United To Add Channel 9 to Continental Fleet. Rejoice!

Since the official announcement that United Airlines and Continental Airlines would be merging one question seemed to rise to the top consistently amongst aviation geeks … I mean aviation enthusiasts … would United Airlines retain Channel 9 within its in-flight entertainment , integrating it into the Continental Airlines fleet.


For those of you unfamiliar with Channel 9, it is a unique feature among United Airlines’ in-flight entertainment audio options.   Channel 9 allows passengers to hear the cockpit transitions from the pilot to the tower, ground crew and air traffic control, from gate  to gate.


The Channel 9 option is a fantastic feature and is enjoyed by not only aviation geek  … sorry, aviation enthusiasts … but by many other passengers as well. There is no other airline in-flight entertainment experience that compares, especially because the entertainment starts on the ground. Board the plane, sit in your seat, pop on your headsets and start listening.


Passengers hear all sorts of chatter from the cockpit, it also builds a great sense of transparency for travelers. When a flight is delayed you’ll hear why usually long before the delay is announced over the loud speaker.


The top five favourite things heard over Channel 9 are:


– My flight’s pilot enquiring as to who parked the ‘kraut whale‘ behind us, when a Lufthansa 747 was left sitting behind our aircraft at San Francisco International Airport as the flight was pushing from the gate


– The world famous ‘Boston John‘ wishing my flight’s pilots a safe trip and one of the pilots responded with “Thank you and your Patriots are going down tonight,” while at Boston Logan International Airport.


– A taxing Northwest Airlines pilot speaking with the tower, just after the Delta Air Lines merger,  remarking that he’d “hold short Dixie, I just can’t make myself say Delta,” at San Francisco International Airport



– One of my pilots singing the theme to Rawhide as our flight rolled down the runway, from the time the brakes were released until shortly after wheels up, departing Denver International Airport


– Both pilots on my flight exchanging random quote from the movie Airplane! As our flight sat on the ramp waiting for a gate to open up at Orlando International Airport.



The addition of Channel 9 to the Continental Airlines aircraft was announced at the same time United Airlines related it would invest US$550,000,000 in upgrading on board cabin features across its entire fleet, including adding Economy Plus to Continental Airlines aircraft, lay flat seats being installed on United P.S.  aircraft, doubling overhead bin space on 150 aircraft, adding lay flat seats  to additional 62 long haul planes, installing wireless streaming video to the Boeing 747-400 fleet and adding broadband to 200 aircraft.


If you haven’t yet listened to Channel 9 while flying United Airlines … you’re missing out!


Happy Flying!






  1. I love channel 9, and it is nice to hear solid confirmation that it will be staying around. In your last real paragraph you said they are investing $550,000, when it is $550,000,000. Any idea how they plan to double the overhead space on the 320 family fleet?

  2. I so agree. I’ll often pick United over another carrier just for Channel 9. Fascinating.

  3. Love Ch. 9 as well…. I feel however that only a handful of crews are turning it on these days… It is a shame… United should make it a rule that it be ON always – In case of Emergency, sure, agreed… but otherwise, why have it if the crews are going to be turning it off?
    The “security” excuse does not “fly” with me. There are many and more powerful tools/gadgets that would give much more “information” to people that would want to use Ch. 9 with an evil purpose.
    Just Saying… Either you do it or you don’t… otherwise you create a differentiation of service across you flights and it deteriorates the overall product..

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