider to be the world’s five best airlines for inflight entertainment. Essentially when you factor in both seat back entertainment and Wi-Fi, which airlines have the overall best offerings?
I’m not going to rank these airlines, because I think which is best depends on what you value most. Instead I’ll share why I consider each of these airlines to be among the best for inflight connectivity.
With that out of the way, here are my top five picks, in no particular order…
Emirates has seat back entertainment on every single plane in its fleet, featuring the ICE inflight entertainment system (which stands for Information, Communication, Entertainment). In my opinion, ICE is hands down the best inflight entertainment system in the sky, in terms of ease of use, quality of programming, and variety.
Emirates offers 6,500 different programs, with everything from the latest movies, to complete seasons of TV shows, to live TV, to podcasts, to a tail camera (on its A380s). I’ve never been bored on an Emirates flight.
While Emirates does an amazing job with seat back entertainment, Emirates’ Wi-Fi is less impressive. The airline uses OnAir, which has low speeds. On the plus side, it’s at least reasonably priced, and many passengers even receive free Wi-Fi. On top of that, all Skywards members receive free inflight messaging.
Singapore Airlines is probably the most well-rounded global airline when it comes to inflight entertainment, based on the current state of its fleet.
When it comes to seat back entertainment, the airline offers seat back televisions throughout its fleet, with the exception of a small number of 737-800s inherited from SilkAir. Singapore Airlines has the KrisWorld entertainment system, which offers nearly 2,000 on-demand movies and TV shows, as well as live TV. I love how Singapore Airlines also has complete seasons of dozens of TV shows, which makes it easy to binge watch.
I’d say this is the second best inflight entertainment, only slightly behind Emirates’ ICE system. The area where Singapore Airlines really excels, though, is with its inflight Wi-Fi. The airline offers unlimited free Wi-Fi to all passengers who are KrisFlyer members, and to first and business class passengers even if they’re not part of the loyalty program.
Singapore Airlines is the only major global airline to offer free Wi-Fi to all passengers without any major limitations.
JetBlue is the OG when it comes to inflight entertainment, plain and simple. For one, the airline has seat back entertainment on every aircraft in its fleet. This entertainment system has a selection of movies, plus DIRECTV, SiriusXM, Peacock programming, and more.
Frankly the screens on many JetBlue aircraft are a bit low quality at this point, and I don’t find the system as such to be cutting edge. But still, you can’t beat such consistency.
The area where JetBlue really shines, though, is in offering high-speed, no strings attached, free Wi-Fi. The airline partners with Viasat, and offers free Wi-Fi on all aircraft. You can connect as many devices as you want, and you don’t even have to be a member of JetBlue’s loyalty program. What’s wild is that JetBlue has now been offering unlimited free Wi-Fi for over a decade, so the airline has been in a league of its own.
Delta Air Lines
Delta is by far the best of the “big three” US carriers when it comes to inflight entertainment. The airline offers seat back entertainment on most of its mainline fleet (with the exception of Boeing 717s), and that comes in the form of the Delta Studio system.
Delta Studio offers over 1,000 hours of inflight entertainment, with a library of movies and TV shows, as well as live TV, a map feature, and more.
Another area where Delta really excels is with inflight Wi-Fi, as the airline offers free Wi-Fi to all SkyMiles members on most mainline, narrow body aircraft. The catch is that as of now this isn’t available on select narrow body jets, as well as on all regional jets and wide body jets. By the end of 2024, it’s expected that free Wi-Fi will be expanded to most planes, which is an exciting development.
Air Canada doesn’t get much recognition for this, but I think the airline is highly underrated when it comes to its inflight entertainment. For one, the airline has seat back entertainment on an incredible number of jets — the airline even has seat back entertainment on many of its regional jets.
Air Canada also has a massive entertainment selection, with over 2,500 hours of entertainment, including everything from movies, to TV shows, to live TV. Heck, the airline is even retrofitting its narrow body jets with new entertainment systems that include tail cameras, which I love.
When it comes to inflight Wi-Fi, Air Canada doesn’t offer this for free, but at least it’s high-speed. The airline does offer free messaging on all flights to Aeroplan members, which is a nice feature, and a good way for most people to stay connected to loved one.
As technology continues to improve, many airlines are investing in inflight entertainment, but in different ways. Some airlines are investing in seat back entertainment, others are investing in streaming entertainment, others are investing in Wi-Fi, and some are investing in all of them.
Some airlines definitely stand out as being better than most, so the above are my top picks, as they’re all airlines on which I’m never bored.
What are your favorite airlines when it comes to inflight entertainment, and why?