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Europe’s largest low-cost airline to start streaming movies to passenger devices for free

If you’ve ever scooted about Europe on a low-cost airline, the chances are it was Ryanair.

The Dublin-based carrier launched 30 years ago and has gone on to become Europe’s largest airline, carrying millions of passengers every year between 28 countries.

As with any budget flier, the service is understandably basic. Anything outside of simply sitting in your seat seems to incur an extra charge, so if you’re not careful, your fare can soon add up.

However, Ryanair, which operates around 1600 flights daily, said Tuesday it’s considering offering some free stuff for fliers in the form of streamed entertainment and Wi-Fi access.

Related: Faster in-flight Wi-Fi could herald end of seat-back entertainment

In the coming months, it plans to start testing an in-flight entertainment service whereby TV shows and movies will be streamed to passenger-owned devices. In addition, passengers will also have the chance to surf the Web via an on-board Wi-Fi service.

If the trial run proves popular, the service could be rolled out to its entire fleet of around 300 Boeing aircraft.

While the TV and movie element is likely to be supported by ads and made free to all passengers, the Wi-Fi service may incur a charge, though a final decision is yet to be made.

Related: Traveler hit with $1200 bill for in-flight Wi-Fi access

Ryanair planes don’t have seat-back screens, so passengers without much content on their smartphone or tablet would likely welcome the chance to catch a quick movie or surf the Web

The move to improve its in-flight offerings is part of an effort to attract business travelers and families who up to now have stayed away from the ‘no frills’ airline.

Negative headlines

Ryanair has in recent years received its fair share of negative headlines, many of them related to the extra charges it lays on its passengers, a practice that has a habit of quickly turning a cheap ticket into a pricey flight hardly worthy of the ‘budget’ banner.

The airline’s CEO, Michael O’Leary, promised last year to stop “unnecessarily pissing people off,” before making changes that have included cutting various penalty charges and improving the usability of its website.

[Source: Independent, Reuters]