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)

Flight attendants to become the porn police

Back in December, when Aaron posted about the etiquette questions raised by In-flight Internet, he wrote the prevailing thought was that “decency, good sense and normal behavior” would prevail.

According to this article at, just in case decency, good sense and normal behavior go out the window, flight attendants will become the porn police.

I imagine that while the flight attendant is taking your money for your snack and beverage that used to be complimentary, but isn’t anymore, he or she can give a peek at your screen to see what you’re surfing and shut you down if you forget you’re not in the comfort of your own home or tucked back in your office cubicle.

If your neighbor is getting grossed out or upset by your viewing, the flight attendant will appear to put an end to the shenanigans.

Some airlines, the article reports, will put a block on sites which should give the attendants a break so they can do other important tasks like make sure they give back correct change when you purchase water so you won’t die of thirst before the flight ends.

Airlines that either do or will filter sites when Internet is made available: JetBlue Airways, Continental and Qantas.

Airlines that will or already do let you surf without a filter, and hope that you use common sense when you do so: Northwest, American, Delta, Alaskan Airlines and Virgin.

Here are concerns being raised: What is pornography or not appropriate content and under what circumstances? Different people have different lenses with which they view what is appropriate. Here are two examples given:

  • A child sitting next to a person watching an R-rated movie that is either sexually explicit or violent
  • A person surfing a Victoria Secret lingerie catalog could be disconcerting as well.

As the article also points out, the reason why these issues are felt so strongly when people fly is that they are confined and can not escape from what is distasteful. You can’t move seats and you can’t get off.

Although flight attendants are trained to deal with conflict, as you may have noticed if you read Gadling comments whenever a flight issue is posed, there are a lot of stresses from flying as it is. It seems to me that Internet may be great to have, but could be adding more trouble than it’s worth.

Aircell Gogo inflight Internet service goes live on American Airlines

Several weeks ago, I reported that Delta Airlines was gearing up to offer the Aircell Gogo inflight Internet service, but it is American Airlines who beat them to the first operational service.

Aircell Gogo is now offered on select American Airlines Boeing 767-200 flights between New York and San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles and New York and Miami. This puts the total number of flights with the Gogo Internet service at 174 per week.

For just $12.95, passengers get unlimited access to the Internet, but Aircell points out that VOIP (Internet calling) and cell phone calls are not possible.

To use the service, you’ll need a Wi-Fi capable laptop, PDA or smartphone, you can find a comprehensive list of supported devices on the Gogo site. If you plan to travel light, you’ll be able to use your Wi-Fi enabled Blackberry, iPhone or iPod touch to get online, which should help keep you entertained for the duration of the flight.

Aircell is working on a very swift roll out of their service, in addition to American Airlines and the previously mentioned Delta rollout, they are also working to bring inflight Internet to Virgin America.

This service has all the key features of a successful product; it is affordable, it comes at a time where airlines are scrambling to generate some more revenue, and the market penetration of Wi-Fi enabled devices is larger than ever. My feeling is that it will be a huge success, and certainly more successful than previous attempts at airborne broadband.

Source (and image) from Gogo Inflight Internet