United’s New Entertainment System is Comically Bad

by Anthony Losanno

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I flew United Airlines from Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to Boston Logan International Airport (BOS). This was my first time trying out the new entertainment system. My verdict: It’s not good.


I was seated in my favorite spot, 1B. The plane was a 737 MAX 8 with new Bluetooth-enabled, 13-inch touchscreens in First Class. I haven’t been flying United much lately and when I do, I’m inevitably on an old Continental plane with DirecTV. You’ll never hear me complain about one of those birds as this new system was glitchy and didn’t work for most of the flight. I was also excited to try to use my AirPods, but the system just would not work properly.


In order to use your own Bluetooth headphones, you need to connect them through the in-flight entertainment system’s settings. I tried multiple times to pair my AirPod Pros with the system and they would not connect or show up in the list of available devices. They were charged and working as I was able to listen to music on my iPhone, but it took many tries to get them to pair.


Finally, they connected. I turned on an episode of The Office (“The Dinner Party” is one of my favorites). Even with the onscreen volume turned all the way to maximum, barely any sound came through my AirPods.

UA Wi-Fi

The Wi-Fi and outlets worked sporadically. Every time one of them stopped functioning, the flight attendants reset the system (it apparently connects Wi-Fi, onscreen entertainment, and power together).

UA Breakfast

The only positive of this flight was the breakfast. I enjoyed my waffle with apple berry compote.

Anthony’s Take: United once again reminded me why I choose Delta more often these days. While I’m in flight, I need power and especially Wi-Fi. It worked for only brief minutes at a time before the flight attendants reset the system over and over. The service was fine and the meal was tasty, but that doesn’t make up for the faulty tech.

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