Long flights can be a drag, but there’s nothing better to make the time fly and take your mind off cramped economy quarters than a good inflight entertainment system. These airlines have taken pains to make sure that your journey is about more than getting you from Point A to Point B, and have stocked their systems with so many distractions that you’ll forget you’re in the air.
Virgin Atlantic flights come equipped with seatback monitors chock full of recent releases, popular TV shows (including current Netflix and HBO faves), kids’ content, games, music, and even audiobooks. With a special platform dubbed Vera, you won’t be bored and can play whatever your heart desires even before and after take off. Meanwhile, sister airline Virgin America sports a similar seat-back system called Red, equipped with a very special extra feature: seat-to-seat chat, which allows you to make new friends or even anonymously send a glass of champagne to the cutie in 16C.
IcelandAir takes its contribution to the island nation’s growing tourism industry seriously. A great selection of Iceland-centric content introduces visitors to the country’s unique culture through a seatback personal entertainment system. Learn about volcanic eruptions and culinary legacies through short episodic content, listen to music by various local artists (turns out there are many besides Björk), or watch movies directed by Icelanders or shot in the country’s rugged landscapes alongside Hollywood blockbusters and American television shows.
You’ll never have to curse your ill-timed flight again for causing you to miss a game—JetBlue streams DirecTV to every seat for free, allowing for appointment viewing and live channel surfing. With 36 channels on most planes and over 100 channels on A321s, it’s as good as a session on your couch. Actually, it’s even better, since you don’t even have to stand up to get your hands on some free chips and soft drinks. Add in free SiriusXM, $5 on-demand movies, and free Wi-Fi that supports on- and off-line access to media from such sources as Vice and the Wall Street Journal on your devices, and you’ve got yourself a winner.
Consistently voted among the top ten airlines for inflight entertainment, Qantas makes the cut for the sheer scale of its offerings. International flights have between 300-1500 entertainment options for passengers to choose from depending on plane type. Movies, shows, music, games, radio, and a dedicated Kids Zone keep folks occupied, and a quick download of the PressReader app on your devices before you board gives you a twelve hour window of complimentary access to thousands of newspapers and magazines.
5. Qatar Airways
Qatar’s Oryx One system offers a whopping 2000 ways to distract yourself and boasts featured collections including the “Al Pacino Collection” and the complete set of films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Content comes in a range of languages and also includes plenty that will introduce visitors to Qatari and Middle Eastern culture. Listen to a live concert recording of a Yemeni singer, then switch to a movie for a dose of Hulk smash… talk about eclectic.
Emirates can boast that it’s won Best Inflight Entertainment from the Skytrax World Airline Awards for eleven years running, and basically combines everything that the aforementioned airlines offer into one crazy comprehensive package. The airline’s Ice system boasts digital widescreens in every seatback plus game controllers with their own miniature screens, 2000 channels organized by genre from which passengers can create custom playlists, email and texting capabilities, seat-to-seat chatting, and a feature that lets you see the view from cameras mounted on the plane’s exterior. Certain flights also offer live satellite TV. What more could any 21st century traveler possibly ask for?