Love in Plane Sight: United Airlines Kicks Off The Holiday Season By Releasing Its First … Rom-Com?

United Airlines has released its first original film, Love In Plane Sight. First advertised as a Romantic Comedy, the film was released on the 16th of November. The reason the airline gave for its release was, “We♡ holiday rom-coms so much that we went ahead made our very own”.

The announcement was met with criticism – some replies read, “I believe in wi-fi that actually works….. Yours doesn’t”, “How about i lost my love like united loses my luggage..” and “Where is the gay one”, which hints at another masterpiece in the United Airlines Cinematic Universe. 

In their defence, the film is less than six minutes long, a little less egregious.

I Watched Love In Plane Sight, So You Don’t Have To

The film begins with a monologue by our protagonist, Elle Towe, who dreads returning home for the holidays. She’s kind of an Elinor Dashwood type – dutiful and practical – seemingly married to her job.

“Oh, and I can’t wait for my parents to ask me why I’m still single. I don’t know, maybe because I’m an astronomer?”

Elle laments before elaborating that due to her job, she has unconventional hours, and she may as well be married to the sky. The scene then cuts to an attendant waiting for her to check her luggage in, the first of many reminders that this film is all too self-aware of its place as a romantic comedy.

Although she’s a little cookie-cutter, Elle’s nerdiness is genuinely endearing. Instead of voicing her thoughts, she often allows her emotions to play out in various facial expressions.

Elle Towe looks slightly disgruntled in her plane seat.
Elle Towe, our protagonist. © United Airlines

Through a notification on her phone screen, the audience understands that she is flying to the fictional country (city? state?) or Polarisonia, a reference to United’s business class, Polaris.

Elle strolls through the airport with her gingerbread latte, marvelling at the Christmas decorations and carol services on the way to her gate. Festivities are in full swing — she even spots a man who looks suspiciously like Santa Claus on her way to her gate.

a man who looks like Santa Claus walking through an airport.
Santa flies United. © United Airlines

Unfortunately, the holiday cheer is interrupted when her love interest, who we later learn is named Sam K. Young (or S.K.Y., as he’s conveniently nicknamed), bumps into her. The man apologizes and rushes off, leaving Elle and her stained jumper.

Medium close up of Sam. he looks apologetic.
Sam’s first appearance. © United Airlines

To make matters worse, once Elle arrives at her seat, she finds out Sam has been seated next to her. Sam is shown to be a typically abrasive seat neighbor — he constantly spills things, peers over her shoulder at her inflight entertainment, and offers annoying small talk.

A still from Love at Plane Sight (2023). It features protagonist Elle Towe and her love interest Sam K Young making faces to a baby who is out of frame.
Elle and Sam calm down a wailing infant. © United Airlines

All this changes when something somehow more annoying than Sam enters the picture. The two overhear an infant’s wail, and rather than rolling their eyes in discomfort, the two sit up and search for the infant, who immediately quietens upon seeing their Hollywood smiles. It’s a very sweet moment because it humanizes both characters — rather than a grumpy academic, Elle becomes a well-meaning older sibling. Unlike an immature young bachelor, Sam’s behaviours enter the realm of a goofy father. Their connection isn’t solely attributed to the baby; the film implies Santa’s elves have been at work at United Airlines, ensuring the couple are sat together.

A close up shot of a flight attendant with elf ears.
Santa’s Elves work for United. © United Airlines

Sam’s occupation further humanizes him, revealed to Elle when she picks up an in-flight magazine profiling his work. He explains to Elle that he heads a team working on turning “banana peels, used cooking oil, and even fallen tree branches into sustainable aviation fuel”. Elle’s eyes light up when he explains, “…So we can help protect the sky”.

This entrances Elle – remember, she loves the sky – but the moment is interrupted by a message from her father asking if she needs a lift home from the airport, presumably a subtle plug for United’s inflight wi-fi. Sam offers to give Elle a lift home, and we cut to an entire year later when Elle and Sam, now newlyweds, are taking their honeymoon flight.

Sam and Elle, dressed for warm weather, toast in their plane seats.
The newlyweds celebrate with a flight to Honolulu. © United Airlines

Presumably, Sam’s commitment to helping to protect the sky comes second to his honeymoon. Hawaii has recently faced the U.S.A.’s deadliest wildfires in over a century. Some residents have implored tourists not to visit, fearing the island’s fragile ecosystem will be further damaged.

Perhaps this is a short-haul electric flight, or the power of Christmas has removed all pollution from the air, as the final shot shows Santa, appropriately dressed for Honolulu, winking at the camera. Regardless, it is more than likely that the film was in post-production by the time the Maui wildfires started, so Elle and Sam’s destination could likely not be changed.

Santa Claus in United Airlines' new film, love in plane sight. He wears a Hawaiian shirt, sunglasses and lei. He is sat in business class and is winking.
Santa winks. © United Airlines

The film ends with Run DMC’s Christmas in Hollis and a short P.S.A. asking audiences to check out their efforts in developing sustainable aviation fuel. Judging from the genre of the film, perhaps a song from Mariah Carey or Ariana Grande’s catalogue might’ve been more suitable. But Christmas in Hollis‘s upbeat tone and lyrics help push the film’s more comedic elements, steering it away from becoming too sugary sweet.

You can watch Love in Plane Sight online here or stream it the way Santa intended onboard your United Airlines flight from the 1st of December.

Have you seen Love in Plane Sight? What did you think of the movie? What original movies would you like to see next from United? 

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Bella Pelster
Bella Pelster
I'm a Londoner with a huge passion for travel, history and sustainability. In my spare time I love reading novels (any genre, any author) and watching television and films (mostly the sopranos)!