Continental Airlines to offer onboard Wi-Fi, live television on domestic flights

Continental Airlines today announced that it has entered into an agreement with LiveTV, L.L.C. that will allow Continental to offer 36 channels of live, inflight satellite-based television programming provided by DIRECTV, the nation’s leading satellite television provider, at every seat on Continental’s new generation aircraft. The service is expected to be available to customers on flights operating within the continental United States beginning in January 2009.

In addition, Continental will be introducing onboard Wi-Fi services including e-mail and instant messaging connectivity offered by LiveTV.

“Our customers want more inflight entertainment and communication options,” said Larry Kellner, Continental’s chairman and chief executive office, in the press release. “We have been closely watching technology developments and are delighted to have teamed up with LiveTV to offer live television programming and communication to our customers.”

Customers will be able to choose from a variety of quality programming from DIRECTV including sports, news, weather, children’s programming and general entertainment. The initial channel programming lineup offered through the inflight entertainment system is expected to include CBS, NBC, FOX News, CNN Headline News, ESPN, Animal Planet, The History Channel, Food Network, Nickelodeon, MTV and other popular channels. The inflight entertainment system will also offer a moving map and other stored informational and entertainment content. Continental will offer complimentary access to the system to all first-class customers. Economy-class customers will be able to access the system by paying a $6 access fee.

In addition, Continental will offer complimentary Wi-Fi connectivity services allowing customers to access e-mail and instant messaging subject to LiveTV being able to offer the service, which is still in the testing phase. Customers will be able to use the service with Wi-Fi enabled smartphones and laptops to connect to work, friends and family via Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! Messenger and BlackBerry e-mail and BlackBerry Messenger services.

The new services will be installed on Continental’s fleet of Boeing 737 New Generation aircraft, including the 737-700, -800, -900 and -900ER aircraft, and the Boeing 757-300.

Source: Continental Airlines


  1. This is huge for someone that is a frequent traveller (like me). Looking forward to using my MacBook Pro and iPhone on the plane to access the internet (versus having to download pages to read).

  2. Yessssss!!!

    Last time I flew to England, I had more fun watching the maps with inflight status than I did the available programming.
    Trust me, Godthab was the last interesting thing I saw ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

  3. I wonder how this will work with an iPhone. The Airplane mode tunes off both the phone and WI-FI, I think. I’ll bet the airline will still want the phone off. If so, Apple will need to make a change to have this be useful for iPhone users.

  4. Lay off C1!

    Hmmm…snarky. Anyhow, I can’t wait for wifi access. The airlines will realize it saves money, as people will be more engrossed in surfing the web, and won’t be missing those old sandwiches.

  5. I am very familiar with this technology. There is one JetBlue airplane testing this out. A LiveTV technician is onboard every flight testing signal strength and any dead spots. At this point, no internet access is available just SMS messages and email through your Blackberry (very fast) or Yahoo mail.

    The iPhone is not supposed to be used on these flights since there is no way to turn off the phone portion and still have the WiFi on.

  6. This is fantastic news – the bit about web access that is. For $6 for a flight, it’s pretty reasonable… being able to IM and email would be cool, and would help pass the time on a long flight.

    The channel line up is interesting. It seems similar to what you receive in a hotel, which I’ve always found to be heavy on the news and sports (1/2 the channels it seems sometimes!)

    The odd one in the line up has to be the food network. I mean, a) it’ll make you hungry and b) I don’t think they’d appreciate everyone whipping out frying pans to cook up what they’re watching…. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”tongue laugh” style=”border:0;” />

    I guess anything is good if it helps you to forget just how bad cattle class is on aircraft.

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