Seattle, WA 13 Nov. 2009. I was in Seattle, WA for a few hours and it time to head back. I was intrigued as it would be he first time I would experience Continental Airlines’ take on DIRECTV. Before I boarded I looked through the window at the airplane to ensure that it had the hug parabolic dish on top of the airplane. This is one of the elements that makes it all possible.
I was the last person to board this Boeing 737-900ER flight; at the door, there was a sticker with the DIRECTV logo, just in case you were not sure. As I boarded, the flight attendant pointed me to a box on the right in the closet. It said “Take a free headset,” so I did. The flight attendant then advised me that there was a charge for DIRECTV and the directions were on the screen at my seat.
As I made my way to my seat, I noticed that everyone had headsets in and were all quiet and watching TV. I remembered this same experience on jetBlue when I flew them for a month back in September/October 2009. It was the quietest I’ve ever seen a boarded airplane.
I eventually got the attention of the passenger at the aisle as I had the middle seat. He was really into the TV in front of him. I moved into my seat and settled in then started sampling the offerings myself. You can view the offerings at http://www.continental.com/web/en-US/content/travel/inflight/entertainment/directv/default.aspx on the Continental Airlines Web site.
On the tip of the armrest to my left, the system has a GUIDE button which tells you what is available onscreen. This is in addition to the normal channel and volume buttons plus a SELECT button and brightness controls. There was a message on screen that advised that the charge was 6.00 USD and that you can use a credit/debit card to swipe on the right. The same message also advised that you were receiving a free preview so you should go ahead and swipe your credit/debit card now so you don’t get interrupted later.
I played around with it for a bit checking out the channels. There were lots of sports stuff going on as well as movies. I did take note that Harry Potter was starting in ten minutes which would have been 3:00a on the East coast of the U.S. I don’t have DIRECTV at home so this was all new to me.
I did notice that there is a power plug just under my seat to the right; yea. I had run down both the computer and my phone batteries in the airport, so this would be very useful during the flight. I had to wait to get above 10,000′ to plug in though.
The door soon closed, then the flight attendants gave the safety demo manually as there is not a recorded one on the system. We then headed out to the runway and as it was so late, we departed fairly quickly into the cold night skies.
My free time had run out just before we left the ground, so I swiped my card when we got airborne and followed the instructions to activate the system. There is no charge in First class by the way. I was not really watching anything, just surfing channels. It was late and not much to see on TV anyways. I looked around and the folks I could see were not watching TV as they had the “your free time is up” screen up; I guess they were asleep. I was trying to find some audio channels, but could not, so I nodded off, just as the beverage service started. I did have some cranapple juice, but not the pretzels before going to sleep.
I was awoken a few hours later as we were preparing for landing in Houston. I put my stuff (computer, cell phone and electrical plugs) away and went back to sleep awaking when I got to the gate and heard the ding from the seatbelt sign going off.
All in all, it was a good experience; I have to plan a long flight during the daytime so I can experience it all without falling asleep.
Have you flown an airplane with DIRECTV? If so, how was your experience?