Free Gogo Inflight Wi-Fi on Alaska Airlines this summer

Alaska Airlines is celebrating the rollout of Gogo Inflight Internet on their fleet with a summer of free access.

Gogo Inflight Internet is available on six of their Boeing 737-800 planes and the current plan is to have the entire fleet outfitted by the end of the year.

You’ll know that you are on a Wi-Fi enabled plane thanks to a Wi-Fi decal next to the boarding door. Once the plane reaches 10,000 feet, you’ll be able to turn on your portable device and search for the “gogoinflight” Wi-Fi network.

Through July 31st, access will be free of charge, compliments of the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card – saving you up to $12.95 per flight. You’ll need promotional code “ALASKAVISA” to bring the price down to $0.

Once the free period ends, access prices will vary between $4.95 and $12.95 depending on the length of the flight and the kind of device you are using.

At the moment, the Gogo Inflight service is only available when the plane is flying over the contiguous U.S. – coverage in parts of Alaska is scheduled to be available in early 2011. A map of the coverage area is available on the Alaska Airlines Wi-Fi information page.

Alaska Airlines picks Gogo Inflight for their Wi-Fi service

This morning, Alaska Airlines became the latest of the major carriers to sign on with Aircell for their Gogo Inflight Wi-Fi service. Previously, Alaska had been testing the satellite based inflight Internet systems from Row44, but because of the speed at which the Aircell system can be installed, Gogo emerged as the system of choice.

As of right now, the Aircell network only covers the lower 48, but it will soon be expanded into Alaska.

Inflight Internet access on Alaska Airlines will start at $4.95. Alaska and Aircell will initially install the Gogo service on a Boeing 737-800. Once the equipment has been certified for their 737 aircraft, the airline will start outfitting its entire fleet, beginning with their 737-800s serving longer routes.

The Gogo Inflight service is already available fleet-wide on Airtran and Virgin America, as well as select routes on United Airlines, Air Canada, Delta Airlines, US Airways and American Airlines. With almost 730 planes, they are by far the largest inflight Internet provider in the world.

Two years in jail for pointing a laser at a plane

The “sport” of pointing a laser pointer at a plane is not new – many people have been arrested for the stupid stunt.

Last week was a first though – someone caught pointing their laser at two planes was arrested, and sentenced to two and a half years in jail.

His first target was a United Airlines plane carrying 180 passengers. When the beam hit the cockpit window, the pilot caught it right in the eye, causing “flash blindness”. The second target was an Alaska Airlines jet, this time the pilot was able to duck below a glare shield, but did have to abort a critical turn.

There appears to be no shortage of stupidity in the world, and shining a laser pointer at a jet just reinforces that. I’m not even sure what is going through the mind of someone who thinks this is a fun game.

These planes are carrying a lot of people, and in many cases they are on their final approach, one of the most critical parts of the entire flight. To me, two and a half year is on the short side – but hopefully it’ll still send a message to anyone else who was thinking of messing around with their laser pointer.


Bravo Alaska Airlines – bag not on the belt in 25 minutes? $25 off your next flight!

It doesn’t matter how much of an experienced traveler you are – if you checked a bag, you are at the mercy of someone in the basement of the airport to get your bag.

I’ve had my bags tagged “priority”, and still spent 2 hours waiting for them to appear on the carousel.

Alaska Airlines understands our frustration, and is introducing a “Baggage Service Guarantee” which will go into effect on July 7th.

Their guarantee is simple – if you wait more than 25 minutes for your bags to reach you, you’ll get $25 off your next flight, or 2500 frequent flier miles.

Of course, their timing is a little suspicious, because they just announced that they’ll be joining the ranks of other airlines that charge for all checked baggage. Your first bag will cost $15, the second $25 and the third $50. This probably means people will secretly be hoping for their bags to take their time, so they can make some of that money back.

Extra seat charges: big bias or svelte snobbery?

As airlines are scrambling for any shred of extra revenue they can find, some policies are getting more attention than others. The so-called “fat passenger policies,” which govern the accommodation of passengers who require more than one seat, have attracted the ire of the NAAFA. Never heard of it? It’s a new one on me, too: the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. On the other hand, passengers who pay for one seat and use only one seat wonder why the hell larger passengers should consume two of the airlines’ fundamental units for sale (i.e., the use of a seat on a plane) for the price of one.

Here’s the perspective that’s been lacking: revenue per available seat mile (RASM). Check “Making Sense of the Airline Industry” for a deeper look at how this measure works. Then, come back here and think about what it means for the sale of seats on planes. Cash-strapped airlines are forced to give up revenue.

United Airlines seems to have found a way to balance both sides of this argument. If there is an extra seat available on a flight, a passenger who can’t fit into one seat will be given the extra at no charge. On full flights, larger passengers can wait for a later one that has space and can occupy two seats at no extra charge.

Southwest, Alaska Airlines and Continental have policies, as well. Though the specifics vary, the armrest is pretty much the decision maker. If you can’t put it down, you can’t occupy only one seat. Southwest and Alaska Airlines require the purchase of an extra seat but will refund that part of the fare if the flight is not full. Continental, on the other hand, won’t refund the difference. In fact, the airline requires the purchase of an additional seat on each segment flown at a “hefty day-of-travel rate [read the original article, “hefty” was not my word, though I applaud the writer for being gutsy].”

JetBlue has no formal policy and claims that its larger seat size is already a step in the right direction. Delta and Northwest say that they’ll do what they can to accommodate larger passengers, but a purchase may be necessary. Virgin America asks that the big folks buy two, with one refunded if there’s an empty on the flight.

You can get my thoughts after the jump.At the end of the day, there is only one point that matters. Airlines are businesses run in the interests of their shareholders. Since most of these businesses are struggling, they need to do what they can to maximize revenue. If that means charging for two seats for passengers who can’t fit in one, so be it. If an airline feels that that’s a public relations nightmare and would rather accept the degradation RASM … it’s up to them.

It’s a numbers game – and not the numbers on the scale.

I’ve always been a believer in “pay to play.” You want a seat? Cough up. You want two? Cough up twice as much. “Buffet-style” air travel – in which you pay once and take as much as you want – simply doesn’t work.

And, I respect airlines for addressing the rights of all passengers. Everyone has a “sitting next to a fat guy” story. Yes, some are really just infantile bitching because planes are generally cramped. But, some are legitimate. A larger passenger who wants to save a few extra dollars and can’t put the armrest down is having his ticket subsidized by mine. That has an effective financial impact on me, and it’s unacceptable.

It’s not an issue of weight. However you look at it, the concern is financial. Take the word “fat” out of the equation, and it’s much easier to solve.