United Now Offers Free Live TV On Its 737 Fleet

a large white airplane parked on a tarmac

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United Airlines has just announced that, effective immediately, over 100 channels of live TV are now free to view on over 200 of its Boeing 737 aircraft.

Per the United Airlines announcement:

Just in time for the Big Game, United Airlines today announced that effective immediately more than 100 channels of live television will now be free on 211 Boeing 737 United aircraft equipped with seat back TV, making viewing easy gate-to-gate. In addition to offering free live DIRECTV at more than 30,000 seats, United customers also have access to hundreds of movies and TV shows available on personal devices through the airline’s collection on the United app – offering customers thousands of hours of programming in total.

The free-to-view live TV onboard 211 of United’s Boeing 737 aircraft is provided by DIRECTV and, according to the chief product officer of AT&T Business (owner of DIRECTV) flyers will be able to watch “their favorite primetime show or their favorite sports team” onboard.

a group of logos on a white background

United is currently in the process of expanding its entertainment options on aircraft where DIRECTV was previously the only choice – now passengers can use their personal devices (or a seat-back screen if one is provided) to access a library of 280+ movies and TV shows to keep them entertained on their flight.

The Competition

American Airlines announced that it was rolling out live TV on its narrow-body fleet back in September last year and in now offers it on over 400 aircraft. However, based on the announcement, the airline is using Dish Network to provide its live feed and is only offering 12 channels as opposed to United’s 100+.

Delta offers seat back screen on a sizeable number of its domestic aircraft (full list here) and its “Delta Studio” product is home to 18 Live TV channels provided by Dish…but it can be a bit of a lottery when it comes to which aircraft offers live TV and which don’t.

Bottom Line

While its great to see passengers having access to more entertainment onboard any excitement needs to be tempered by a little reality – live TV is great in principle but, based on reports on Flyertalk, it can be very hit-and-miss.

It’s always worth remembering that you should never rely on an airline to keep you entertained in the sky – always assume nothing will be provided and, if something is (and it works) that’s just a nice bonus.

If you’re traveling as a family and not everyone has their own device it may be a good idea to invest in a headphone splitter so at least two people can watch one device at the same time – much cheaper than buying a whole separate device.


  1. surely you could’ve found a banner graphic that matches the headline … you know …. not a UA 757….

    • Not without violating copyright or upsetting someone – I don’t happen to have a 737 in my library.

      Perhaps I should have gone with a UA tail fin instead.

          • Well every other blog who has posted this story today took a random google images photo of the right plane.

            • Fair enough…

              If this has really bothered you that much I apologise but, considering the time you’ve taken out of your life to complain about a remarkably irrelevant point, I suggest taking a hard look at where your priorities lie

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