Internet: An airline extra that might be worth paying for

American Airlines may have actually come up with a way to make more money without ticking people off. Instead of charging for a service that used to be free–did anyone say checked bags?–the airline is piloting a system to charge passengers for Internet privileges.

Yep, that’s right. While you’re winging your way through the skies, you can log on. Need to e-mail? No problem.

You’ll also be able to instant message, download videos, and connect to a smart phone through a secured network using your own laptop.

Passengers on one lucky flight today from Kennedy in New York to Los Angeles and a flight from Los Angeles to New York will be able to test the service for free.

In a couple of weeks, American will expand broadband to other flights on Boeing 767-200 jets. Flights to San Francisco and Miami are next.

These Internet capabilities are being developed through a partnership with Aircell LLC. Aircell’s network is large enough to handle a whole plane load of Web surfers.

Knowing that you need to diversify in business, Aircell is also working out details with JetBlue and Virgin America for similar services.

American Airline’s latest money scheme is one I like. Adding a new service and charging for it instead of wringing money out of folks who used to get the same thing for free seems smarter. The price isn’t bad either. Internet will cost between $9.95 and $12.95 depending on the length of the flight.

And in case you’re wondering about the chances of pornography showing up on the screen next to you–or on yours, not a chance–at least not much of one. According to the article, the flight attendant will stop the funny business. There are already policies against bringing pornography on the plane. The same applies to Internet, even though such sites won’t be filtered out . Blocking them might disrupt service. Mind your manners, and the skies will stay friendly. [via AP]