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]

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.

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.