By Cailey Rizzo
January 31, 2019
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On your next United flight, you’ll be able to stay entertained for free.

On Wednesday, the airline announced that it would lift charges for in-flight access to DIRECTV stations. On flights shorter than two hours, access to live TV used to cost $5.99. On flights longer than two hours, it was $7.99.

The free live TV streaming service is effective immediately on more than 200 Boeing 737 planes equipped with seatback entertainment.

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In addition to the free TV, United passengers will also be able to access an expanded selection of entertainment available on personal devices. According to the airline, there are now more than 280 free movies and TV shows available to stream to phones, tablets and laptops.

"This year, we will be introducing a series of innovations and improvements designed to help build a great experience for all our customers," United's Chief Customer Officer Toby Enqvist, said in a statement. "Offering free entertainment, whether it's on seat back TV or on personal devices, is one example of how we are placing our customers at the heart of what we do and helping them to relax and enjoy their flights."

Although United is announcing the decision as grand news, it is not the first airline to offer free seatback entertainment. JetBlue already offers the same service — free DIRECTV streaming — for free throughout its fleet.

In October 2018, United CEO Oscar Munoz spoke about how the airline was trying to “de-stress” the travel experience. Part of Munoz’s plan was to roll out a new customer service initiative every week.

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