Among the things I like best about JetBlue and Virgin America are their in-flight media offerings. But as I fly around I increasingly see travelers listening to their own iPods or MP3 players and watching films on portable players or laptops.
I guess the folks at Hudson News have noticed as well. The ubiquitous-in-airports Hudson chain in September started selling (renting, really) Flexplay self-destructing movie DVDs for $6 at most of its 350 newsstand locations.
Why self-destructing? The big advantage of this system is that you don't have to remember to return anything. Once you open your DVD's sealed pouch, a chemical process kicks in, which will allow you to watch the film as many times as you want for at least two days. After that, the quality degrades. Once the DVD is kicked, you recycle.
Each Hudson store will offer about two dozen DVD titles, refreshed with new films every week or two, according to Laura Samuels, a Hudson spokeswoman. Currently, Flexplay has licensing deals with Warner Home Video, Paramount Home Entertainment, and DreamWorks.
You can also order online from Flexplay and have discs mailed to you for $4.99, which includes shipping. Flexplay discs are also available at Staples.
The new Hudson/Flexplay system is convenient and "Mission Impossible'' cool, but it's not the only option for airport DVD rentals.
Travelers could also try the InMotion system, which has been around a few years. Currently InMotion has a couple dozen airport locations. DVD rentals are $5 for five days and you can either return at a store (i.e., pick up at your departing airport and drop off at the other end) or you can mail your rental back in a padded envelope (for $1 they will sell you a mailer).
At InMotion, you can also rent a portable DVD player, starting at $15 a day, which includes one DVD rental, headphones, batteries, and all the equipment you'll need. You can either return at an airport location or ship back for a fee.
Also something to keep an eye on: Redbox, which rents DVDs for $1 a day and has popped up at area grocery stores, has a location at the airport in Nashville. Chris Goodrich, a Redbox spokesman, said the company wouldn't comment on whether it was planning to expand to other airports.