15 Movies You Will Never See on Airplanes

Earlier this year, there was a story that got a lot of buzz about a mother who was upset with United Airlines because she felt the movie showing on the overhead unit was objectionable to her child. It created a bit of a firestorm of controversy on the net as others reported this story.

With today’s high capacity laptops, tablets, and phones, you are pretty free to view whatever you like but no controversy here, these are some movies you will never see offered on a plane. To keep the list down, X-rated movies are excluded for obvious reasons. Please feel free to add your own to the list.

Snakes on a Plane

Airplane (1980) – Arguably one of the funniest movies ever and the lines are so well known, they are required for entrance in some frequent flier circles. But no airline will ever show a movie where both the pilot and co-pilot become ill from eating the fish. Oh, and they don’t want you to know about Otto either. Seriously, Shirley.

Airplane II (1982) – Not as funny as the original but the sequel is still worthy of non-airplane viewing.

Airport (1970) – The all-star cast is great but blizzards and suicide bombers, oh my! Led to four other disaster movie sequels. Great movies for avgeeks but none of these will ever be shown on a plane.

Alive (1993) – Not one of my favorites and obviously not a carrier favorite either. If you are into planes crashing, passengers dying, and survivors eating others, enjoy this film from the privacy of your own seat.

Cast Away (2000) – It’s a shame to hide Tom Hanks from movie fans but the airlines have no interest in offering a movie about the sole survivor of a plane crash.

Delta Force (1986) – Action fans love this Chuck Norris thriller but since the story is about a plane hijacking, forget about ever seeing it on a plane.

Die Hard 2 (1990) – Another great action flick starring Bruce Willis, this time dealing with terrorists who take over stormy Dulles Airport (IAD) and threaten to blow up the planes.

Executive Decision (1996) – Interesting action drama starring Kurt Russell where he leads a group trying to sneak aboard a hijacked plane at 36,000 feet. Midair, from another plane. Too touchy for the airlines.

Flight (2012) – Personally a huge Denzel Washington fan and seriously, he flies a commercial airliner upside down? Sadly after that, it is all downhill for viewers from the carrier point of view.

Flightplan (2005) – Jodi Foster stars in this gripping drama where her daughter who is flying with her somehow disappears at 30,000 feet. Even more bizarre, no one else seems to know the child even exists. Not only every mother’s nightmare but panic in the skies if you look at this from the airliner side.

Non-stop (2014) – Liam Neeson is great as a federal air marshal accused inflight of faking a hijacking to make money but when the real bad guys threaten to blow up the plane, all the airline carriers will switch off their monitors.

Passenger 57 (1992) – One of Wesley Snipe’s best as head of airline security trying to stop a terrorist plane hijacking. Great airplane action sequences but one of those things that carriers just don’t want to publicize.

Red Eye (2005) – Directed by Wes Craven so you know it will be scary, a woman is kidnapped by a stranger. Why would the airlines care? Because the kidnapping happened onboard during a flight.

Snakes on a Plane (2006) – Duh, the title says it all.

Twilight Zone (1983) – The movie is fine until they get to the last segment where John Lithgow sees a monster on the wing. Not what the carriers want their passengers to be worried about.

Note: All links to the films are from the Internet Movie Database.

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  1. I was on Virgin Atlantic’s inaugural 787-9 flight and guess which movie was in its IFE? Titanic! I know it’s not air travel but it is about a new ship on its inaugural trip.

  2. I wish they had not played Midnight Express on a lufthansa flight I took to a job assignment in Ankara some years ago.

  3. Congrats on being on that flight, Joey. Yes, I’m surprised VA showed Titanic on an inaugural trip. I think we’d agree that if we were on one of the inaugural cruises on a new ship and they were showing a movie on their large outside screen, they sure wouldn’t be showing Titanic (I hope!). It was a popular movie (one of my favs) but it seems doubtful they would want their passengers thinking about sinking while watching the movie.

  4. While not a banned film. A few years back on a Lufthansa flight, I was surprised to see “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” as inflight entertainment.

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