American Airlines introduces inflight streaming video to your laptop

By John Walton, August 15 2011
American Airlines introduces inflight streaming video to your laptop

American Airlines passengers can watch streaming movies over in-flight wifi, in a world first.

So if you're taking our advice and connecting through Los Angeles rather than Dallas for New York and Miami, you'll have another option for in-flight entertainment.

American is launching the system -- which is basically a movie server sitting on board the plane -- on its Boeing 767-200 fleet, the mainstay of its Flagship Service from New York to LA and San Francisco, plus LA to Miami.

The system isn't direct streaming from the ground, so you won't be able to watch the latest movie on your Netflix queue. But if you've burned through everything on your laptop on the long trans-Pacific leg of your journey, it's good to have some other options.

Prices sound reasonable too, at 99c for a TV show and $3.99 for a movie, and you'll need a credit card to order them. You'll be able to watch movies for 24 hours -- even after you land -- while TV shows have a 72-hour lifespan.

You don't need to buy the $10 in-flight wifi to stream movies, either.

Usefully, options are sorted by timespan. So if you've napped through the first half of the flight and are wide awake, the system can tell you what you can get through on the flight.

The airline plans to roll the system out to its other Gogo wifi-equipped aircraft later in the year.

Have a look at American's demo video for the service if you're especially interested.

Only "select personal wifi-enabled laptops" are supported -- and since the demo video was using Windows XP, we'd suggest being careful to check that your particular notebook is supported.

American currently says that the 767-200 fleet has at-seat power points, although you may well need an adapter. 

American previously announced that it will be offering pre-loaded Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablets in premium classes on its flights.

Market challenger Southwest Airlines also launched an inflight iTunes download service using Row 44 inflight Wi-Fi in March, called "InAirtainment".

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

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