updated 1/31/2011 11:16:38 AM ET 2011-01-31T16:16:38

Flying during the Super Bowl no longer means waiting for the pilot to announce the latest score.

But if you're hoping to watch the Packers-Steelers matchup at 30,000 feet next Sunday, plan carefully: Not every airline with TV will be showing the game and not all digital alternatives work once regular-season football ends.

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JetBlue Airways pioneered satellite TV on commercial airplanes in 2000 and four other U.S. airlines now have it. On airlines without TV, a Wi-Fi Internet connection is the next best thing because it allows you to watch shows live on laptops, iPhones and other devices.

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"Today, pilots are more likely to walk into the cabin and see if they can find somebody who has the score," says Rick Seaney, CEO of airfare search site

Here's everything you need to know if you're flying next Sunday and don't want to miss Super Bowl XLV:

  • JetBlue, Frontier and most Continental planes will carry the game on DirecTV. JetBlue's service is free; Continental and Frontier charge $6.
  • Virgin America and Delta Air Lines have free TV. But they carry the DISH Network, which, on planes, doesn't have Fox — the channel broadcasting the game.
  • On planes with Wi-Fi, there's only one option: Slingbox, a $180 piece of hardware that connects to a home TV and allows users to watch programming on their laptop, iPad and some smartphones.

Fliers can watch regular-season football via Wi-Fi using DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket To-Go, which streams games to laptops and some smartphones. But the playoffs and the Super Bowl aren't part of the package.

Airlines that have Wi-Fi include: American, Delta, Southwest, United, US Airways and Virgin. Prices range from $4.95 to $12.95, depending on the length of the flight. Only Delta, US Airways, United and Virgin tell passengers whether Wi-Fi is available on specific flights before booking.

A couple of caveats about Wi-Fi: connections on planes are slow, and the service can't be used when the plane is flying below 10,000 feet.

Jay Cox, 40, chose Frontier for his two-hour flight from Milwaukee to New York on Sunday knowing that he'd be able to tune-in to the game.

If Frontier had been booked, Cox says, "I would have found another airline with TV or taken an earlier flight to be on the ground during the game."

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Not everybody is so lucky. Caitlin McNamara, 26, will be flying while the game is on, from Boston to San Diego — an eight-hour trip, with a stop in Denver. But when she booked the flight on United two weeks ago, she didn't realize it was Super Bowl Sunday. JetBlue's flight was about $75 more, a difference McNamara now says she gladly would have paid.

"I didn't think about it at the time, which I now regret," she says.

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Even though beer is served on planes, the atmosphere is typically less boisterous than a friend's house or the corner bar — unless the flight's heading to a team's home town. JetBlue flight attendant Eric Spar recalls strangers high-fiving each other and pilots calling back for recaps after each big cheer, during the Jets playoff victory against the Patriots.

Once the game is over, "everybody goes back to reading their Kindles. It's business as normal," says John Rieter, 40, a frequent traveler who watched his first airborne football game on Continental the other week.

The number of fans watching the Super Bowl midflight will be small. Only 45,000 or so fliers will have access to Sunday's game on live TV. That's less than half the 93,000 fans who will be inside Cowboys Stadium.

Still, how many of them will have the option of a window seat?

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Dazzling Dallas

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  1. Dallas in the spotlight

    Super Bowl fans will find plenty to do in Dallas, from shopping to visiting a musuem to taking in the nightlife at the city's bars and restaurants. (Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Real-life cowboys

    A daily cattle drive takes place Jan. 19 at the stockyards in Fort Worth, Texas. The Fort Worth Stockyards on Exchange Avenue are just one of the sights football fans can see as they descend upon the Dallas-Fort Worth area for Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (LM Otero / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. The fat lady sings

    "The Dallas Opera has performed three world premieres and five American premieres," according to its website. The Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House is located in Dallas. (Timothy Hursley) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. They call him Country Willie

    Legendary musician Willie Nelson, seen performing last year at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas, will perform ahead of Super Bowl weekend at the Palladium Ballroom. (Bob Riha / Virgin America Airlines via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. The real deal

    Visitors to Dallas can enjoy real, authentic Mexican food, like the Chuychanga at Chuy's. (Chuy's) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Flagship store

    The Neiman Marcus Building, in downtown Dallas at Main and Ervay Streets, is a recorded Texas historic landmark. The building was completed in 1914. (Neiman Marcus) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Drinking, music and ... bull riding?

    "More than just a honky tonk," claims the Billy Bob's Texas website. Located in the Fort Worth Stockyards, Billy Bob's offers up meals, drinks, dance lessons, concerts and, yes, bull riding. (Billy Bob's Texas) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Cowboys Stadium

    Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, will host the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers on Feb. 6, 2011, for Super Bowl XLV. (Tony Gutierrez / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Dallas Blooms

    This floral festival at the Dallas Arboretum, boasts its website, "is the largest floral festival in the southwest with over 500,000 spring-blooming bulbs." (Dallas Arboretum) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Hard rider

    Kelsi Elkins is seen riding to a time of 18.07 seconds in the Championship Barrel Race event at Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo on Jan. 29. The year 2011 marks the 115th Championship year of the event, according to its website. (Max Faulkner / The Fort Worth Star-Telegram via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Remembering JFK

    High on the list for first-time visitors to the Dallas-Fort Worth area is Dealey Plaza, nearby the site where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 in Dallas. An admission fee will get you in to the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, inside the building known as the Texas School Book Depository, where Lee Harvey Oswald set up his perch at a corner window. (Tony Gutierrez / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Celebrating sports history

    Iconic photographs taken by Neil Leifer are on display at the Neil Leifer exhibit, titled "For the Love of the Game," at the Photographs Do Not Bend Gallery in Dallas, through March 26. (Photographs Do Not Bend Gallery) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Big game excitement

    Annaleise Weir, left, of Dallas and Anna Bray, right, of Wylie, Texas, ice skate around a freshly added Super Bowl XLV logo at the Galleria shopping mall Jan. 24 in Dallas. (Tony Gutierrez / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Blended or on the rocks?

    Dallas is home to the first frozen margarita machine, invented by Dallas restaurateur Mariano Martinez and inspired by a 7-Eleven Slurpee machine. (Mariano's Hacienda) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Works of art

    Northpark Mall has a "tradition of showcasing major works by world-renowned artists including Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Jim Dine, Jonathan Borofsky, James Rosenquist and others," according to its website. (Gary Blockley) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Who shot J.R.?

    Actor Larry Hagman poses in 2008 in front of the Southfork Ranch mansion made famous in the hit 1980s television show "Dallas" in Parker, Texas. At least two Super Bowl parties are planned for the site, about 25 miles north of downtown Dallas. (Tony Gutierrez / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Thrill seekers

    The Flashback ride, foreground, and the parachute drop, background, are seen at Six Flags Over Texas, located in Arlington, Texas. (Six Flags Over Texas via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Maestro van Zweden

    Jap van Zweden, pictured at his premiere concert at the Meyerson Symphony Center in 2007, is the music director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. (Dallas Symphony Orchestra via Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Art walk

    The Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas "is one of the few institutions in the world devoted to the exhibition, study and preservation of modern sculpture," according to its website. The collection at NSC includes 300 sculptures, paintings and drawings. (Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. A slice of history

    Self-proclaimed Kennedy fanatic Chris Mays from California takes photos of the grassy knoll in front of the former Texas School Book Depository Building, left, in Dealey Plaza, where the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy took place in Dallas. (Mark Ralston / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Big welcome

    The State Fair of Texas at Fair Park in Dallas with inflatable 'Big Tex' at night. Big Tex stands 52-feet-tall and has been welcoming visitors to the fair since 1952. (Peter Poulides / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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