Delta created a 'Netflix in the sky' app that lets you watch movies for free, and it's awesome

Searching for entertainment during my Delta flight from NYC to Atlanta, I took out my iPad in the unrealistic hope that some glitch would let me connect to the internet through Delta’s in-flight WiFi service powered by GoGo.

Of course, my efforts were in vain, and I would need to pay for access to the internet. But I’ve never paid for in-flight entertainment and I wasn’t about to start for in-flight internet.

But on the Delta/GoGo internet access pricing page, I saw a dark blue window with the words “Delta Studio. Enjoy Hours of Free Entertainment. No Paid WiFi Required” and there was a button that said “Watch For Free.”

I was obviously going to tap that button.

What I discovered was Delta has its own Netflix-style entertainment app that can run on your mobile device. The movies and TV shows stream using in-flight WiFi, and it’s just as fast and reliable as streaming something at home.

Delta Studio screenshot

Business Insider/Antonio Villas-Boas

When I clicked the “Watch For Free” button, I was taken to a surprisingly decent movie selection with new and highly rated titles, like “Birdman.”

I found one of my all-time favourite shows, “Top Gear,” in the TV section. Tapping “Watch” took me to a screen with a link directing me to the App Store to get either the Delta or GoGo video player app to play the free video. At first, I thought this was a GoGo/Delta trap to force me to pay for internet to download the app.

I tapped on the GoGo video player app icon, which let me download and install the free app from the App Store without paying for internet. It was like I was downloading the app on my home WiFi.

Delta studio app download

Business Insider/Antonio Villas-Boas

The next thing I knew I was was watching “Top Gear.” There was no need to backtrack to the “Top Gear” page to re-tap the Watch button. The GoGo video player automatically picked up where I left off.

The Netflix-style airline service was surprisingly smooth and simple, and I never had to wait for the video to load or buffer. Having always watched in-flight movies and TV on the terrible, washed out, and fuzzy seat-back screens, it was much better watching something on the Retina display on my iPad Mini.

The audio through an iPad was a lot better, too, as I’ve been on countless flights where the audio jack only worked if I plugged in my headphones in a certain position, or I’d hear a constant hissing sound throughout a movie. I was also able to watch an entire movie free from announcement interruptions.

The only problem I faced was that I had to look down at my iPad on the seat tray, which, after a couple hours, isn’t as comfortable as watching the seat-back screens at eye level. Suddenly, those iPad seat-back mounts I saw in SkyMall catalogues seem mighty tempting.

Aeroplane screenWikipedia/MattesA terrible seat-back screen I’m used to seeing in aeroplanes.

It was a treat to watch in-flight entertainment on my iPad, especially since I wasn’t expecting to watch anything at all, as the aeroplane I was flying in had no seat-back screens. It’s the first time I’ve flown with Delta since its offered a free BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) in-flight video streaming service since March of this year, and I stumbled into its new service completely by mistake.

I hadn’t flown with other airlines since they launched their similar services throughout 2014, either, like United, American, and US Airways. Southwest Airlines has also been offering live Dish TV streaming to personal devices since 2013.

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