In-flight internet access is on the up and up. Thanks to a list compiled by Lifehacker, it’s now easy to get a glimpse of just how much progress has been made over the past few years. It looks like AirTran and Virgin America are the best bets for in-flight Wi-Fi, while United Airlines is the worst. According to the company’s website, only 59 of the airline’s 700+ planes have Wi-Fi.
We did a little more digging to find out exactly where airline Wi-Fi stands (prices are for domestic flights), and here’s what we came up with:
*These fleets are serviced by Gogo Inflight Internet. Frequent fliers will want to consider buying a Gogo pass, which can cover all flights in a day or month. Since the majority of airlines use Gogo, one pass could cover multiple legs of a trip — even if different airlines are used.
It is also important to note that even if the airplane you’re flying has Wi-Fi, every seat may not have access to a power outlet. No airline has yet ensured outlets at each seat, but Seat Guru has documented where the power outlets are in each type of aircraft. Additionally, you’ll want to check and make sure you have the right adaptor, or you might find it difficult to get some work done at 10,000 feet.
Loyalty programs keep travelers coming back, granting more perks and benefits the more they use a service provider. But what happens as the world of travel evolves and companies merge to gain efficiency and price advantage or just to stay in business? In some cases, the customer comes out ahead.
Southwest Airlines’ merger with the AirTran Airways subsidiary is well underway. Though not yet complete, the company is bringing the benefits of each carrier’s frequent flier program to the members of both.
Air travelers who are members of both Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program and AirTran’s A+ Rewards plan can shift program credits between the two in order to redeem award travel on either airline.
The move gives Southwest Rapid Rewards members some new vacation options. AirTran flies to destinations Southwest doesn’t serve in Mexico and the Caribbean. Still, only credit transfers between accounts are allowed, as the two loyalty programs remain separate.
“Rapid Rewards members can transfer 1,200 program points or one Rapids Rewards credit into one A+ Rewards credit. AirTran frequent flyers can switch one A+ credit into one Rapid Rewards credit. The A+ program requires 16 credits for one round-trip coach ticket on AirTran, and Southwest’s program requires 16 credits for one Standard Award ticket. Thirty-two A+ Rewards credits are worth one Freedom Award in the Southwest program,” said an article in Executive Travel Magazine.
Thinking of other frequent flier programs, a common question is raised: What might happen to accumulated points if a proposed merger of American Airlines and US Airways occurs?
Experts agree: probably not much.
“All things being equal, I would expect a merged American-US Airways frequent flier program to be somewhat less generous than the two airlines’ programs today,” said Seth Kaplan, managing partner of Airline Weekly in a Reuters report. “Maybe you’ll need more miles for free tickets to certain regions, or maybe award seats will be more scarce, or maybe it’ll be harder for elite fliers to get first-class upgrades.”
Kaplan offers the following advice:
Start using up your miles, particularly if you’re interested in flying on a carrier in an alliance that might not be available to you when the deal is done.
Shop around to see whether another airline would meet your needs. But make sure the carrier flies the routes you most travel. This way when one of them starts dangling offers to lure you, you’ll know if it’s a smart move to shift your loyalties.
Take advantage of deals still being offered in the current programs, such as free upgrades.
The notion that travelers are “married to their frequent traveler programs” may not be a stretch. In a survey conducted in January by Starwood Preferred Guest, 73 percent of participants chose their loyalty program benefits over a spouse if they could take just one on the road.
AirTran Airways is teaming up with Danica Patrick and the Indy Racing Experience to give seven lucky winners and their guests the ride of their lives on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. To complete the journey, winners will also receive two roundtrip flights on AirTran Airways, a $100 Hertz certificate, lunch and one night of hotel accommodations to prepare for the big day on Friday, October 2. All you have to do is log onto http://www.airtran.com/danica before September 1, 2009 and register using their AirTran Airways A+ Rewards frequent flyer number. Winners will be chosen on September 8. For consumers that are not already A+ Rewards members, registration is free. Participants must be 18 years of age or older to be eligible.
If you don’t know who Danica Patrick is, then I don’t think you’ll be that interested in this silly little contest. I imagine most entrants will be of the male variety, and would love the opportunity to pull on Danica’s throttle — or be her backseat driver for a day.
Good luck — and if you win, tell Danica that Gadling sent you!
For anyone in the air a lot, Peter Graves is probably a bit of a cult hero. His role as Captain Oveur in Airplane! is one of my all time favorites.
So, when I came across Peter Graves (and a couple of other celebs) explaining “Internetiquette” on board AirtTan flights with the Gogo Inflight service, I just had to share them with you.
The site has three hilarious clips and a guidebook, and even if you don’t plan to fly AirTran any time soon, I highly recommend making some time to watch them – you won’t regret it (unless of course, you hate Airplane! and Peter Graves).
All joking aside – their Internetiquette guide actually provides some common sense tips about online security and the kind of photos you shouldn’t be looking at in public. Enjoy!
Is AirTran the pot or the kettle? It’s hard to say, but the airline that has done a great job of making passengers uncomfortable – think of it as the Greyhound experience of the sky – is now telling passengers how they can keep from making their fellow fliers unhappy. It’s like giving a stern warning and nothing more to a bank robber caught in the act: it won’t do much.
This isn’t exactly a new concern. The debate over in-flight porn may be behind us but is not forgotten. And, even non-sexual computer interaction may involve some actions that disturb other passengers – from muttering to yourself to shuffling papers around.
So, what does AirTran recommend? Find out after the jump.
1. Flight attendants are not tech support (no shit)
2. Online investors shouldn’t give advice to other passengers (would be nice even on flights without wi-fi)
3. Be aware of anyone who could be reading over your shoulder
4. Don’t offer to land the plane for the flight crew
Yeah, not much to work with … you can check out the list here.