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Best In-Flight Experiences, Ranked

Ease your mind as you take to the skies with CableTV’s airline entertainment guide.

If you’re the type that would rather make an emergency landing than die of boredom on a flight, then you’ll want to see which companies fly high when it comes to comfort in the sky.

We gathered some of the need-to-know info on your favorite (and least favorite) airlines and their various ways of keeping you calm as you cross the clouds.

Top 10 airlines for in-flight experience

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AirlineRank
JetBlue1
Delta Air Lines2
United Airlines3
American Airlines4
Alaska Airlines5
Southwest Airlines6
Hawaiian Airlines7
Allegiant Air / Frontier Airlines / Spirit Airlines8th place (tie)

 

JetBlue — #1

JetBlue offers cozy seats with plenty of legroom, snooze kits with eye masks and earplugs, and the ability to watch live TV with 36 channels on E190 and A320 planes, plus over one hundred channels on A321 planes.

You also get power and USB outlets for your devices, which have access to free in-flight Wi-Fi, so you can keep nail-biting your way through Netflix’s Mindhunter until you make it to Montego Bay. Of course, snacks and non-alcoholic drinks are free too.

And if you’re willing to dish out the dough on your qualifying flight, you can upgrade to JetBlue’s Mint option. This premium service has lay-down seats so you can actually sleep, super dope headphones for your use, artisanal food and ice cream, DIRECTV and SiriusXM Radio, and a ton of other stuff.

Image: JetBlue

You even get a free swag bag to keep with JetBlue Mint. Overall, it’s a cozy and convenient company that caters to your comfort.

Delta Airlines — #2

If you’ve ever flown Delta, you know you can enjoy a hot towel, a decent meal (or two), some snacks, and drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) as often as you want—or at least as often as they’re willing to make their way down the aisles to serve you. On Delta One (premium service) flights, you can get flat-bed seats too. Time to catch some z’s.

The reason why Delta loses to JetBlue is because of its expensive Wi-Fi ($16 compared to free). So download some shows and music beforehand, or trust that the screen ahead of you will have a few things worth watching. These screens are even available on basic economy seats.

Flight stewardess serving drinks to customer on plane

Image: Delta

United Airlines — #3

United Airlines will let you buy Wi-Fi for $19, which may or may not be worth it—it kind of depends on how long your flight is. But on top of Wi-Fi, United Airlines also has United Private Screening, which acts as a media library you can access from your laptop or Apple and Android devices.

United Airlines offers DIRECTV free of charge on select frights, giving you more than 100 TV channels to surf through, along with new movies and old favorites. Or you can throw on the Vevo channel for music videos. Just make sure to charge your devices ahead of time—not all of United’s flights have power outlets yet.

Row of economy seats on a United Airlines plane

Image: United

Aside from the ability to watch from your own device or having a ton of stuff to watch on your seatback screen, United Airlines does a pretty standard job of airline fare.

What about the rest?

Aside from the top three airlines named above, you can get in-flight Wi-Fi from American, Alaska, and Southwest. And hence, a lack of Wi-Fi is the biggest reason for the last-place tie between Allegiant, Frontier, and Spirit airlines.

If you want an entertainment console, forget about it on Frontier and Spirit. They don’t have the ability for you to watch in-flight entertainment on your own console, unlike Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, and United.

Flying with Allegiant? Definitely make sure to bring a laptop, music player, a book, or anything that will keep you entertained while you’re on a flight without Wi-Fi or an entertainment console.

And, on top of that, you have to pay premium prices for the snacks that other companies give out for free. We know the old “What’s up with airline food?” joke has validity with some airlines, but we’ve also had some truly good grub on our Delta flights.

How we ranked the airlines

To determine each airline’s ranking for in-flight entertainment setups, our data analysis team took a look at each US airline company and compared information.

Points of interest included in-seat entertainment consoles, the ability to access entertainment using a personal console (a tablet, laptop, or phone), access to USB or outlets, and the variety of movies, television channels, games, and music.

We weighed these categories based on the level of priority, and each airline was assigned a ranking. The budget airlines tying for last place lacked some of the Wi-Fi and in-flight entertainment options we want from an airline.

Leaving on a jet plane?

Whether you’re on vacation, visiting family, or getting out of Dodge for a bit, traveling on an airplane can be a bit rough sometimes. Time flies when you’re distracted, though, so we hope you found this list helpful.

Have you had any particularly good in-flight experiences? Let us know which airlines you think have the best service in the skies and which airlines seem like they’re just winging it as they go.

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