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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   3 min read

Airlines have come a long way, to say the least, in terms of in-flight entertainment. Window seats have lost their shine and it’s not longer good enough to have a bird’s eye view, passengers want more. Today you can not only watch new release films but surf the web, send emails, play Nintendo, shop for gifts and souvenirs, enjoy a nice glass of wine and even lounge. Here’s who offers what when it comes to sky-high entertainment.

Good entertainment can sometimes mean the difference between an all together tedious flight and an enjoyable one. Some travellers may look forward to passing out and dozing their trans-continental or oceanic flight away. Others however need something to stay occupied and entertained during their trip and that’s where IFE, or in-flight entertainment comes in. When it comes to amenities on board your aircraft, you might be surprised how much airline companies can differ.

Top 5 airlines for in-flight entertainment:

  • Emirates – Last month Emirates picked up the best in-flight entertainment award at the Skytrax World Airline Awards, and for good reason. The airlines IFE is named ice, and offers passengers 1200 channels on demand which included around 230 different films from around the world, not just blockbusters, that are available in 20 languages. TV, radio, dozens of video games, news, sports… is there anything more to want? How about a wide-screen display.
Jetstar's iPad
Jetstar launches the in-flight iPad (img: flickr cc)
  • Jetstar – One of Australia’s low cost airlines is stepping up this month by offering passengers the chance to rent an iPad for the duration of their flight. It is available on all flights 90 minutes in length or longer for the cost of A$10 (£5.80). Rumours say that if this first campaign is successful, Jetstar will offer it on all their flights, both domestic and international.
  • Virgin America – When it comes to IFE on domestic flights in the USA, Virgin America is king. Aside from the mood lighting and the individual plugs for recharging lap tops, their touch-screen system is more than just a little nifty. You can order food right from your seat, listen to 3000 mp3s, chat with other members on the flight in a cabin chat room, PM another passenger (this is handy if a celeb happens to be flying) and 25 films on demand.
  • Singapore Airlines – Let’s start with 80 on-demand films (international), 12 TV channels and almost 100 video games. Plug in your iPod or iPhone and watch your own film or listen to your own music without wasting your battery. Charge your laptop or just sit back and use the IFE system provided, a luxurious 10.6″.
  • Qantas – On their new A380 aircraft passengers can use iQ, a system that provides over 100 films, 500 TV programs, 1000 music albums, 50 audio books and 80 video games. If you don’t know too much about your destination, look it up using their interactive Lonely Planet guide books or take a language tutorial (just don’t pronounce too loudly, you’ll disturb the other passengers).

What about low cost airlines?

In Europe, Thomas Cook Airlines is joining the hand-held IFE bandwagon and is introducing Playstation 2 units to some of their flights with plans to completely switch over by removing their current entertainment systems. Passengers can rent one for £7.50, similar to easyJet and Frontier Airlines in the USA.

What do you look for in in-flight entertainment? How do you pass time on your flight: with a book, watching films, sleeping, daydreaming, working? Do you agree with our list or are there any we should add? Leave us a comment!

Img: Binder.donedat / flickr cc

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