How To Watch Movies On an Airplane: 2023 Best Entertainment Guide

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Are you a traveler looking for how to watch movies on an airplane? Whether enduring a long-haul flight or a short commuter trip, immersing yourself in TV shows and movies is the best way to pass the time. However, the pleasures of an in-flight entertainment system come with a unique set of challenges.

As a frequent traveler, I will use my experiences to guide you through practical tactics and tips to maximize your screen time and enrich your in-flight movie experience. I will cover the different techniques of watching movies while on a flight, the streaming options available, and the pros and cons of every method.

Keep reading to get all the information you need to maximize your comfort and have an uninterrupted and enjoyable movie-watching experience as you cruise miles above the ground.

Watch Movies On an Airplane

Best Airline for Onboard Entertainment

Onboard entertainment will vary based on the airline. Below I will share ratings on the best airline for onboard entertainment based on an analysis of airline entertainment offerings:

Airline

Ranking on a 5-point scale

JetBlue:

5.0

Delta:

4.3

Southwest:

4.2

Alaska:

4.1

Emirates:

4.1

Air Canada:

3.9

American:

3.9

Virgin Atlantic:

3.7

ANA:

3.6

United:

3.6

British:

3.4

Hawaiian:

3.2

Spirit:

1.4

Frontier:

1.0

In the clouds, let your imagination soar with the silver screen. Watching movies on an airplane is a cinematic journey that will take you to new heights. Sky Cinema Explorer

How To Watch Movies On an Airplane?

Whether you want to relax and entertain yourself or are a movie fanatic looking to catch up on the latest TV show releases during a long flight, there are many ways to achieve this. Here, I will share a few options you can use to watch movies or video content on a plane and the pros and cons of each method:

In-Flight Entertainment Digital Video

On my air travels, I’ve discovered an in-flight entertainment system can be an absolute game-changer. The seat-back screen is a personal portal to a realm of entertainment when flying on a larger commercial aircraft or specific airline. In-flight entertainment transforms my journey into a tailored experience with worthy TV shows and blockbuster movies.

In-Flight Entertainment Digital Video
Pros of In-Flight Entertainment Digital Video

Some of the benefits of in-flight entertainment digital video include:

  • Convenience: With in-flight entertainment, you can enjoy a huge selection of TV shows, and is easy to navigate and use.
  • No Additional Tools Needed: With in-flight entertainment, there is not much stress because you don’t need your device to watch movies.
  • Shared Experiences: You can also watch movies with your seatmate and talk to about the movie or show.
Cons of In-Flight Entertainment Digital Video

The in-flight entertainment digital video has a few drawbacks. Some of the disadvantages I have experienced include:

  • Limitations: From my travels, I’ve often found in-flight entertainment system options always fall short on variety. This is unlike streaming services that continuously update their libraries. The content selection on most airplanes is pretty stagnant and leaves me yearning for more diverse movies and TV shows.
  • Quality Issues: I have also noticed considerable differences concerning quality. Streaming services and personal electronic devices deliver great visuals with superior quality and higher resolution than in-flight entertainment systems.
  • Headphones: I’ve also learned that relying on in-flight entertainment systems can be a tangled mess. You must pack lots of patience and cables for connecting your headphones to the plane’s system. This can be pretty inconvenient, especially for travelers accustomed to the seamless convenience of AirPods or Bluetooth.
  • Technical Problems: Technical glitches on in-flight entertainment systems can turn your anticipated movie time into a frustrating experience. Glitchy screens, damaged headphones, and other issues can dampen your in-flight movie plans. This is a constant reminder that even while cruising in the skies, technology has its hiccups.

Personal Devices

By embracing the simplicity of airplane travel, I’ve found the best way to enjoy films is with the device already in my hands. Whether its my compact tablet or my trusted smartphone, my personal electronic device guarantees an enjoyable and seamless experience.

By downloading TV shows or films for offline viewing, I am breaking free from the restrictions of airplanes’ entertainment systems and creating my mini cinema at over 30,000 feet. It’s undoubtedly the perfect travel hack that turns those many hours in the air into a highly personalized movie escape.

Personal Devices
Pros of Personal Electronic Devices

Using my own gadgets to watch movies on a plane has truly become a game-changer because of the many benefits they offer. They include the following:

  • More Selections: Unlike the limited options on in-flight entertainment systems, my personal devices open up a world of limitless choices and freedom. From the latest films on Amazon Video App to sentimental favorites on Netflix and Disney, it makes every flight a cinematic adventure.
  • Familiarity: Navigating through my personal gadget always feels second to nature, guaranteeing an enjoyable and hassle-free movie time while on the airplane.
  • Better Sound and Picture Quality: With higher resolutions and superior sound quality, my personal gadgets transform into portable theaters, offering an auditory and visual delight that surpasses the standard in-flight fare.  
  • Customization: The ability to customize settings – from volume to brightness –adds another layer of personalization, making every movie-watching session uniquely custom-made to my preferences. It’s a simple and effective way of transforming those hours in the sky into a customized entertainment escape.
Cons of Personal Devices

Embarking on my cinematic escapades with personal electronic devices, I’ve encountered a few disadvantages that add a touch of reality to my in-flight movie experience. Here, I have highlighted a few demerits of personal gadgets:

  • Must Carry Your Device: Although having my own entertainment is convenient, it comes with the responsibility of lugging around my gadgets and essential accessories. It’s a minor inconvenience, yet the additional weight of having all my essentials for offline use becomes apparent when traveling on a plane.
  • Limited Battery Life: Picture this: Just as the plot begins to thicken and tension rises, you experience the dreaded low battery warning. That’s why I always carry my power bank or opt for airlines that offer charging outlets to avoid the possibility of my movie ending prematurely. Without these, you will struggle trying to preserve battery life throughout your journey.
  • Airline Regulations: Some airlines have restrictions on the use of personal electronic devices during different phases of the flight. Timing my in-flight movie sessions to align with the airline regulations ensures I don’t miss out on important scenes because of unexpected interruptions.
Note: While my personal electronic devices offer a trove of excellent entertainment, these practical hiccups always remind me that even in the skies, a bit of planning is crucial for an uninterrupted experience of streaming movies.

7 Additional Ways of Watching Movies on a Plane

There are many other ways that I watch movies on a plane. Some of these methods include the following:

1. Download Movies from Netflix

Before traveling, I always download my movies from Netflix and save them on the phone to watch while on the plane. I use MovPilot Netflix Video Downloader for advanced movie download functionality to help me download these shows to MP4/MKV and utilize its audio and multi-language subtitles functionality. With these movies, you enjoy video quality of up to 1080p in MP4/MKV formats.

Download Movies from Netflix

I will briefly show you how to download TV shows or movies from Netflix. Let’s get started:

  • Install the MovPilot Netflix Video Downloader and open the App to log into your Netflix account.
  • Use the built-in search functionality to search for movies you love and download for playing offline while traveling.
  • Before downloading, you can click on the gear icon in the upper-right corner to adjust the output settings, such as language, format, codec, and more.
  • Tap the download icon to Save the Netflix movies offline.
  • Transfer your downloaded Netflix movies to your phone for preservation and enjoy them on your device whenever you need.

2. Saving Amazon Prime Movies Off the App

Another method I love using is saving TV shows and movies from the Amazon Prime movies App. To ensure access to free Amazon Prime movie playback offline, save them off the Amazon app to eliminate streaming service restrictions in advance. Here is what I love about the MovPilot Amazon Prime Video Downloader:

Saving Amazon Prime Movies Off the App
  • Easy to grasp functionality.
  • I can download movies from Amazon Prime to conventional MP4 MKV formats with quality of up to HD 1080p.
  • The App preserves the original audio quality.
  • Optional language of the videos is also available, ensuring your movies are available in your preferred languages.
  • Enjoy a similar movie streaming experience.

Here is a step-by-step process of how I download Amazon Prime movies using MovPilot Amazon Prime Video Downloader:

  • Launch your software and log into the Amazon Prime video using the pop-up login window.
  • On the main interface, search for movies you desire to save.
  • After finding your movies for download, tap the settings icon and customize features such as codec, format, and language before downloading.
  • Click the download icon to save your Amazon Prime movies offline.
  • Utilize your iTunes or USB cable to sync the downloaded movies to iPhone or Android to enjoy offline playback while traveling on a plane.

3. Copying Film to Gallery, SD Card or Device Memory

One of the easiest options I use is copying films to the gallery, device memory, or SD card. If your media library has AVI, MP4, MPG, etc., copy files to your device memory and watch them through any player you have when traveling.

Copying Film to Gallery, SD Card or Device Memory

Here is how I copy movies to my gallery, device memory, or SD card:

  • Connect your smartphone to your laptop or PC.
  • Open the file manager to copy the file to your device, for instance, the Downloads or DCMI folder.
  • After copying your preferred films, safely disconnect the cable.
  • Install VLC video player to ensure comfortable viewing of all supported file formats.
  • Open the movie through the Android file manager or Gallery.

With this method, I can watch all types of movies on my personal electronic device when I switch to “On Airplane” mode. Furthermore, I don’t need mobile Internet or Wi-Fi, which makes it perfect when I’m traveling on an airplane.

4. Viewing Saved Videos on YouTube

Although YouTube is an excellent platform for viewing video content, such as interviews, instructional content, and documentaries. However, finding feature films in the public domain can be pretty challenging.

How To Watch Movies On An Airplane. Viewing Saved Videos on YouTube

To watch YouTube video content on a plane, you must have a Premium subscription. This costs approximately $10 monthly, allowing you to save videos you like for offline viewing. Here is how you can view saved videos on YouTube:

  • Download the YouTube app if it’s not installed on your device.
  • Ensure you are logged into your YouTube account with a Premium subscription.
  • Open the video content or movie you wish to watch on the plane.
  • Choose the Download option from the menu options.
  • Repeat this process for all videos you want to watch.
  • To watch movies while on a plane, go to the Saved or downloaded content and play your preferred video without using the Internet.
Note: Remember that this method of downloading and streaming movies will not work with the free version of the YouTube app. In addition, you can only watch videos on your phone and not your laptop.

5. Watching Movies through the Netflix App

If you’re a movie fanatic like me with a subscription to online theatre apps, you can explore the capabilities of mobile apps. Confirm whether there is an option for downloading movies or series for online viewing. One of the best apps I have used on my portable devices is the Netflix app.

Watching Movies through the Netflix App

From my experience, not every film on the App can be downloaded because of copyright restrictions. There is still a workaround to ensure your favorite movies are ready for offline viewing or on your flight. Here’s a quick guide I use to prepare Netflix app films for my offline entertainment needs:

  • Download the Netflix app on your smartphone.
  • Open the page with your preferred movie or other video.
  • Look for the download button and click on it. If the web page doesn’t have this option, the movie cannot be downloaded.
  • Go to the download section, to see all your downloaded movies in this tab. You can watch your movies or series comfortably while on your flight and without needing Wi-Fi services.
Remember: This offline viewing method is convenient, and works for most online services, including Apple TV and Amazon Prime. Not all online cinema apps offer airplane mode; however, things may change over time for end users.

6. Amazon Prime Video App

I have an Amazon Prime Video subscription, and I use the mobile app to download movies to my device and watch them offline or when traveling on a plane. The Windows and Mac version of the app allows me to download and enjoy offline content using my laptop. Here is a guide I use to watch movies on the airplane using the Amazon Prime app:

Amazon Prime Video App
  • Subscribe to Amazon Prime if you don’t have a subscription.
  • Download and launch the Amazon Prime Video app.
  • Log into your account from the device you will use to watch your movies.
  • Choose the film you wish to download, a specific episode, or your favorite show.
  • Personalize the video quality by selection- low, medium, or high.
  • Click on the download button and wait for the video content to complete downloading.
  • To watch offline, go to the download section of your app and tap the play button of the movie you wish to watch.
Remember: Not all Amazon Prime Video app movies are available for offline or flight viewing. In addition, some movies are not available in some countries.

7. Saving Movies via Google Play

This movie-watching method is suitable for iOS and Android devices. The best thing about it is that with a single Google Play account subscription, I can save videos on not more than five different devices.

However, this rule does not work for rented videos; you can only watch videos offline on a single device. But whenever I delete a video on one personal electronic device, I can freely download the same video content on another device.

7Saving Movies via Google Play

Here’s how I download my movies for offline viewing using Google Play:

  • Ensure your smartphone or tablet is connected to the Internet.
  • On your Google account, go to the Google Play Movies & TV app or use this link and open the library section.
  • Search for the specific movie you want to watch offline.
  • Click on the Download button and wait for the entire process to finish.
  • To watch your movies offline or with in-flight Wi-Fi, open the Google Play Movies & TV and begin watching your downloaded movie.
In the confined cabin of a flying vessel, transform your seat into a private theater. Movies on airplanes become a portal to escape, turning the journey into an immersive cinematic experience. Jetstream Visionary

Travelers Experience of Watching Movies on Plane

Most travelers have a positive experience of watching movies on an airplane; however, they urge people to be mindful of other travelers. Below, I will share some genuine customer reviews:  

  • Allen You: According to Allen Yu, you can use your laptop while traveling on an airplane. But you must carry your headphones and avoid watching distasteful movies. In addition, always comply with instructions from the flight crew when they ask you to put away the laptop. Otherwise, have lots of fun and enjoy your TV shows or movies.
  • Luca Moriero: Luca affirms that watching your favorite TV series like Air Crash Investigation on your next flight is okay. But you must be aware of those sitting close to you as they may find it strange, especially if they don’t know this TV series and get to see airplane accidents on your laptop.

FAQs

Can You Watch Netflix on an Airplane?

Yes, you can watch Netflix while on the plane by downloading TV shows and movies in advance and watching them offline on your device. When traveling, put your device in airplane mode and connect to the in-flight free Wi-Fi if available.

How Do I Download Movies To Watch On A Plane?

You can download movies to watch on the plane by connecting your own personal devices to the Internet, opening your preferred streaming service, such as Amazon Prime, Disney+, or Netflix, and downloading your favorite movie. You can now watch the downloaded content offline while traveling on a plane.

Can I Use Laptop In-Flight?

Yes, you can always use your laptop in-flight if you switch the device to airplane mode and adhere to the crew’s instructions to ensure a comfortable and safe flight. Most airlines allow passengers to use laptops once the plane reaches cruising altitude and the “fastened seatbelt” sign is off. However, all laptops should be stowed away during both takeoff and landing.

Is There Wi-Fi On Planes?

Most airlines today offer in-flight Wi-Fi for passengers, allowing them to connect to the Internet during their flight, check emails, stream content, or browse websites. To access the plane’s Wi-Fi, you need to connect to the airline’s network and follow their authentication process, which involves using a voucher code or payment.

How Do I Watch TV on an Airplane?

You can watch TV on an airplane by viewing pre-loaded TV shows or videos on your smartphone in airplane mode. For airlines that offer in-flight Wi-Fi entertainment systems, you can turn the Wi-Fi on and connect to the plane’s inflight Wi-Fi network. You can also use the in-flight free wifi to stream TV shows on your smartphone using streaming platforms such as Hulu, Netflix, and others.

Conclusion

Watching great movies on a plane can turn a long flight into an entertaining and enjoyable experience. You can stream movies, use your personal device, or in-flight entertainment, depending on your preferences. Choose a suitable personal device, prepare it for the flight, download movies, and utilize streaming options to guarantee a seamless movie-watching experience.

So, dive into a captivating TV show or movie next time you are on a plane to make the most of your journey. Be sure to bring your quality headphones, charge your smartphone beforehand, and use airplane mode to enhance your convenience and comfort while onboard. Sit back and enjoy in-flight entertainment as you begin your journey.

Have you ever encountered any restrictions or challenges while watching movies on a plane? Please share your experiences in the comment section below.

Author - Willa Carson
Happywayfarer author Willa Carson
Hi, I'm Willa Carson, a passionate traveler who has been exploring the world for 7 years. Whether it's trekking through the Himalayas, exploring ancient ruins in South America, or simply savoring a cup of coffee at a local cafe, I believe that travel has the power to enrich our lives in countless ways. So join me on my journey and let's discover the world together!
Read more about me here.

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