Free In Flight Movies – they rock, but are harder to find

See those screens? Where did they go? I want my MTV…

I used to love Delta Airlines, and willingly paid more for their expensive tickets.

Why? They had movies, over a hundred film options (some barely out of the cinemas, plus new popular TV show episodes), built into the backs of their comfy, relatively wide seats. For free. You brought or bought headphones, plugged them in, and blissed out for hours. I could catch up on lots of cool movies I didn’t get to see before, and arrive at my destination without stress. It was like having my own tiny, private movie theater, with flight attendants serving hot & cold running drinks. In coach!

So now, with airlines getting more and more stingy, why has Delta suddenly made my upcoming coast-to-coast CROSS COUNTRY red-eye flight a frustrating ordeal? I can’t even select my own seat anymore without a $30 fee (which means…the dreaded middle seat). But more importantly: I counted on having an in-flight personal movie selection for the long night flight. There’s no way pre-loaded entertainment on my phone or laptop will last long enough to fill the gap of midnight flight desperation.

Am I peeved? You bet. More than peeved. I could use stronger language here, since this is a long, late flight from RunPee HQ in San Diego to RunPee HQ in Orlando, and now I’ll be too tired to read, but not comfortable enough to sleep.  I want my movies.

Am I being picky over nothing? The touch-screen seat movies made flying almost acceptable again, in my mind. What’s your recent flight experience with free film screens? If you have tips on how to find these flights, add to the comments below.

How People Stay Germ-Free on Flights

Tips to Prevent Catching Swine Flu at the Movies


Avoid Flu Germs in When Flying

Travelers on planes are trapped, breathing the same air as dozens of other passengers. Some of these people are bound to be ill, down with a flu or cold, possibly carrying some other contagious microbe. The Independent Traveler says travelers “may be more than 100 times as likely to catch a cold on a plane as in your normal daily rounds”.

New emerging diseases travel around the world via air flight. Movies like Outbreak (1995) offer possible scenarios that the World Health Organization (WHO) would be hard-pressed to prevent.

WHO reports, “In the Middle Ages deadly plagues were shipped from one continent to another – carried by flea-infested rats on board ships. Today they travel by plane – carried by airline passengers from one corner of the earth to another. And all in a matter of hours.”

People in planes are sneezing, coughing, wiping their noses and touching things…in the same cabin as you. Breathing recirculated air. This can’t be good.

How to prevent catching germs when you fly:

  • Take Airborne. This supercharged vitamin and mineral cocktail fizzes in water and doesn’t taste bad at all. I actually like my Airborne a little more concentrated than recommended for a super fizzy sensation. Airborne users need to keep taking the tablets once they start, however, as recommended (every two hours, for a few hours before the flight, during and after). Taking this pill just once isn’t going to cut it. Travelers serious about not coming down with a flu from their flight take heed and follow directions.
  • Some travelers swear by massive doses of Vitamin C, taking antioxidants, Zinc lozenges or Selenium tablets, or even fortifying their systems with pre-flight doses of herbal Echinacea. Do your research and ask your doctor before you try any self-prescribed herbal concoctions, especially if you are taking medications that might be contraindicated.
  • Hydrate your body and sinuses. Drink lots of water, hot tea and juice (and less dehydrating coffee, cola and booze). Arid cabin air dries out crucial protective sinuses, leaving travelers more vulnerable to microbial infection. Steam from hydrating beverages like herbal teas will help keep mucous membranes moist. Basically, just keep drinking fluids all flight long. An aisle seat will make things easier for those inevitable trips to the toilet.
  • Look into flu shots, nasal flu sprays, and other new antivirals coming out all the time.
  • Try not to fly during high flu seasons or when the news is reporting an outbreak. The world is very small these days – a microbe from New Guinea could lurk on a armrest, right next to you, on tomorrow’s commuter flight.
  • Consider avoiding the most popular international travel routes.
  • Wear a face filter mask. This would work if people had the nerve to wear them during a flight. A mask could almost completely prevent illness via air droplets, used properly.
  • Wear gloves. Surgical gloves might be less obvious than a facial mask. This won’t provide protection against airborne droplets, but will keep you from touching things and wiping your face.
  • Fly First Class or Business Class. The better class seats are further apart. This can only be helpful when someones sneezes. Or think about a private jet.
  • No gloves or masks handy? Try not to touch anything with your hands. Don’t shake hands with anyone. Avoid opening the overhead compartment or toilet handles with your bare hands – use your sleeve or a bandana/hanky. If you do have to touch something, remember to wash your hands briskly, with hot water and soap, before touching your face or eating.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer – a germicidal gel – if you cannot wash your hands.
  • Use a travel sized container of a germ killing mouthwash like Listerine during flights.
  • Wipe surfaces like arm rests, tray tables, seat belt buckles, vent controls and other non-porous surfaces with something like Clorox Wipes. Bring your own wipes and don’t be afraid to use them.
  • Try not to talk to too many passengers in general. People can be contagious with something and not even show signs of illness.
  • Move your seat, if possible, if your seatmates are sneezing, coughing or exhibiting obvious signs of flu or cold illness. You have the right to protect your health.

The Single Best Way to Prevent Illness:

Live a healthy lifestyle – eat right, sleep lots, prevent stress, don’t smoke, and get some exercise. Yes, easier said than done for the busy businessman/woman. Living right will help your immune system do its job. Business travelers would do well to allow slack time in their busy lives to this sort of flu prevention. Remember, sick time is downtime, after all.

How People Stay Germ-Free on Flights

When I wrote for Suite101 I posted a poll asking if people fear germs in airplanes. What choices do frequent flyers have to prevent the flu? Here are people’s answers:

“I don’t touch anything if I can help it”

Most readers (a whopping 40%) chose the unreliable but totally appealing method of “not touching things on planes.” Touching things is pretty hard to avoid if you think about it, especially on long flights that require constant viligance. Germs lie everywhere in airplanes – on arm rests, light and call buttons, overhead bin handles, bathroom doors and flush buttons, tray tables and window shades.

With some juggling around – using your elbows and sleeves, for example, to manipulate things – you can reduce the amount of direct contacts. You can also wash your hands frequently after touching people and things, avoid touching your face, religiously apply germ santizers, or wear surgical gloves.

Someone should step forward and be brave enough to wear surgical gloves on a plane.

But, the problem still remains even if you touch nothing – microbial germs are also in the air, from people coughing, sneezing, talking and simply breathing. Since “not breathing” is not an option, wearing a face mask could help.

No one seems brave enough to risk looking ridiculous wearing a mask as yet, either.

“I sedate myself with booze in flight”

20% of Business Traveler readers indicated that a steady supply of airline booze was a great way to fight off infection while flying. Perhaps this is simply wishful thinking or even rationalization, but it’s a known fact that alcohol, and especially red wine, contains helpful antioxidants. Alcoholic spirits are also a time-honored disinfectant for field surgery.

However, there is no proof that liquor can vanquish the flu, or even a cold. And remember, alcohol also dehydrates the body, which is not useful for a tip-top, healthily functioning immune system.

The third choice was a tie between:

“I swear by Airborne” and “I take First or Business Class and don’t worry about it,” with each taking 15% of the votes.

Airborne seems helpful if taken correctly, which is a bit of work; one needs to down the tablets in water before the flight, during the flight, and after the flight. Airborne isn’t cheap, but at least it tastes okay. If travelers are mindful to keep on schedule, the Vitamin C, zinc, antioxidants and other helpful herbs seem to do the trick in staving off nasty post-flight respiratory infections.

Taking First or Business Class is also highly recommended if one has the means. Seats are further apart, there is a private bathroom and fewer sick children coughing on the back of your seat. You get decent meals with healthy vegetables and fruit. Frequent soothing hot beverages and even hotter face towels flow like wine.

Will a better flight class keep you from getting sick? Well, probably not – even those on an expense account can catch a cold and spread it to the rest of the luxury passengers. But at least you will be further apart from your neighbors. You might even get some restful, healing sleep in those comfy horizontal sleep pods.

“I drink soothing, hydrating herbal teas or orange juice”

Only 10% of readers chose to imbibe juices or hot teas to keep dry, infectious plane air at bay. Perhaps most readers would rather drink the booze, or rely on Airborne instead of O.J.

So there it is: drink a lot in first class while touching nothing and popping your Airborne.