United Airlines is making over 100 channels of live DIRECTV available free of charge from gate-gate, effective immediately.
211 Boeing 737s in the United fleet are equipped with seat-back live television, totaling more than 30,000 seats. All live channels of DIRECTV are now complimentary.
The move is part of a larger customer service push by United to make flights more bearable. With the combination of seatback TV on many flights and streaming audio and video plus Wi-Fi internet across the mainline fleet, United will certainly help passengers pass the time.
United’s Chief Customer Officer Toby Enqvist stated:
This year, we will be introducing a series of innovations and improvements designed to help build a great experience for all our customers. Offering free entertainment, whether it’s on seat back TV or on personal devices, is one example of how we are placing our customers at the heart of what we do and helping them to relax and enjoy their flights.
Corporate babble aside, my own observations are as follows:
- Passengers love in-flight-entertainment to pass the time
- Few passengers seemed willing to pay for DIRECTV
- Making DIRECTV free and keeping streaming movies/TV free will make passengers more tolerant of tighter seat pitch and more uncomfortable slimline seats
There is certainly ancillary revenue loss when United will not longer be able to collect $5-10 for each passenger wiling to pay for DIRECTV. But United is also likely saving money in that it won’t have to pay for movies on these seatback devices anymore (that’s just a guess).
This is certainly a customer-friendly move that will make many passengers happy.
How about you? Will free DIRECTV make you more loyal to United?