Boeing Promises Better In-Flight Wi-Fi

There is no doubt that one of the best innovations in air travel in recent years has been the addition of in-flight Wi-Fi. Not only does it help us to stay more productive, but it is a great way of staying in touch with friends and family, not to mention keeping entertained on a longer flight. Of course, if you’ve ever used wireless Internet while on a plane, you probably know that the quality of the connection varies widely, ranging from incredibly slow to impressively fast – especially considering you’re in a flying tube 30,000 feet above the ground. Now, Boeing is promising to make the experience a much more consistent one thanks to a new method of testing and optimizing the Wi-Fi signal strength in a plane.

Boeing’s new testing process arose from a set of existing proprietary tools that they already used to ensure radio signals from Wi-Fi didn’t interfere with the aircraft’s instrumentation. While using those tools they discovered that they could be fine tuned to help optimize the signal of the wireless router for greater efficiency. They also managed to cut the time for testing down from two weeks to just ten hours, significantly improving an engineers’ ability to improve wireless performance in a short amount of time.

What all of this means for you and I as travelers is that we’ll soon have a much more consistent and useful Wi-Fi connection on longer flights. In their press release touting this improvement, Boeing stated that even people getting up and moving about the cabin could have a detrimental effect on signal strength, but with this new method of testing, they were quickly and more efficiently able to tune the router for better performance, greatly limiting these issues. That’s something that we can all appreciate.

Now, if the airlines would just hurry up and get Wi-Fi working properly on more international flights, I’ll be one happy traveler.

[Photo Credit: EPA via WikiMedia]

Air France And KLM Next Up For International In-Flight Wi-Fi

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]

Delta gives the gift of free in-flight WiFi

This holiday season, Delta has partnered up with eBay and Gogo to offer travelers 30 minutes of free in-flight wireless Internet on all WiFi-enabled aircraft through January 2.

Connecting is super simple: just open your browser, enter your email address on the promotional page, click the “Give Me Free WiFi” button, and boom — enough free connectivity to check your email and reconfirm your hotel reservation.

While outside websites will shut off after the first half hour, web surfers can continue to shop on and interact with throughout the course of the flight, a part of the promotion obviously geared toward last minute holiday shoppers.

Delta currently has more than 2,500 daily flights on WiFi-outfitted planes, and inflight wireless service generally costs around $12 for a 24-hour pass. Let’s hope next year they feel extra generous and grant us free connections all year ’round.

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.

How to get free WiFi on your holiday flights!

One of the best innovations in travel over the past year has been the roll-out of wireless Internet access on flights. It has allowed us to check e-mail, get work done, and update our Facebook status, all at 35,000 feet. What cold be better? It truly is a wonder of modern technology on par with the Hubble Telescope and the Large Hadron Collider.

Fortunately, if you’re traveling this holiday season, there is a good chance you’ll get to test it out for yourself, and for no cost. Our pals over at Gizmodo have the scoop on how you can gain access to free inflight WiFi at least through the end of the year, thanks to some well timed promotional codes that may have been delivered by Santa himself.

According to Giz, the following codes will work through Dec. 31st. If you are flying Delta, then use DELTATRYGOGO, if you’re trip is booked with AirTran, then AIRTRANTRYGOGO should gain you access, and finally, if you’re on American Airlines, then give AATRYGOGO a shot. If for some reason you have issues with those codes, Gizmodo has a few other promotional codes , that are good through January 7, you can try as well. Travelers flying on Virgin America don’t even need a code at all, as they have partnered with Google to offer free inflight WiFi until January 15th.
And before you head out for the airport, be sure to check out Jaunted’s awesome Inflight WiFi Guide, which offers a quick and easy way of determining your chances of having Internet access on your upcoming trip and how much it’ll cost you if you do. Not all airlines have installed the service as of yet, and others are still rolling it out, so it’s nice to know ahead of time if it is even an option.

A big thank you to Gizmodo and Jaunted for sharing this information. It’ll definitely come in hand for many of us over the next few weeks.