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United Channel 9, What´s The Deal?  
User currently offlineKeesje From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (13 years 4 months 21 hours ago) and read 2726 times:

I hear many people are enthousiastic about this channel 9. I understand you can hear ATC live. Very nice option IMO.  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

I can imagine Pilots, ATC and FAA were not too happy when some UA folks proposed this entertainment years ago...  Yeah sure

Bad guys listening (flight saffety), passengers hearing things that are not sounding professional between ATC & crew  Wink/being sarcastic etc.

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I wonder how UA got it approved by e.g. pilots. I know no other airline that has this product.

Is it on widebody´s only ? Do passengers appreciate it ? Anyone know the backgrounds of this unique UA service ?

35 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
User currently offlineUAL Bagsmasher From United States of America, joined Sep 1999, 2151 posts, RR: 9
Reply 1, posted (13 years 4 months 21 hours ago) and read 2578 times:

CH9 is made available solely at the Captain's discretion. If he or she is not comfortable with it, the "OBS AUDIO ENT." switch remains off.

User currently offlineConcorde1518 From United States of America, joined May 2001, 746 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (13 years 4 months 21 hours ago) and read 2546 times:

This is kind of a stupid question, but, where in the flight deck is that switch, and what kind of switch is it, like a toggle like the pass signs?


User currently offlineFrequentflier From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 422 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (13 years 4 months 21 hours ago) and read 2534 times:

I've seen channel 9 on UAL 757s, 727s, 767s, and A320s.

Personally, I love it. It's so much fun to listen to atc instructions to "turn to heading 360," and to then turn, or to be cleared for takeoff or landing.

As far as I can tell, not many people listen to the channel for a long period of time, but, rather for a minute or so.

Too bad that jetBlue doesn't have this service! It has everything else  Smile

User currently offlineUALfa@jfk From United States of America, joined May 2000, 311 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (13 years 4 months 21 hours ago) and read 2525 times:

It's completely the pilot's option to turn Channel 9 on for passengers to hear. They are not at all obligated to offer it on any of their flights.

Many pilots love to offer it all the time. Some only some of the time. And still, some never like to offer it. It's up to the individual pilot. One pilot told me he only offers it when it seems to be mostly "nice passengers" aboard. If the plane is filled with a bunch of spoiled, demanding assholes, he said he deliberately makes Channel 9 unavailable. --All of this is completely his choice.

Channel 9 is available on all widebody and narrowbody UA aircraft (as long is the general passenger audio system is working, which it usuallly is).

As an FA, I can attest that a lot of pax absolutely LOVE Channel 9. Especially kids and senior citizens. Everyone seems to really get a kick out of it, especially during taxi at very busy airports such as ORD, LAX, LGA, ATL, SFO, or MIA.

Everytime I make the announcement, "Ladies and Gentlemen, if interested, you may listen in on cockpit-to- tower control communications on Channel 9 of your audio system...Please feel free to use your complimentary United headset found in the seat pocket in front of you," it's funny to see everyone reaching for their headsets at the same time.

Also, one BIG benefit I see is that in the event of some ATC delay, pax can hear FOR THEMSELVES, the actual air traffic controllers informing the cockpit of the delay. --That way, pax (being usually so skeptical) know that the the ground "delay" isn't a lie made up by the pilots.

User currently offlineNW-ELITE From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (13 years 4 months 21 hours ago) and read 2517 times:

It is on every aircraft except the 73S.

User currently offlineUnited_Fan From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 7604 posts, RR: 7
Reply 6, posted (13 years 4 months 20 hours ago) and read 2475 times:

Nice to hear from you again-UALfa@jfk !
I just got back Monday from MIA on UA and the A320 had it on the whole way. The 763 from IAD to MIA didn't-and I didn't want to bother the f/a 's because they looked busy and the plane was FULL!  Smile It's good to see full planes nowdays,too.
I've even heard the captain announce ch #9's availability a few times.Sometimes a f/a will announce it but not always-wonder why ? Also to any UA f/a's out there-why is there inconsistencies on announcements like Mileage + miles and joining and M+ ? I don't always hear this mentioned. Oh well-
Also,UA doesn't have any 732's anyore,NW-ELITE - all went away on Nov 1 st . So unless you fly UA Express there's a chance you might get ch 9- though I think 747's it's ch 14.

'Empathy was yesterday...Today, you're wasting my Mother-F'ing time' - Heat.
User currently offlineUALfa@jfk From United States of America, joined May 2000, 311 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (13 years 4 months 18 hours ago) and read 2427 times:

Hi United Fan. Rest assured I'm here VERRY frequently. Usually lurking, without posting.

You're right about inconsistent announcements from FAs. but actually, we have a lot flexibility regarding what what to announce. It kinda depends on the the type of flight, passenger mix (number of Mileage Plus members versus a bunch of vacationers), passenger load, and flight time.

Regarding Channel 9, I sometimes simply forget to announce that it's on. But just the other day, on my ORD-MSP leg, the Captain explicitedly asked me to NOT announce anything about Channel 9 because he intended to turn it off and on periodically. (Sometimes the cockpit requests that we don't mention it at all, even if they do decide to turn it on.)

Regarding other announcements (such as ff mileage, etc), a lot of pax complain that we FAs simply "talk too much" over the PA. Therefore, I try to be as conscience as possible in not making too many announcements.

If you're ever on one of my flights, this is the sequence of what you'll likely hear after we take off and are airborne:

1) A hearty welcome for our Mileage Plus freq. fliers, icluding the number of miles they'll earn for this flight. (as well as a welcome to everyone else).

2) The type of service to expect (beverages & cocktail snacks, continental breakfast, a "lite" snack, or hot dinner)...."A complete guide to the beverages we offer should be located on page 79 of this month's issue of United's award-wining Hemispheres inflight magazine..."

3) Type of inflight entertainment..."On your flight today, we'll be happy to present to you NBC News, Television Sitcoms, documentaries, and other popular broadcasting" (or whatever movie we're to show). "...Please locate your complimentary United headset in the seatpocket in front of you...Audio for the inflight entertainment can be found on Channel 1."

4) A reminder about the seat belt sign, lavatory locations, no-smoking policy.

5) A reminder about exercising caution when retrieving articles in the overhead bins.

6) A final announcement..."Ladies & gentlemen, if there's anything we can do to make your travel experience more enjoyable, please do not hesitate to call on any one of us.

7) "Now just sit back, relax and enjoy your 2 hour, 42 minute flight to Chicago O'hare. Welcome aboard."

(I often wonder if I'm too wordy with my announcements).

User currently offlineTravelin man From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 3579 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (13 years 4 months 18 hours ago) and read 2400 times:

As a Premier Exec, that litany of announcements is very familiar to me! (Do you ever do LAX-DEN?)  Smile

User currently offlineUnited_Fan From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 7604 posts, RR: 7
Reply 9, posted (13 years 4 months 18 hours ago) and read 2384 times:

Thanks,UALfa-I was just wondering what protocal was towards announcements.

'Empathy was yesterday...Today, you're wasting my Mother-F'ing time' - Heat.
User currently offlineTonyBurr From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 1064 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (13 years 4 months 17 hours ago) and read 2343 times:

I really like channel 9. It allows me to hear how long the taxing, landing, etc may be. It keeps me in touch with what is going on. UALFA@JFK - ur's sounds like a nice announcement. I have enver found a FA announcements too much. I generally enjoy them. Most FA are great people and it comes across!

(From a 1 K)

User currently offlineMls515 From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 3078 posts, RR: 8
Reply 11, posted (13 years 4 months 16 hours ago) and read 2322 times:

I liked listening to it when it was available but I never wanted to bother the FAs to turn it on if it wasn't already on.

I've heard it on 737 and 763 recently but also on 727 and 757 long ago.

User currently offlineContinental From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 5551 posts, RR: 17
Reply 12, posted (13 years 4 months 16 hours ago) and read 2303 times:

I remember back in 98' on a UA 737 going from MSP-ORD, we were delayed due to bad weather, and the pilot told us to tune to channel 9 because we could listen to what's going on. Sure enough, there was live ATC and everything, it was amazing!


User currently offlineAirworthy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (13 years 4 months 15 hours ago) and read 2278 times:

Hey, thanks for the info, UALfa@JFK.

Just as a little note, I did ask for the Capt to turn on Ch 9 from SFO-IAD on a 762, and he obliged.

User currently offlineSllevin From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 3376 posts, RR: 5
Reply 14, posted (13 years 4 months 14 hours ago) and read 2277 times:

As a pilot myself, I feel about 300% more comfortable when I can listen to Channel 9; I like knowing what's going on.

Sadly, no mater how hard I try, UA's routing never seems to work for me...  Sad


User currently offlineAfay1 From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 1293 posts, RR: 2
Reply 15, posted (13 years 4 months 14 hours ago) and read 2264 times:

Like "live" television and radio, the Channel 9 function has a 3 second delay, so pilots can shut it off if the going is going to get rough. I personally love it and can't tear myself away.

User currently offlineRogueTrader From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (13 years 4 months 14 hours ago) and read 2263 times:

I rarely get to fly UA, but I think ch. 9 is great. The last time I flew them to DEN, other aircraft were describing braking as poor to non-existent in the snow. Also, there were a few mistakes like ATC calling United 1286 instead of 1268, that were immediately clarified. So, I can see that maybe some things might be heard would disturb some passengers.

Is this why some of the pilots described above might turn off Ch. 9? And why would some turn it on and off throughout the flight? - that sounds just annoying. Have there ever been problems on board with customers going into panic about what they heard?



User currently offlineThe777Man From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 6789 posts, RR: 55
Reply 17, posted (13 years 4 months 14 hours ago) and read 2267 times:

UALfa@JFK, I and I think most passengers appriciate very detailed announcements at the beginning of a flight. You seem to be very attentative and hope to fly with you sometime. The777Man, IADRR

Need a Boeing 777 Firing Order....Further to fly....LX and LH 777s
User currently offlineDesertJets From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 7856 posts, RR: 14
Reply 18, posted (13 years 4 months 13 hours ago) and read 2254 times:

I would like to know when UA started Ch.9.

I remember flying UA back in 1991 and they had it then
And I know my brother flew UA in 1988 (I think, could be 87 or 89) and they had it then too.

It isn't like it is a new feature. It is interesting to listen too. And it is helpful to figure out where you are too.

Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
User currently offlineThirtyEcho From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 1704 posts, RR: 1
Reply 19, posted (13 years 4 months 12 hours ago) and read 2237 times:

I recall that American had a similar feature quite a while ago but then stopped it for some reason. Personally, I love 9 and listen to it for the whole flight. Being instrument rated, I have had occasions where I was asked by my seatmates to explain something; people seem the most stumped by a flight being called a "heavy." I once heard a know-it-all type explain to his wife that the pilot had to say that until enough fuel was burned off to make the plane lighter.  Nuts

User currently offlineKeesje From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (13 years 4 months 6 hours ago) and read 2189 times:

Thank you all for your interesting views & info. Reading your reply's I think it is amazing other airlines don't offer this ATC channel.

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User currently offlineN79969 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (13 years 4 months 6 hours ago) and read 2174 times:

I think Channel 9 distinguishes UA. The one time I was really lost while listening was during LAX-HNL on a 742. I have my pilot's license but I know nothing about extended overwater navigation. The crew kept in contact with SFO center to confirm their location enroute. It was very interesting to hear but I wish knew more.

I am also surprised that other airlines do not offer this feature. It is very entertaining but it is also harmless. There is more danger from people with handheld receivers on the ground.

User currently offlineUALPHLCS From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (13 years 4 months 5 hours ago) and read 2167 times:

I have been flying UA since I was a kid. My father worked for UA before me. Channel 9 has been on UA since the 70's, that's when I first heard it, maybe since the introduction of the audio systems to the cabin. All UA planes except those without audio have the channel. And as has been stated the pilot can turnit on or off at their disgression. I always ask as I board if the Captain will have it on.

I listen to channel 9 almost exclusivly. It does get a bit boring in the middle of the flight just listening to Center. on the ground or just before landing it is a real treat. I have figured out where MDT ends and PHL begins by listening for the change of radio frequency. (BTW for those of you flying to PHL from points west, its about Pottstown)

User currently offlineTravelin man From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 3579 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (13 years 4 months 4 hours ago) and read 2130 times:

Sometimes you hear some interesting stuff on channel 9! Last summer I was on a United flight into Denver. As we were on Approach to DEN, we heard the pilot of the plane behind us say they had been struck by lightning! The controller asked if everything was OK, and the pilot said yeah, no need for emergency equipment or anything.

Also last summer (again, going to Denver), I was listening to channel 9 during take-off, when the left engine on our 777 blew and we had to abort take-off. ALL of the emergency equipment came out and the pilot was asking the tower if any smoke or flame was coming out from anywhere. The tower also had to instruct other planes waiting for our runway that they would have to use Runway 25L for take-off. The pilot never turned off Channel 9, even in an emergency! (They had to close Runway 25R at LAX while the emergency crews checked us out and they towed us back to a gate).

If all else is equal (price, etc.) I will choose United just for Channel 9!

User currently offlineKonrad From United States of America, joined Mar 2002, 552 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (13 years 4 months 4 hours ago) and read 2130 times:

Channel 9 on UA is a great feature, I used to listen to it on their 737s fligths. Greatest fun was listening to taxiing instructions at a busy airport, say ORD or the approach into ORD.
Unfortunately right now only United Express CRJs are flying into my city, do they have the audio entertainment at all ?
Anyway, thanks for Channel 9, United !

I recently flew USAir into Gatwick on one of their old 767s. I was amazed to find an ATC channel on my audio. It must have been switched on by mistake since it was working only on one headset (the flight was empty and I had two seats for myself).
It was switched on and working during the whole flight and it was fun to know what other flights were heading east across the pond at the same time. Unfortunately the FAs collected the headsets before the landing so I couldn't get an idea of the british ATC.

25 Eugdog : I love Channel 9 - in fact that this why I go on UAL. I am glad to here from the UAL flight attendants that this service is popular. This guarantees t
26 Flashmeister : In early march I flew SAT-DEN-PDX and back on United, and on all 4 segments, Channel 9 was on, and it was great -- 3 out of the 4 times, the captain m
27 PW100 : This Channel 9 thing sounds really cool!! I've never experienced it myself. Only flown KL and MP, neither have it. Does AC have it, since Í'll be off
28 N79969 : PW 100, I do not think they will let you have your scanner on during flight. Be careful about that one.
29 Doug_Or : N79969: the following page has some information about international and overwater flight ops. http://www.tech.purdue.edu/at/courses/at300/course%20mat
30 N79969 : Thanks for the link.
31 Cch362 : Channel 9 is terrific. I remember hearing two interesting moments. We were taxiing in Newark during a long delay, and a Continental pilot threatened t
32 Jayhup : I love it! It's a great way to track your progress across the country..... JH
33 USAFHummer : I remember listening to channel 9 back in 1993 on a DC-10 PHL-SFO, but then again sadly I didnt fly UA again until 2000 when I flew PHL-DEN-COS (733,
34 Bicoastal : I, too, am a Channel 9 fan. It actually helps me relax and I often fall asleep while listening. It amazes me how some pilots are manic about turbulenc
35 ABQ757 : I love channel 9 on UA. I have only flown with UA once ABQ-DEN-LAX and back. I had channel 9 on 3 of the 4 flights. On the DEN-LAX leg the Captain had
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