JetBlue, Virgin American now streaming college lectures in-flight


JetBlue is now offering educational lectures as part of its rotating inflight entertainment package. (JetBlue)

Many of us use the hours during a flight to zone out with a movie or celebrity mag– but a couple of airlines are hoping you may actually want to learn something during the trip.

JetBlue and Virgin America are now offering complimentary streams of university-level courses and educational audio programs, reports Time.

Last December, JetBlue rolled out recorded lectures from some of the most prestigious universities in the country. Take in a marketing class from University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business or dig deeper into an archeology lesson offered by Brown University. Passengers can also watch an intro course to guitar and rhythm from the Berkeley School of Music. The lectures are available via Coursera, a digital platform for massive open online courses—or MOOCs.

If your brain can’t process numbers and beats but you’re still open to learning something new, JetBlue also offers video classes, via Rouxbe, on cooking basics like “How to brine meats” and “How to read labels on chocolate.”

Earlier this month, Virgin America began their educational audio and video lectures from the “Great Courses” series which features prestigious seminars from well-known professors like Neil deGrasse Tyson and David Christian. From history to astronomy, physics and nutrition, the series spans several disciplines.

JetBlue and Virgin America both say they will rotate their education library offerings every few weeks or bimonthly.

Will university lectures replace reruns of Seinfeld or Top 40 playlists as the go-to guest choice for in-flight entertainment?

“People seem to like the serendipity” of unexpected audio and videos on long flights, Gary Leff, a business traveler who often works while in the skies, told Time. He says he would welcome a new type of airtime distraction and other travelers may find the offerings a “pleasant surprise.”

Leff predicts other airlines may soon follow suit with more education-geared inflight entertainment offerings.

For Coursera and Rouxbe, the partnership offers a great marketing opportunity for a captive audience. And unlike a traditional college lecture hall, these passengers turned students won’t be able to just walk out during class.

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