Singapore Airlines to roll out ‘total connectivity’ in 2011

Travelers have long found the electronics ban to be a mixed burden and blessing – for some, it’s an oasis of peace and quiet during an otherwise hectic day. For others, flights, particularly long ones, are time sucks of lost productivity. In recent years, the roll-out of in-flight Wi-Fi services has dramatically improved the ability of business travelers to stay on top of their work.

Now, Singapore Airlines is entering the race to become the first major “fully connected” airline in Asia, rolling out the ability to make and receive phone calls, texts, and use Wi-Fi Internet on long-haul flights. Part of a collaboration with in-flight connectivity provider OnAir, the carrier will debut a range of on-board communication offerings as early as the first half of 2011.

These services will will be introduced progressively on flights operated by the Airline’s A380, A340-500 and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

“The environment that our customers have gotten used to on the ground can soon be replicated in the air, when they fly with Singapore Airlines on aircraft fitted with this new connectivity platform. Traveling for business or pleasure, they are just a click or a text message away, with access to live information, social networking and news updates, as well as in-flight shopping,” said Singapore Airlines’ Senior Vice President Product & Services, Mr. Yap Kim Wah.

“The agreement is extremely significant. It sends a strong signal to the industry that in-flight passenger communications has come of age – and is a must-have for airlines looking to remain competitive in the future,” said Ian Dawkins, CEO of OnAir.

Customers who use the mobile services will see their usage reflected in the monthly bills from their telecommunications provider where international GSM roaming rates apply.

We’re curious to see the backlash from this, particularly as abuses of the new-found “power” begin to occur. Will your overweight, unshowered middle eat companion now be allowed to yap endlessly to their friends about last night’s escapades, or will calls be limited in time and duration? Will flights have a designated “quiet zone”? We’ll be sure to follow up on any developments, and any airlines that follow suit.

[Flickr via William Hawkins]

Win free Inflight Internet for a year from T-Mobile and Gogo Inflight

Back in February, we mentioned a neat promotion between T-Mobile and Gogo Inflight where buyers of the new T-Mobile HTC HD2 get 6 months of free access to the Gogo service.

Now the two have teamed up again to promote this new Windows Powered smartphone.

Sure, the grand prize may be a trip for four to L.A., but to me, the free year of Gogo Inflight Internet access is the prize that stands out. In total, you’ll get 200 free sessions, and honestly, if you fly more than that in a year you are insane (or well on your way to it).

This is over $2,500 in free Internet access – and more than enough for a ton of inflight Tweets about how awesome inflight Internet is.

To enter the contest, you’ll need to hand over some personal information, and extra entries can be won if you link things to your Facebook account.

Other prizes include an HTC HD2 smartphone, TV box sets, DVD’s and more. So, head on over to the contest page and try your luck.

US Airways inflight Wi-Fi service available on all A321 aircraft – with a freebie

After a brief introduction period, US Airways has become the next big airline to bring the Gogo Inflight Internet service to most of its planes. Starting this week, the service will be available on all US Airways Airbus A321 planes, and for the next seven days, access will be free of charge (June 1st – June 8 11:59pm)

When you board a Gogo enabled plane, you’ll see a Wi-Fi symbol next to the boarding door, as well as an instruction card in the seat pocket. Once the plane passes 10,000 feet (and the captain permits it), you can turn on your laptop, PDA, iPad or smartphone, and access the network.

After this week, access will cost $4.95 on flights up to 1 1/2 hours, $9.95 ($7.95 for small mobile devices) on flights up to 3 hours, and $12.95 ($7.95 for small mobile devices) on flights over 3 hours. On select flights, you’ll even be able to access the service up to 100 miles beyond the U.S. border.

To learn more about the service, how to connect, and where it’ll be available – check out the US Airways Gogo Inflight Internet page.

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.