When I wrote about changes already announced and those still pending with the United-Continental merger last week, I meant to mention ‘Channel 9’ and simply forgot.
United has long offered one of my favorite onboard features, at the pilot’s discretion, the ability for passengers to listen to air traffic control (on channel 9 of inflight audio). Pilots don’t always turn it on, some explicitly don’t like it and will not, but I’ll often ask a flight attendant whether channel 9 will be on for the flight and if they’ve learned during preflight briefing that it will not be I will politely request that they ask the pilot to reconsider, frequently they will when a passenger is requesting it.
Look, I don’t care about the tulip. I suppose I do care about the Blue Carpet replacing the Red Carpet since it appears to support all elites boarding together (mayhem) even though they appear to still be calling top tier elites first. But channel 9 is a real differentiator, something that makes United United. Like Rhapsody in Blue which thank goodness they are keeping.
It appears that they are indeed keeping channel 9 at least according to United’s twitter feed.
Now, that doesn’t mean that they will roll it out to Continental’s aircraft. And it doesn’t mean that it will remain in the future to the extent that the overall inflight entertainment product should change. And Continental pilots may well be less inclined to turn it on, since they aren’t used to it, it isn’t part of the Continental culture. So I suspect that it may become less available than in the past, especially as the fleets integrate and the pilots operate across the entire fleet — you’ll need a legacy United aircraft and perhaps a legacy United pilot as well.
I do hope it doesn’t die a slow death, at least it appears it will not die a fast one. It’s a real customer-pleaser, and product differentiator, in a world where those are few and far between.
(HT: Infinite1K on Milepoint)