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Channel 9: How United Airlines Allowed Passengers To Listen To Live ATC Communications

When you're on board an aircraft, the only time you'll ever hear the pilots during the entire flight is when they use the public address system to make announcements and information about the flight or destination. As a frequent flyer, hearing the same generic statements can become quite dull. ( More...

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Scott Campbell 42
About 10 years ago a United 757 captain (during his PA) said something like " Your flying on a Boeing 757 - (and if your interested), after we reach our cruising altitude, meet me on channel 9 - for the specs, design and history of the 757" as a Private and Aviation geek - I tuned in and waited. What I heard was an amazing pilot, give a beautiful talk about his beloved aircraft, and one of mine to this day. channel 9 was never this good :) even though I listened always ..
Michael Osmers 28
Wow Scott, that might have been me! I used to do that on trans cons to hopefully pass back some more aviation geeky information about the flight to people who might be more interested beyond the typical cruising altitude, timeliness stuff. That little trick wasn’t “in the book” but was a variation of the technique. I never heard of anyone else who did it but between 10,000 of us I’m sure I couldn’t have been the only one who got the idea. Channel 9 was wired through the observer’s audio panel. For my one way discussion I would turn down Comm 1 on that panel which is where ATC normally is and turn up the interphone which during flight was not normally used and talk on the interphone. I’d pick a time I knew would likely have very little going on and of course I’d continue to monitor Comm 1 while the F/O flew the plane but at normal cruise the five minutes used for this exercise never had an interruption for operational reasons. Hope it actually was one of my flights since you enjoyed it so much, it must mean there were others as well which also makes me quite happy.
Richard Lussier 14
I can't remember when it was, but I had a similar experience with the captain of a 737 on a Boston to O'Hare flight. He really put a lot of effort into the narrative. I thanked him as I disembarked in Chicago. I had always hoped others had listened and done the same. Thanks for helping bring this semi-forgotten memory out of my archival storage!

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

AWAAlum 14
To: Spelling Nazi
From: Punctuation Nazi
The question mark (?) is incorrectly inserted as part of your quote.
Tim Dyck 15
Aww the spellin nazi just showed up to virtue signal how much better he is than everyone else.
Effective communication depends on the messenger being understood by those receiving the message. In this case everyone knew what Scott was saying so there was no need for your rude and unsolicited BS. If you want to be obnoxious please head over to Facebook or Twitter were that kind of behaviour has already destroyed those platforms. This site is for adults who wish to discuss aviation related topics not spelling and grammer.
Dave Mathes 1
...resident dictionary....
Mark Schafer 15
I loved CH9. Two stories. Once we were stuck in the penalty box at O'Hare due to snow operations. The pilots left the cockpit to come back and mingle with the passengers (this was clearly pre 9/11). About 30 minutes in, I heard ATC repeatedly call our flight, and I had to tell the pilots that we were being hailed. Even better. Sitting in the deicing line in Denver on a dark night, waiting our turn. Another pilot asked to run his engines up to full power to be sure that there were no issues with the deicing fluid. We all heard the runup nearby. Then a voice comes over (with no identification) "Thanks for the blow job". I'm sure there were cackles in cockpits all over the field that night.
Mike Mohle 24
I always liked listening to Ch9 (even as a deadheading line pilot), situational awareness for the passengers, and getting the heads up on delays, holds, what approach they are are flying, etc. I always wondered why other airlines did not have the same thing.
Alan Kenfield 11
I was a very-early adopter in both the AA and UA FF programs, flying out of SFO and later SMF primarily. I had the option to bulk up miles on either of those, but almost always flew UA solely because of Channel 9. There were several times when, during boarding, I could ask the front office if Ch 9 would be available, and a few times the response was to the effect of "thanks for the reminder - Yes!".
Those were the days....
yatesd 11
Listening to channel 9 on a United flight from KORD to VHHH. This was in 2006, so a bit dated. Flying over Siberia and China really opened my eyes to the vast differences in the way ATC is handled. I don’t know if they were having a bad day or what, but controllers in China were downright confrontational. They also would often speak to Chinese pilots in Chinese, instead of English. The obvious problem with this being that in a heavily congested flight environment, not speaking the same language detracts from the situational awareness of all pilots. I hope that, since that time, things have improved…but I’m doubtful.
Andy Bowland 1
FYI...English is the language of aviation.

However, in other countries if the pilots are native speakers of the language they can speak in the language of the country. So in Mexico, for example, if a pilot of a US based airline initiates the ATC conversation with Spanish then the controllers will speak Spanish to that flight.

If it is a Chinese airplane the controllers would speak to each other in Chinese, in China. So the speaking in Chinese to airplanes was, most likely, spoken to other airplanes and not the United plane. But I do understand that Chinese ATC is brutal.
Pete Pereira 1
ICAO rules don't seem to have any muscle behind them and consequently merit little to no respect from member nations, as evidenced by how many nations use English selectively. Numerous accidents have been avoided by pilots paying attention to radio communications not intended for them. On the flip side too, numerous accidents might have been averted by a third party pilot if the communication between the involved parties had been in English. There is no such thing as local aviation that permits the use of some language other than English without compromising safety to some degree. Pilots and controllers who use a different language probably do so because they are more fluent in it (and the nation permits it), but by doing so they deprive themselves of the opportunity to improve their fluency in English, and when they have no other option, such as in/with an English-only region/crew, their appalling insufficiency in English increases the chances of miscommunication and error, with consequent compromise in safety for everyone, not just them.
Ben Bosley 10
Listened to Channel 9 as a kid in 2006 flying from ORD to LHR and the return trip. Fascinated listening to all these moving parts coming together to move thousands of pounds of metal into the air and to the other side of the world. Was a big influence in "catching the bug".
Frank Warzocha 9
Back in the 1980's and earlier when I did most of my flying I use to turn on channel 9 and listen to the conversation all the time. So it's been around for at lease 45 to 50 years .
victorbravo77 8
Ch9 has definitely been around more than "...a couple decades."

I listened on sound powered earphones as a kid!
Loyd Enochs 8
I used to listen to Ch9 all the time. Always far better than the IFE :) - I particularly enjoyed listening to the different accents of controllers on the US East Coast (on IAD-BOS for example). As others have mentioned, it gives the passenger a much greater appreciation of all the things that have to mesh properly and all the people who have to do their jobs precisely to make the whole system work effectively.
Peter Fuller 1
Speaking of accents, I remember in the ‘80s listening to ch9 on an ANC-SFO flight, heard heavy French accents and Canadian-accented controllers, Air France pilots talking to Vancouver. Haven’t traveled on UA in quite a while, but much enjoyed ch9 when it was available.
Herman Kanter 7
I wasn't aware that this cool feature still existed on UAL flights. I recall that it was available at the captain's disretion, and the switch to enable this feature was on the F/O's overhead panel.
jetserf 2
It varies by aircraft.
Chris Bryant 5
I remember listening to Ch9 on a DC-10 flight from ORD to SFO back in the mid-80s. We had to go to the "penalty box" due to an issue with the #2 engine during taxi. Announcement over the PA said it was an open access door. Took 20 minutes to fix (causing a missed connection in SFO).
James Cross 5
Shame it's so rarely enabled. Flew on two UA 757s this past week, the first one had "from the flight deck" but it was silent the whole flight, while the second didn't even have the option.
patrick baker 5
this is a overlooked special effect from the carrier to those sitting in the revenue seats. American Airlines had this for a short while, and the real problem is what to tune into and share. The neatest solution is to pipe backwards all ATC commos the airiner uses during the flight. There will be voices variety worth noting, a defined travel progression marked by those voices, and the thrilling "cleared to land" that i always find exhilarating and fulfilling, at least as a pilot-in-command
nemosteve1080i 9
During the 80's & 90's, UA's Channel 9 was a great travel companion. Instead of carrying a CD, MiniDisc, or Cassette player, all I needed was my pair of Sennheiser headphones and a double ⅛" plug adapter for the armrest connection. Whether a short domestic or a long transcontinental or transpacific flight, Channel 9 was much appreciated. I wish other airlines would offer their equivalent of the UA Channel 9.

AA had black & white cameras for a while in some of their A300 cockpits, framed from the perspective of the cockpit jump seat looking forward. I never saw the magic of this framing. If I were an AA pilot, I would have felt intruded upon by the camera framing. AA pilots are members of APA, not AFTRA (American Federation of Television & Radio Artists.

I vaguely recall ANA having early iterations of HD cameras installed in the belly and vertical stabilizer of some of their aircraft. I spent many hours on their flights watching Asia pass below me and the skies ahead of me. This feature coupled with Channel 9 offering would make for a very relaxing travel experience for me.

Those were the days!
jeff slack 9
Those cameras are current on Emirates aircraft.
Mesmerising to watch on a a380 as the world goes by........ I rarely get to movies.
nemosteve1080i 6
Most memorable Channel 9 event occurred while I was a passenger on a UA747 performing the morning service EWR-ORD. The landing gear having deployed, listening as we approached ORD, ATC commanded a go-round due to slow moving company traffic already crossing our runway. All four engines roared to go-round power, wing surfaces retracted, gear retracted, and then a professional, though terse radio discussion between pilots and the tower. Twenty minutes later, back on the ground and blocked at the gate. Connection still made.
aurodoc 6
Similar experience listening on channel 9 for me as well. Landing in Denver close to touch down as we were over one of the parking lots, Tower issued a go around due to a vehicle on the runway. A couple of seconds later up we went freaking out the passenger next to me so I had to explain to him what happened before the captain came on the intercom for the explanation.
dee9bee 11
AA also had the camera in the DC10s. There's an infamous story about a Captain, wearing a 'gorilla' glove, reach over towards the Copilot. The Copilot passes a banana to the gloved hand and the hand retracts.

I believe that was the beginning of the end of the cameras...
James Simms 2
I always have read that the crash of American 191 on 25 May, 1979 was the beginning of the end.

From Wiki: ‘Since the cockpit had been equipped with a closed-circuit television camera positioned behind the captain's shoulder and connected to view screens in the passenger cabin, the passengers may have witnessed these events from the viewpoint of the cockpit as the aircraft dove towards the ground. Whether the camera's view was interrupted by the power loss from the number-one electrical bus is not known.‘
btweston 5
As opposed to looking out the window?

I really don’t think it mattered what was on the little TVs. That was not their day.
matt jensen 2
I was on the ground in Elk Grove village when that jet plowed into the ground. Later I learned the pax knew about the crash before anyone on the ground realised what happened. Talk about watching your pwn death coming.....
Robert Henne 1
Thanks for the story, I just snorted and scared my dogs. lol...
Levi Shepherd 3
Once on a qantas flight from syd-lax they had cameras on the tail and belly, wasn’t that interesting for most of the flight as it was just ocean
avionik99 13
Ground control: UA123 there will be a 20 min delay getting to your gate. Please hold.

Pilot on loudspeaker: Ladies and gentlemen, we are being told there will be a 2 min delay getting to our gate this morning
ewrcap 19
Your implication here is that the pilots are always lying to you. Why would a pilot say two minutes when the delay was assigned by ATC or Ramp Control over which he has no control? Better to start off with worst case scenario then be the good guy when you get there in 15 minutes. These days everyone is a conspiracy theorist. Now that I’m retired, I sit in back and hear some of the most ridiculous BS imaginable from ill informed passengers who are just sure the pilot is lying to them or misinterpreting what he has said. My favorite is the guy who loudly announces to everyone within earshot that he is on the phone with his wife in New Jersey and SHE says the weather is just fine! Of course she can’t see the two hundred mile long line of thunderstorms stretching across Pennsylvania and blocking 90% of traffic arriving from or departing to the West.
Michael Ragsdale 3
Well said!
Dave Mathes 3
chpsto 3
Funny, I just read this article and had Channel 9 available on a 752 BOS-LAX last night! It was the first time I'd had it enabled on a flight in 4 plus years.

Since Channel 9 was a legacy UA feature, it slowly died with the CO merger. As traditional IFE was upgraded/eliminated on newer aircraft, there were fewer and fewer opportunities to hear it. Add a merger where 50 percent of the pilot population was unfamiliar with the feature, as well as a whole new generation of pilots who were never around in its heyday, its not hard to figure out why its become so rare.

For my part, I always thank the Captain whenever they provide it on flights, and make sure I mention it on my post flight surveys. I hope articles like this will renew interest in this feature, exclusive to United.
John Haller 1
It's a very late reply, but the new seat-back entertainment systems with Bluetooth connectivity being installed is bringing "From the Flight Deck" to more of the fleet. The A320s are being upgraded to include this.
Blake Angus-Anderson 3
Listened to Channel 9 once comeing home from Denver during world series. ATC gave pilots score update after every ining.
OnTheAve 3
I used to love listening to Channel 9 on the SFO-IAD 50 "heavy" route. This was the begining of my familiarity with some of the ATC lingo like "heavy."
Mike Taylor 1
I used to fly the SFO-IAD route more often than I liked in the 80's but I thoroughly enjoyed the UA DC-10 with the Deli. CH9 was a bonus. More often than not the flight wasn't full. And oftentimes I swear they had an under the table deal with American who also had a flight at the same time. And mysteriously one or the other would have a "mechanical" and they cancelled the flight and moved all the passengers to the other airline's flight.
Mike Taylor 1
I used to fly the SFO-IAD route more often than I liked in the 80's but I thoroughly enjoyed the UA DC-10 with the Deli. CH9 was a bonus. More often than not the flight wasn't full. And oftentimes I swear they had an under the table deal with American who also had a flight at the same time. And mysteriously one or the other would have a "mechanical" and they cancelled the flight and moved all the passengers to the other airline's flight.
Neale Ferguson 5
There have been many times where I've been on board a flight capable of channel 9 but the flight crew elect not to enable it. I don't understand the reluctance. The frantic bidding for slots across the Atlantic was always great listening.

The most interesting time was a flight LAX-SYD on 747-400. Just as we were approaching the Sydney coast during early morning storms there was a lightning strike. The PM reported to ATC we'd been hit. ATC inquired if they needed to declare an emergency but after several seconds the PM reported that everything was fine.

Our last MEL-SFO-IAD flight had channel 9 enabled on the SFO-IAD leg. I was able to create a video with the ATC as the soundtrack.
Bob Wolff 2
Misleading headline. I was hoping to learn how they did it technically and why no other airline followed suit.
Michael Osmers 1
See my post above for how it’s done.
Pete Pereira 2
In-flight magazines used to have articles that gave a glimpse of the inner workings of an airplane or the pilots activities during a flight or the number of people and systems that were involved in getting a single flight from its origin to its destination, etc. That stopped long ago, replaced by advertising for things that a kid has absolutely no interest in. With 9/11 shutting off in-flight visits to the flight deck and making even a visual glimpse inside a rarity, the audio peek into the cockpit via Ch 9 is one of the last frontiers that can attract a kid's interest and spark the beginning of an aviation enthusiast, who is likely to become one of the next generation with a love of aviation that makes for a more conscientious and dedicated and ultimately safer workforce. That would be preferable to the airlines luring people with extraordinarily high wages after shortages have crippled operations, or the ICAO allowing a pilot with training in a multi-crew operations curriculum and 240 hours total experience to fly as FO on an airplane that requires two qualified pilots and is serving a scheduled airline flight (but doesn't have the authority to fly a Cessna 152 as pilot in command), or Congress proposing to extend the retirement age of pilots to 67. Too bad the powers that be can't figure out or pay heed to what would attract people to the industry and act in a timely manner to fund it.
Check out the Civil Air Patrol, that is how I got started on my pilot path.
Dale Boehm 2
On like a A319 and the newer B737s I cant hear that with the newer seats that you have devices that you can not plug in to the seats. And I like to hear where I am going. Also that happens to be my hobby.
Kairho Carroll 2
Back in the late 70s I was on UA99 flying SFO-PHL and enjoying the ATC channel. We were at cruise when ATC advised to climb to [2000' above current level]. (Could have been 4000') Regardless, after a few minutes I noticed we were still climbing, for what seemed to be a lot longer time than required.

A minute later, still climbing, ATC: "United 99, where are you going?"
The nose immediately lowered, engines quieted a little and the cockpit eventually replied: "Uhhhh ... Philadelphia"
ATC's response was classic: "United 99 ... Yes, I see that now. Continue."
nathan casper 2
I was flying SFO-SLC and - as is often the case at SFO - we were on a fog hold. We were next in line for takeoff and just waiting for the minimums. Of course, those minimums can take quite a while to appear. After about 15-20 minutes of sitting, the pilot comes on the PA, invites everyone to channel 9 and tells us, "as soon as we hear them say 'RVR 500,' we're going before they have chance to change their mind."

As I recall, we sat there for almost an hour, but there was a cheer from the 20 or so of us who were still on channel 9 when we were cleared. And, true to his word, that pilot was on his roll within seconds.
Back in the day on the DC-10 you could listen to the ATC and watch the camera in the cockpit !!
loved flying back in those days....
Ian Hickling 2
flew Emirates two weeks ago and the A380 has three cameras you can watch. Really mesmerising.
david harris 1
Only AA had cameras in the cockpit on there 10s not United
Michael Ragsdale 2
As I recall, that cockpit camera on AA 191 that went down at ORD in May, 1979 was the basis for many "emotional distress" lawsuits by passenger relatives.
Bruce Horwitz 0
Yup, always enjoyed that.
david harris 2
was flying on a 777 from DEN-ORD i heard we were diverting to MKE before the crew told the pax thx ch 9 plus hear other cool stuff when going from MCI-ORD some military traffic was near it was so cool with Delta had something like this
Matha Goram 2
My faint but best memory of CH9/AA/DC10 was a "People" Express (SFO-LHR) requesting FL30 or above and being ignored by ATC for nearly 15 mins after which our flight paths diverged. I am totally ignorant about how these requests are handled but I thought it odd that ATC didn't provide basic courtesy of an explanation why the routine request could not be satisfied.
Rick Amerson 1
ATC and pilots keep the chatter to a minimum during busy times. Late at night with little traffic, you might hear some friendly banter, but during the day they want to minimize unnecessary traffic on the frequency. It doesn't help to know why; just know you can't. There's a list of reasons, but why should all pilots be blocked from communicating while ATC explains which one it is? If it's not important to the safety of the flight, skip it. No slight was meant to the pilot.

For example, requesting FL30 might involve several other planes at intermediate levels that would need to be rerouted to maintain required separation or the PE flight would need to be rerouted involving more concentration and planning from the controller when already very busy. Getting all the planes to the right place at the right time involves coordination that has already been done at the flight planning stage. Redoing that live might compromise safety.
Pete Pereira 1
Being "ignored" is different from not getting a detailed explanation. The former is very inappropriate, it could lead the pilots to think the transmit function of their comm radios has failed.
Lou Krieg 2
As a private pilot I loved listening to Channel 9. One evening, our flight from ORD to BTV was delayed due to a crew issue, but it was the last flight of the day to Burlington, so we pax were all very appreciative when United rounded up a crew, and we departed late, but at least we would get home that night. Approaching Burlington, ATC called out the airport and instructed "report the field in sight", no doubt expecting to clear us for a visual approach. I noticed we were crossing Lake Champlain on a nearly due east heading, which would have taken us right over mid field. Burlington is on a hill, and approaching from the west the airport is notoriously hard to spot due to city lights between you and the airport. The pilot got on the radio to Approach Control and confessed "Uh..Burlington Approach, it's been a while since we were up here (meaning Vermont)... where's the airport?". The controller graciously offered vectors to intercept the ILS to runway 15, and we turned north to loop around and get lined up landing to the southeast. Honesty is always the best policy!
Cecelia Minor 2
I got to listen in on a flight years ago from Dulles to Tampa and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I wish all airlines did that.
OnTheAve 2
I used to love listening to Channel 9 on the SFO-IAD 50 "heavy" route. This was the beginning of my familiarity with some of the ATC lingo like "heavy."
OnTheAve 2
The heavy at that time (mid-80s) was a 747 -- something that I missed also.
Herman Kanter 2
I wasn't aware that this cool feature still existed on UAL flights. I recall that it was available at the captain's discretion, and the switch to enable this feature was on the F/O's overhead panel.
Harvey Gold 3
I used to listen to Channel 9 whenever it was available. When it was not, as a Global Services tier flyer, I would sometimes ask for it to enabled, and sometimes my request would be honored. As more sophisticated entertainment systems became available, Channel 9 disappeared, alas.

Some of the more interesting conversations were when flying to or from the US and China. I would hear ATC from Russian, Mongolian, and Chinese controllers. The accents of some of the pilots were such that sometimes another pilot would have to "translate". I also liked flying into HKG from Singapore or the US and hearing "radar contact established".
brownbearwolf 2
On a trip from WSSS to EGLL, I was allowed to use the scanner, which allowed me on board comms and Aeros within 10 nm and both sides when over a repeater site. Enroute the general flavour was seeking better levels to get out of the forecasted winds at several levels. Some three other Aeros were either catching up or we slowed down, not sure but the Singa above drifted to the left and knowing it was there, looking out the window to a familiar sight on 2000' looking like 500' in the upper levels, the Signe I won't forget was each time the strobes flashed , the Singa's trail lit up like large balls of white cotton. An El Al DC 9 took off and headed north and climbed towards out ATS when eventually it came up on frequency and cleared to FL280 and slid in below us. The Singa above at FL 370, the Aero I was in was at FL350 and as each Aro traked towards RST, there were three Aeros one above the other. At RST the El Al went north and soon after I went to sleep. Had I not been able to listing to Comms, I would not have had that visual experience. To flight crews its a regular nightly experience.
1mooneymite 2
I wonder if NW's aircraft had been equipped with a channel 9 if the passengers would have passed word up to the cockpit that ATC was calling as the pilots over-flew the destination while the pilots were unaware, or asleep?
Bill Rothanburg 1
I preferred listing to Ch 9 on redeye flights where I could zone out and have some something interestng to listen to. Especially since I can't sleep on planes. Two memorable exchanges.

Weather delay landing in ORD, get put into a holding pattern and eventually redirected to RCR (I think) for fuel. ATC comes on and asks if we could goto ORD and the pilots are like "That's where we need to be anyway..."

Another flight from GRU to MIA, we're approaching Cuba and I hear an AA flight call Havana Center for clearance. Havana doesn't respond. After several attempts, another AA flight offers to relay for them. Finally Havana Center acknowledged and cleared the first AA flight.
Joe Birts 1
AA back in the 80s or 90's had a channel on some of it's DC-10s where you could listen in during landings. I remember listening during a landing at DFW when the controller issued a tornado warning just as we touched down. Looked out the window & saw it parallel to the runway a couple of miles away.
mike B 1
I was a UA 1K for 10+ years, and kept my loyalty because of Channel 9. On a 733 in the early 2000's flying DAY-ORD holding over South Bend for 2+ hours due to WX in ORD. Lots of traffic, then "United xxx declaring minimum fuel". ATC replied "so is everybody else". Interesting. The professionals worked together and found space for an ILS to then RWY 32L. All good!
Pete Pereira 1
I'm baffled… Ch 9 (whenever I listened in) used to be the active COM frequency, i.e. whatever was received or transmitted on the tuned frequency of one of the pilots, not the interphone audio between the crew. That broadcast audio is available—live—on the internet via apps like LiveATC. So how can anything captured from Ch 9 and posted to the internet or sent to anyone be deemed a "security risk?"
Bandrunner 1
Would be interesting to hear the unexpurgated version of cockpit chatter. Might raise a few eyebrows when the pilots forget the entire self-loading cargo is listening.
Ron Slater 1
I now know where those "MEOWS" are coming from
Michael Hallock 1
I loved when I had the experience of Channel 9 for the first time. It was so cool for a kid to listen to it. I would choose UA because they were unique to offer the ATC hookup
Dave Duca 1
I've been listening to CH9 (CH14 on 747s for a long time) for as long as I can remember, October 1972 I believe. It was one of the main reasons I chose United for all these years. I learned a lot about flying, and ATC communications, because of the 40 years or so of listening. Sadly, I suppose it is simply "too hard" to incorporate in their fleet. Some of the best conversations were over the ocean, if you could convince the flight deck to keep it on over water. Usually, they claimed it was too boring. Truly a piece of United history that is missed.

Too bad the article has zero information.
Dave Duca 1
I've been listening to CH9 (CH14 on 747s for a long time) for as long as I can remember, October 1972 I believe. It was one of the main reasons I chose United for all these years. I learned a lot about flying, and ATC communications, because of the 40 years or so of listening. Sadly, I suppose it is simply "too hard" to incorporate in their fleet. Some of the best conversations were over the ocean, if you could convince the flight deck to keep it on over water. Usually, they claimed it was too boring. Truly a piece of United history that is missed.
Tim ONeill 1
I also loved C9, was a UAL brat as Dad worked SFO ramp for 43 years. Remember one July monsoon approach to DEN from PHX where our flight was the last to land due to the approaching thunderstorm. As we approached the gate, a HUGE lightening shot nearby sent everyone scurrying in for about a half-hour ground stop. We shut down engines short of the gate but the jokes on C9 from the pilots were worth the delay!
John Danner 1
As a lifelong aviation enthusiast and a frequent transcon pax during my working years, I almost always listened to ch.9 on flights from EWR - LAX, SFO, ORD, etal. and loved it. For me, it was always entertaining and interesting too.
James Patterson 1
I loved listening when I was on flights that had it. I wish all airlines would have a "Channel 9." And they should all call it Channel 9, too!
Laurence Klem 1
I miss this!
Robert Henne 1
I thought it was gone years ago. United was my go-to airline because of ch-9.

After half a dozen flights or so without it, United was no longer my preferred airline as price and perks became my main decision for picking my flights. I didn't mind paying a little extra to fly United if I could listen to ch-9. I sure do miss it.
Tim Dyck 1
As a Ham Radio operator I often take a handheld with an earphone so I can tune into the conversations going on between the cockpit and the air traffic controllers. It’s always interesting to hear what is going on, including the occasional blunder.
Todd Busteed 1
LOVED... listening to Ch. 9. Did have the experience of hearing ATC ask our flight "Fuel and Souls on Board." Rear door seal indicator in the cockpit. Returned to OHare without incident, but I did note that Ch 9 went silent 2 minutes after that exchange.
captainfourbars 1
In years gone by when still more of a geek than a pilot, I deliberately flew United at any opportunity just for that fantastic benefit. Sadly, after one flight too many when it was not working or simply not activated, I switched to other carriers based upon other criteria but I never doubted that the generosity of spirit of those in charge of such ideas at United brought in extra business as a result of it. These days airlines seek ways of REDUCING what they give the passengers. Sad.
M Wagner 1
I remember listening as a kid and realizing that there were handoff points on the ground to help the pilots navigate!! I LOVED channel 9....I don't fly UA but at the rate things are going with contract negotiations on my AAirline I may be changing my mind! :)
fokrab 1
I could be wrong but Channel 9 was a carryover from Continental ? In any case 2 stories

1. I was on a flight from NY to Denver in the late 80’s/early 90’s. The female pilot did a check in with ATC mid flight but did not receive a response. So she repeated the request and ATC says something like “we hear you honey but we’re slammed right now” and something to the effect that a check in wasn’t necessary. She responded by saying don’t call me honey and then gave it to him citing procedure etc etc.

2 Pilot was directed by ATC to note a certain plane nearby at a certain location. Pilot responds, that my plane you are describing. I changed the channel and had a drink 🥃😀
jetserf 2
It’s a carryover from the old United. When Continental changed names they started using the feature at discretion of the flight crew.
paul gilpin 1
we were on final to TUL. we couldn't have been more than 200 feet up. 100% cloud cover. we could hear claps of thunder from the time we entered tulsa air space. it was just looking for a chance to start pouring down.
i was seated about midway back in coach. port side window seat. watching the lighting structures go by. landing light markers i guess.
a bolt of lightening struck one of the markers right beside me. i heard someone yell a word. it started with an "f" and ended with a "k" and it's not fire truck. that would be two words. i immediately cranked my head up and around to look and try to see who shouted the word.
all was calm in the cabin.
i couldn't figure it out. then i realized i was listening to the ATC/flight deck communication channel.
here's your phone number to call.
jgoedker 1
I wonder how many would understand or have the ability to follow along? I have no issues with this but it seems to be not all that worthy of being "news". Next thing they'll make the flight deck video available. Oh, wait, they already tried that. Back in the 70s I think. It didn't work out well when things went bad.
Jim Welch 3
I think this “IS” news, because the overwhelming percentage of the population has no idea LiveATC exists, and really enjoy the chance to listen in on “our world”, and really enjoy it!
At our hangar events, there’s usually someone with a handheld out the on our ramp with our guests & kids watching and listening to everything going on right in front of them, and they really have a fantastic time doing it.
Don’t forget that it was all mysterious magic to us at one time also. 😎
Stefan Sobol 1
I used to listen to Channel 9 whenever it was available. IME pretty much unavailable after 9/11. Pilots' Union probably killed it.
Michael Osmers 3
Since you asked… no the pilot’s union did not kill it. Why would you even say that? I had it on whenever I could as did many other PIC’s (as was our prerogative) and enjoyed providing that window into our world knowing at least a few were interested, I listened myself on my first airline flight to California on a DC8 in the early 70’s. To answer your comment though with a bit more information, since Continental senior management took control after the merger, no newly ordered aircraft (to my knowledge) were equipped to connect the number 1 comm to the passenger entertainment system. So as time goes on fewer and fewer of the aircraft are equipped for it.
John A. Johnson 1
Ya well ... I always have my handheld and earbuds on any aircraft I'm not in control of and ATC communications are just as much MY business as the PIC ....
David Rice 0
Back in the ‘90s, I flew weekly between EWR and DEN, which regularly allowed channel 9 “on”. On one such flight, ch 9 was “off”, so I asked a flight attendant (not sure why I thought they would assist) if they could inquire with the cabin crew about turning it “on”. The response I got was typical FA attitude, something like “maybe the Captain doesn't want to be judged by a pilot who flies a crappy little Cessna 172, like you.” The supposed insult stuck with me all these years. The joke, however, is on that crappy little flight school flunk-out of a FA…I flew a really nice Cessna 182 at the time. Still have it all these years later with a new engine and avionics. Wonder if that rude FA is still serving drinks as a “flying waitress” (he was pretty young back then).


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