American Airlines bringing in-flight Internet to more domestic flights

There is no denying it – in-flight Internet is here to stay. The popularity of being able to get some work (or fun) done during your flight helped make in-flight WiFi one of the winners of the 2008 Engadget awards.

This morning, American Airlines announced their commitment to the service by revealing plan to bring the Gogo in-flight Internet service to 300 of its domestic planes.

American Airlines has been testing the service, and has installed it on 15 planes, Passenger feedback has been so positive that 150 of their MD-80’s will be outfitted with the equipment this year, and another 150 planes next year.

Getting online costs just $9.95 for flights 3 hours or less, and $12.95 for longer flights. Recently, Gogo introduced a new price plan for users with a handheld device or smartphone – they can now get online for just $7.95.

I took the Gogo service for a spin last year, and as far as I cam concerned, it can’t can’t come fast enough on every plane in the country.

Ryanair introduces in-air mobile phone calls on select routes

Last year, Ryanair optimistically announced that they were just “weeks” away from launching their in-air mobile phone and data service.

It took a little longer than planned, but the first 20 planes are now equipped with the gear needed to let passengers annoy their fellow passengers with their mindnumming phone conversations.

The 20 planes are all on routes to and from Dublin, and the service allows passengers to make and receive phone calls, send and receive text messages, and transmit data.

Thankfully, the in-air prices are so high, that most people will probably keep their calls to a simple “hi mom, I’m in the air”.

Calls will cost between €2 and €3 per minute, and data is a staggering €1.50 per 100KB (about the size of a basic email). For comparison – a 3 hour broadband WiFi session on Virgin America costs under $10.

Of course, the whole thing is rather ironic, since we have been told for years that keeping your phone on may result in the plane crashing and killing everyone. That was of course until the airlines learned they could make money off your calls. Then it was suddenly no problem.

Jeffrey covered a different angle of in-flight mobile phones today; the mobile phone in the cockpit. Of course, the issue here is not interference from signals, but the interference from a ringing phone during critical portions of the flight.

I’m pretty much addicted to my mobile phone, but even I think filling a low cost carrier plane with 100 chatting passengers will eventually result in someone having to have their mobile phone surgically removed.

Southwest Airlines joins the “superskyway” with inflight Internet trials

Southwest Airlines just announced their first inflight WiFi trial. The service is installed on one of their 540 planes, with an additional 3 planes to be equipped by March.

Access is provided by Row 44 – who opted for a satellite-to-plane system, unlike the technology in use by Aircell who use a ground-to-plane system.

In addition to the inflight internet access, Southwest also partnered with Yahoo! to create a custom homepage for each flight. The page contains destination information, a live route map as well as a collection of Yahoo! games.

Southwest is the last of the major carriers to commit to bringing wireless Internet access to their fleet, but as the largest US carrier (in terms of passenger numbers), I’m sure a commitment like this is not something you do overnight.

The Southwest Airlines inflight Internet service has not yet received FCC approval, and no pricing has been determined. During the trial, passengers can connect to the service for free. Any WiFi enabled device should be able to get online during the flight, including laptops, iPhones and any other smartphone.

Pretty soon the news we post about airborne Internet will be about the airlines that do not offer this service. Oh, and just so we are clear about something, the term “Superskyway” is theirs – not mine!

(Via: Southwest Airlines blog)

Big news in inflight Internet – United Airlines and Aircell ink deal

Great news from the world of inflight Internet access – United Airlines just committed to adding the Aircell Gogo broadband service to their fleet.

The first planes to benefit from the service are the 13 Boeing 757’s that operate on the United Airlines p.s. routes, from New York JFK to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

United Airlines is the fifth airline to sign a deal with Aircell. Previously American Airlines, Delta, Virgin America and Air Canada decided to offer the service to their passengers, and several of these airlines are already in fairly advanced stages of rolling things out to their entire fleet.

The Aircell Gogo service will be available on these United Airlines planes in the second half of 2009. Access is just $12.95 for the duration of the flight, which is a real bargain considering p.s. flights are all trans-continental.

Once the service comes to other routes, passengers on shorter trips can access the service for $9.95 if their flight is under 3 hours.

We took the Gogo service for a spin on Virgin America back in November, and I was very impressed with the speed, and ease of use. As someone who lives in a United hub city, a fleetwide rollout can’t come fast enough for me.

The addition of United Airlines means that Aircell has managed to sign contracts with most of the major carriers in the US, an amazing achievement in just 12 months.