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You can now watch the Super Bowl for free on some United Airlines flights

Key Points
  • United Airlines says it will no longer charge passengers to watch DirecTV as part of a move to enhance their flying experience.
  • The change will be seen on 211 United 737's that have DirecTV service.
  • Previously, passengers had to pay either $5.99 or $7.99 to watch live TV, depending on the length of the flight.
A United Airlines Boeing 737 passenger jet takes off at San Antonio International Airport in Texas.
Robert Alexander | Archive Photos | Getty Images

Football fans stuck on a plane during the Super Bowl will be in luck on some United Airlines flights.

As part of a move to enhance the flying experience, the carrier is no longer charging passengers who want to watch DirecTV. That change takes place immediately, which will be welcome news for those in the air during the Super Bowl, which kicks off Sunday night.

"This year, we will be introducing a series of innovations and improvements designed to help build a great experience for all our customers," chief customer office Toby Enqvist said in a statement.

The change will be seen on 211 United 737s that have DirecTV service. Previously, passengers had to pay either $5.99 or $7.99 to watch live TV, depending on the length of the flight.

Some of United's competitors already offer free entertainment options on board. For example, JetBlue Airways has free DirecTV throughout its fleet and American Airlines passengers can stream live television from their personal devices on board many domestic and international flights

Making DirecTV free is part of United's plan to improve its customer service image.

Last year, the airline was blasted after a flight attendant had a customer put a dog in an overhead bin for a flight. The dog died in flight, prompting days of bad press for United. And in 2017, United found itself apologizing, and ultimately paying a settlement, for dragging a passenger off of a plane that was oversold. The video of security officers pulling the passenger out of his seat and dragging him down the aisle created an uproar on social media.

While apologizing for the incident, CEO Oscar Munoz called the treatment of the passenger a shame, adding: "We will work to make it right."

Since then, Munoz and his team have focused on improving the airline's customer service. United has dramatically reduced the number of passengers it bumps from flights, and its on-time arrival performance improved in 2018.

CNBC's Leslie Josephs contributed to this article. 

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