United Airlines will upgrade the 747s that fly between Australia and the US to offer inflight Wi-Fi, the company's Australian office has confirmed.
However, it will only be used to allow passengers to stream movies to their laptops, iPads and other Wi-Fi enabled devices.
It's a long overdue upgrade for United's 747s flying between Australia and the US, which still have no inflight entertainment in economy-class seats, much to the surprise of passengers who fly United for the first time.
Now, United is leapfrogging installing inflight entertainment into the old planes altogether, opting instead for the more cost effective option of providing movie servers in the plane that passengers can access using their own devices.
The upgrades are only made possible due to the merger of United and Continental. Before these two giant airlines merged, United simply couldn't afford to upgrade its planes.
CEO Jeff Smisek admitted its 747s flying between Australia and the US weren't meeting passengers' expectations.
“The back of the product on the 747 that United flies to Australia is not an acceptable level of product," he told Australian Business Traveller.
“And I know that, I recognise that. But United on its own didn’t have the money to invest in that product. Now (with the United-Continental merger) it does, and we will.”
United Australia says it can't confirm when the inflight movie streaming will become available to passengers out of Australia.
No sign of inflight internet
According to a United Australia spokesperson, although it is installing Wi-Fi internet into many planes as part of a $550 million fleet upgrade, flights out of Australia will not be hooked up.
The Wi-Fi on United's trans-Pacific 747s will only be there for the purpose of streaming movies.
A company spokesman said internet would only be avaiable on Boeing 737s and 757s with DirecTV, which is only available in the mainland United States.