Frequent travelers everywhere agree: when it comes to flying, it’s crucial to be entertained. Because it can be extremely boring, and then some. Just think about it. Squealing kids furiously kicking your seat. That sleepy guy right next to you, drooling a few inches away from your shoulder while snoring like a warthog. Let’s face it, the book that you brought with you — and that you’ll definitely read this time — might not just be enough to evade yourself from all those annoying high-altitude little hassles. A good movie, some relaxing music or a thrilling video game can make all the difference when you are stuck on a plane for 10 hours, right? It’s always a good idea, then, to take these always-welcomed perks into due consideration while booking the lowest airfare for your trip.

Air carriers are pretty aware of this and have been competing for decades to gain the upper hand by investing tons of resources to widen their on-board entertainment. Although it might be tricky to determine which airline provides the best in-flight entertainment, we’ve compiled a selection of some of the best things you can do to keep yourself amused until you reach your destination. Just don’t forget to download your airline’s preferred app, since you might need it to enjoy all this exclusive content!

For Serious Binge-Watchers

To most, entertainment aboard means basically movies and TV shows, which is why almost every airline tries to provide a great multimedia journey with updated and appropriate content (nobody wants to watch Sully while flying at 35,000 feet high!). If you are one of those who can’t stop binge-watching the latest comedy show or obsessing over summer blockbusters, you should have no problem at all finding something for you regardless of your airline. Some of them, however, go the extra mile in order to provide a top-notch experience.

Qantas Airways, for example, announced in 2017 a deal that allows passengers free access to Netflix thanks to the hi-speed Wi-fi connection installed in some of its aircraft. Among its streaming services are also included the Australian cable provider Foxtel, the audio platform Spotify, and digital audiobook powerhouse Audible. Alaska Airlines  (which recently absorbed Virgin America) is another great option for movie buffs, with a selection of over 200 films — including recent releases — and TV shows available on its entertainment consoles.

For Family Guys

We get it. Flying with kids can be the most stressful thing ever, both for you and for the unlucky passengers surrounding your screaming offspring. Sometimes you just have to deal with it though, and your only choice is to do your best trying to calm him/her until the flight is over. Luckily, many airlines offer personalized services intended to soothe the little flyers with child-oriented TV shows, movies, and games. Proof of this is Southwest Airlines, which provides a free interactive portal that includes Cartoon Network among its broadcast options. Delta Airlines flights are also kid-friendly, offering an exclusive educational app, Speakaboos, for children aged 2-12 filled with interactive storytelling, sing-alongs, and TV shows that can be enjoyed even after the plane has landed!

For Music Lovers

If music defines you, it’s possible that you might be bummed with the regular selection offered by most carriers on their domestic and international flights. Oftentimes it seems that only a few genres are covered, and some of the albums are, let’s put it this way, pretty much unknown. In many instances, the issue is exactly the opposite: the only available tracks are the hits you constantly listen to on the radio. Need more variety? Then consider Turkish Airlines, which is probably one of the carriers with the biggest in-flight music selection: no less than 750,000 songs, from all-time icons like Blondie, Alice Cooper or The Beach Boys to up-and-coming artists and, of course, local Turkish rhythms.

The same can be said of Emirates, whose platform (ICE) contains thousands of audio channels where you can find any kind of playlists and artists from virtually any decade. It even has exclusive Guides to Classical Music, from Renaissance pieces to Modern Age concerts! No wonder that they won the World’s Best Inflight Entertainment Award for 14 years in a row (Qatar Airways finally beat them in 2019) at the Skytrax World Airline Awards.

You might also like: 7 Airlines with the Coolest First Class Experiences in the World

For Avid News Chasers

Etihad Airways is already famous among elite flyers thanks to its lavish suites and uber-luxurious appeal. Granted, the Arab carrier has become a synonym of glamour among those who can afford to soar the skies pampered with VIP treatment, and it might not be your first choice when trying to find the lowest airfare to reach your destination. Many of its amenities, however, are not exclusive to first-class. E-BOX Stream, the airline’s own entertainment system, not only features the usual suspects (movies, TV shows, music, and games) but also 7 live TV news channels for passengers to be up-to-date of what’s going on in the world, as well as many specialized magazines to read.

For Hardcore Gamers

If video games are your passion, you may have tried browsing the selection most airlines feature on their in-flight screens…only to be quickly disappointed with the generic array of Tetris clones and tourist-y trivia games that will not succeed in keeping you entertained for more than a few minutes. You want real, top-notch, electronic entertainment. Well, some carriers are listening. Singapore Airlines, for example, has been known to include a pretty cool selection of Nintendo classics such as Super Mario Bros Deluxe, Pokemon Silver & Gold, Mario Tennis, Kirby’s Pinball Land or Zelda: Oracle of Ages in its KrisWorld platform.

Have you had an amazing entertainment experience while flying? Feel free to share it in the comments section below!  

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About The Author

Content Writer

Born in Barcelona. Raised in Madrid. New Yorker at heart. When he is not geeking out at a comic book convention or binge-watching superhero shows, this bilingual journalist loves to discover secret venues and hidden places around the world to fill his insatiable wanderlust. He also digs into ghost-busting, Bigfoot-hunting, and UFO-sighting. The truth is out there.