Dubai's biggest budget airline, flydubai, is preparing to start charging passengers to watch films onboard.
The airline brought no-frills travel to the emirate with passengers paying more or less depending on their use of services such as baggage check and meals.
With new aircraft delivered with in-flight entertainment systems, flydubai is now including entertainment in its itemised pricing system, first widely used by Air Canada and now common throughout the US.
"In line with flydubai's culture of only charging travellers for the services they use, the new in-flight entertainment will be available as an optional extra in the way that baggage and meals are," the airline said. "Passengers travelling on these new flydubai aircraft will have the ability to choose what they want to watch depending on their preference and how much they want to spend," the airline said, without elaborating.
Watching a film on the new aircraft will cost about Dh25 (US$6.80), while TV programmes on the in-flight system will cost between Dh5 and Dh10, depending on their length.
Previously, flydubai ended the widespread Middle East practice of airlines allowing free luggage check-in. Recently, flydubai expanded its luggage policy, slightly reducing the carry-on weight allowance and introducing a scale of charges for checked baggage.
The new a la carte entertainment options is made possible by the delivery of four new Boeing 737-800 aircraft with Lumexis in-flight entertainment systems.
The deliveries have boosted the flydubai fleet by 45 per cent to 13 aircraft over the past few weeks, the airline said. After launching in June last year, flydubai now flies to 28 destinations.
The airline has played a key role in opening routes between the UAE and regional cities that were deemed too small to be served by large carriers such as Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways.
"We show no sign of slowing down, with ambitious growth plans that see us expanding still over the coming months," said Ghaith al Ghaith, the chief executive of flydubai.
The recent aircraft deliveries, in addition to boosting capacity, will help the airline differentiate itself from its budget airline rivals with new technologies.