Want to go to the movies? There’s an airplane for that
Jon Nickel-D’Andrea, an ad salesman who lives in Seattle, hasn’t been to a multiplex in over a year. He’d be hard-pressed to tell you the name of the last movie he saw in a brick-and-mortar theater.
But that’s not to say Nickel-D’Andrea is out of the loop on recent releases. In the last year, he watched “a couple dozen” movies on long flights, from some of the most recent crop of Oscar contenders to obscure foreign-language titles.
“It doesn’t make sense for my husband and I to spend 40 or 50 bucks to go to a theater — the price of tickets, 12 dollars for soda and popcorn, plus driving and parking and all that,” he said. “But movies on a plane? What better way to spend a 16-hour flight? There’s no excuse. There’s nowhere else for me to go.”
Nickel-D’Andrea, who also blogs for the travel site No Mas Coach, isn’t the first American consumer to savor the pleasures of the in-flight flick. But in a world of rising movie ticket prices and overwhelming on-demand video options, some consumers have embraced binge-watching at 30,000 feet.
For some of the roughly 48 percent of American adults who fly commercial, the sky is a perfectly acceptable alternative to the multiplex, and in-flight entertainment has become a valuable cottage industry projected to be worth more than $7 billion by 2023, according to market research published by the firm MarketsandMarkets. Add the fact that the vast majority of movies are free (excluding the entry cost of airfare, of course), and consumers see a good deal.
Absolutely smashed the plane movie marathon. Vice, Spider-verse, Stan and Ollie, A Star is Born. Seven and a half hours of bliss.
— Martin Saunders 🤦🏻♂️ (@martinsaunders) April 22, 2019
— Veronica De La Cruz (@VeronicaDLCruz) April 17, 2019
The major airlines, for their part, have been happy to feed the appetite.
Delta, JetBlue and other leading carriers have revved up their investments in in-flight content, licensing a growing slate of blockbusters, award winners and family-friendly fare from Hollywood studios such as Warner Bros., Disney and Paramount soon after they play in traditional theaters, sometimes more quickly than the major streaming services.
Alaska Airlines, for instance, recently doubled its movie lineup, jumping from 137 titles last year to 415 as of this month, according to David Scotland, the company’s product manager of in-flight entertainment.
Reel’s up: In-flight movies by the numbers
The major airlines offer more movies than ever, including recent hits and awards winners.
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