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$15 to check a bag, but free to charge an iPod

United Airlines becomes the first domestic carrier to implement a partnership with Apple that brings iPod and iPhone connectivity to select planes' in-flight entertainment systems.

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy
New Line Cinema

United Airlines has been subject to some pretty bad press recently for being one of several airlines to slap a $15 fee on checked bags, but here's a perk: the commerical carrier announced on Monday that it's starting to install iPod and iPhone connectivity features in its airplanes.

More specifically, owners of Apple's media devices can hook them up to the planes' in-flight entertainment systems; they can navigate through music and video on the seat back televisions while charging the devices in the process. The connectivity technology has been manufactured by Panasonic Avionics.

United is the first U.S. carrier to provide this service, it said in a statement. Late in 2006, iPod manufacturer Apple announced that it had struck a deal with the airline--as well as fellow domestic carriers Continental and Delta, as well as overseas carriers Air France, Emirates, and KLM--to configure in-flight iPod connectivity.

For United, the iPod cables won't be everywhere immediately. For the most part, they'll be installed on planes that make transatlantic flights, and in some cases will be restricted to those with first- and business-class seats. The first "iPod flight," United 936, will take off at 5:40 PM EDT on Monday in Washington, D.C., and fly to Zurich, Switzerland.

So, D.C.-to-Zurich pond hoppers: you can can now watch Snakes on a Plane on a plane (on an iPod, without draining your battery).