/ Travel & Leisure

Does in-flight entertainment make or break long-haul flights?

In-flight entertainment screens

There’s no doubting that comfort is integral to your enjoyment on a long-haul flight, but is airline entertainment just as key to your in-flight happiness?

When Which? Holiday reported on members’ favourite long-haul airlines this summer, it became clear that the overall flight experience was made up of many contributing factors, from baggage allowances to aircraft cleanliness.

But one of the biggest disparities between high and low score airlines was in on-board entertainment, with the top three airlines achieving high scores for their in-flight offering. So why is entertainment such an important factor?

Can’t live without on-board entertainment

I’ll never forget my disappointment when I boarded a flight from Mexico to London only to discover a very large and precise diagonal scratch across my seat-back screen. Little did I realise that this was the least of my problems as my frustrating scratch turned into a catastrophic faulty screen, leaving me to face the ten hour flight alone.

Neither the cursory apology nor an in-depth read of the in-flight magazine did anything to lift my spirits – as I was only confronted by a tantalising list of movies and TV programmes highlighting what I could have been watching.

In-flight entertainment more important than food?

With another long-haul flight in need of booking, I recalled some research I read earlier this year stating that after extra leg room and food, on-board entertainment is the third most important in-flight extra. This led me to conclude only one thing – that contrary to the research, I actually prefer TV to food!

In fact, I’ve even stopped watching films before a flight just in case they show the same ones on the plane. I have become reliant on the on-board entrainment to get me through a long flight, so much so that my future choice of airline may well be determined by it.

Am I alone, or is choosing an airline based on in-flight entertainment a little extreme? Would you pay more for a flight with better on-board entertainment, or should we all just stock up on some good old fashioned books?


I had a similar experience flying Hong Kong to London – though at least I was in the middle of a good book that was capable of keeping me entertained the whole way. Don’t think I’d choose an airline based on its entertainment offerings, though – for me it’s almost always down to who offers the best price.

I don’t think I’d ever choose an airline based on how good the in-flight entertainment was. I like to start my holiday journey off by catching up on some reading – in the same way I do during the holiday itself – as I find it’s the perfect way to relax. A good film is all well and good but a comfy seat and a large seat is much more important to me than the film the airline decides to show (especially as my last in-flight movie was Nanny McPhee – woeful…)