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Can You Watch Netflix on a Plane?

Let’s be honest: long flights can be downright boring. 

If you’re not sitting by a window, then the view you’ll have for the next couple of hours will remain fairly the same. And the only thrilling bit of your journey will stem from the plane’s rattling bout of turbulence. 

So one of the ways that passengers try to entertain themselves is by catching up on their favorite movie or TV show. This brings us to the question, can you watch Netflix on a plane? Now, the short answer to this is, yes, you can. 

But ultimately, it boils down to the airline you choose. Different airlines have different policies, with most requiring passengers to pay upfront for streaming on the plane’s Wi-Fi equipped devices. Even then, other airlines prohibit passengers from using their Wi-Fi to stream. 

American Airlines has this to say, 

“Upgraded, high-speed Wi-Fi is available to buy on select domestic flights. Browse the internet, check emails and stream video services like Netflix, Hulu and HBO faster than ever before.”

For others like United, video streaming capability is yet to be allowed. Here’s what the company says on its website,

“Video streaming capability over United Wi-Fi is being added to our fleet over time starting in late 2021. Video streaming may still be unavailable on certain flights or with certain United Wi-Fi plans.”

If you’re traveling on a budget, you probably don’t want to spend extra paying for an airline’s Wi-Fi services. This can leave you wondering, “Is it possible to watch Netflix without WiFi?”

Can You Watch Netflix Without Wi-Fi?

Yes, you can. 

The beauty about Netflix streaming platform is that it lets you download content in advance for offline viewing. 

So when you’re organizing your travel plans, remember to pick and download the movies you’d like to watch during your flight. 

How to Download Netflix Content to Watch Offline

watching netflix at the beach

Here are the steps to take to watch Netflix content offline:

1. Update your Netflix App

The first thing you need to do is to update your Netflix app. If your gadget is not set to update apps automatically, visit the relevant app store to do so. For Android users, visit Google play store, and for Apple die-hards, visit Apple app store

If using a Windows 10 browser, then navigate the cursor to the store icon either on the taskbar or start menu. 

Next, go to the user icon and choose either updates or downloads. Lastly, click on the tab “check for updates”. This will automatically initiate the updating process of your Netflix application.

2. Determine the Quality of Download

One thing we like about the Netflix download process is that it lets you choose the level of resolution. 

Usually, you’ll be presented with two choices: Standard or Higher. The latter appears to be the high definition kind with a resolution ranging between 720p and 1080p.

To choose between the two, determine how much storage space you have on your phone. The Standard option doesn’t require as much storage space and it lets you download content pretty quickly.

Another factor that comes into play is the type of device you’ll watch from. If you plan to use your smartphone, then the standard resolution will work just fine. But if you’ll use your laptop, you’re better off opting for the higher resolution. 

When you want to choose your preferred download quality, all you need to do is go to the app settings menu. This could be labeled More or found under the profile tab on your Android or iOS application. 

Once you find this icon, head to Downloads and click Video Quality or Download Video Quality.  You’ll then be presented with the two options to pick from. 

3. Choose Content

And now to the fun part: choosing your favorite movie or tv series!

But before you get too excited, it’s important to note that not all the content on Netflix can be downloaded. The good news is, it’s very easy to determine which films you can download and which ones you can’t. 

All you need to go is to the Categories and you’ll see a heading titled “Available for Download”. This is located in the same place where you’ll find other genres such as Action, Comedies, Crime among others. 

In the event that you’re using a Windows 10 device, you will find this download section under Home

4. Download

Once you’ve chosen your content, you can start downloading. Look for the Download tab attached to the film and click on it.

Fun fact: this streaming platform lets you select your preferred storage location. Initially, Netflix would automatically download the content to the gadget on which the app was hosted. 

But, things have since changed. You have the freedom to connect a microSD card to your cell phone and store content on it. 

Can I Stream Netflix with Airplane WiFi?

watching netflix on a phone

Unfortunately, there’s no straightforward answer to this question. 

As we mentioned earlier, this will depend on the airline you choose. To make your selection easy, here’s a list of airlines that allow passengers to stream on their Wi-Fi.

  • JetBlue (completely free)
  • American Airline (starts at $10)
  • Delta (offers a monthly subscription of $49.95)
  • Southwest (plan starts at $8/day)
  • United (gives you option to pay in cash or using miles) 

Final Thoughts

If you’ve been wondering whether you can watch Netflix on a plane, the answer is yes. But depending on the approach you use, this may cost you extra.

For passengers who would like to stream directly, most airlines charge extra for WiFi streaming services. The alternative to this is to download content on your personal device and watch offline during your flight. This way, you won’t need WiFi to watch, and can save money in the process. 

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Hayden Wall

Hayden is the founder of Travel Gear Discounts and tries to vacation as much as possible. He loves finding the latest travel accessories that will make getting out easier and planning the perfect weekend getaway.