One of our biggest pet peeves about long-haul international flights of late has been the lack of Wi-Fi available on board. We can use our in-flight Internet from New York to California, but the minute we head off the coast, we’re out of luck.
The expense of offering this satellite Wi-Fi has proven prohibitive for airlines that see low usage and high costs to outfit planes with new technology. International Wi-Fi isn’t impossible – just infrequently available.
Lufthansa, for example, already offers this service on many of their flights, Qantas has trialed the program between Los Angeles and Australia, and United is set to roll out the service later this year.
Now AirFrance and KLM airlines have joined with Panasonic Avionics to roll out a program of their own. They will begin offering in-flight connectivity trials on long-haul flights beginning in early 2013.
This will enable travelers to stay connected with the world through text messages or emails, and allow for an Internet connection and ultimately live broadcasts of TV programs. On the specially designed in-flight website, a broad range of services will be offered for free, like latest news, TV channels, relevant airline and destination information and unique offers of online magazines.
“Being permanently connected is now part of our customers’ daily lifestyles. This trial run is the first step of Air France’s and KLM’s long-term strategy to offer in-flight connectivity solutions across our long-haul fleet,” said Christian Herzog, senior vice president of marketing for Air France and KLM.
The trial phase will be conducted over the year 2013 on two Boeing 777-300s, operated by each airline. During this period, travelers will be able to hook up to the Internet via their Wi-Fi enabled smartphone, laptop or tablet PC at a fixed rate, as well as use their mobile phone for SMS or email, whatever their travel class.
It sounds like a great program, and one we hope to see more of on other airlines in the future.
[Flickr via slasher-fun]