How to plan for no in flight entertainment device

A few weeks ago I was flying to California and overheard a conversation between a passenger and a flight attendant. “Apparently people prefer to watch movies on their phones instead of the IFEs, so they’re taking them out of most of the planes.”

Color me surprised. I actually prefer the IFEs, or in flight entertainment device, as they have way more options for movies and TV shows, plus, you know, Blackjack. Also the screens are bigger, and I don’t have to hold them–they’re just placed nicely in front of my face. However, they do impact how much legroom I have, since the boxes are typically under the seat in front of you. However, they didn’t ask me!

So what can you do? Here are a few ways to prepare for no in flight entertainment device on a flight:

  1. Bring a screen. Everyone flies with their phone, but not everyone likes watching movies on it. If you are a movie lover (like me!) but need a bigger screen make sure you pack a tablet, or use your computer.
  2. Bring power. The problem with using your mobile devices for movies and inflight wif is that the battery drains, and you won’t have enough power for calling Uber or navigating to your location. Just another reason to pack a powerbank! On travel days anytime I’m not using my phone it’s plugged into my powerbank.
  3. Download something to watch ahead of time. This takes a little more planning, but if you think your plane won’t have wifi or there is something specific you want to watch, download it ahead of time. Of course you can purchase things, but check the streaming services you already have. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime all have movies and tv shows you can download to your device to watch when you’re not connected to wifi.

Pro tip: Get a pop socket or ring for the back of your phone/table, which will help set it up on the tray table at a good angle for viewing.

Readers, do you prefer watching on an IFE or your own device?


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  1. This is hilarious. Title should read “How to travel like an adult”. Hard to believe people still board aircraft without their own IFE on their mobile device and a power pack which can be scored for $20. And a real book as a backup on every long flight.

    Dump the on board IFE. I’m tired of woodpeckers poking the back of my head during flights and the additional room in the footwell for my feet will be well received.

  2. I have my iPad loaded with content from Netflix, Amazon, and my cable DVR. I actually do prefer watching things on my own device than being at the mercy of whatever may happen to be on the DVR. I also like the device holders that many carriers now have on the seatbacks and wth wireless headphones it’s an awesome experience.

  3. I bring a tablet. Many of the IFE screens are old, small, and blurry. The IFE touchscreens suck, and I look forward to a long haul flight where the person behind me isn’t beating on the back of my seat as he is trying to navigate the on-screen menus.

  4. This doesn’t mean the airline won’t still be offering IFE. Look at Delta who offers it via the GoGo App on your own device.

  5. @Sandy you’re totally right! I forget that not everyone realizes that. Most (if not all) airlines offer free entertainment via their inflight wifi and mobile app.

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