Internet: An airline extra that might be worth paying for

American Airlines may have actually come up with a way to make more money without ticking people off. Instead of charging for a service that used to be free–did anyone say checked bags?–the airline is piloting a system to charge passengers for Internet privileges.

Yep, that’s right. While you’re winging your way through the skies, you can log on. Need to e-mail? No problem.

You’ll also be able to instant message, download videos, and connect to a smart phone through a secured network using your own laptop.

Passengers on one lucky flight today from Kennedy in New York to Los Angeles and a flight from Los Angeles to New York will be able to test the service for free.

In a couple of weeks, American will expand broadband to other flights on Boeing 767-200 jets. Flights to San Francisco and Miami are next.

These Internet capabilities are being developed through a partnership with Aircell LLC. Aircell’s network is large enough to handle a whole plane load of Web surfers.

Knowing that you need to diversify in business, Aircell is also working out details with JetBlue and Virgin America for similar services.

American Airline’s latest money scheme is one I like. Adding a new service and charging for it instead of wringing money out of folks who used to get the same thing for free seems smarter. The price isn’t bad either. Internet will cost between $9.95 and $12.95 depending on the length of the flight.

And in case you’re wondering about the chances of pornography showing up on the screen next to you–or on yours, not a chance–at least not much of one. According to the article, the flight attendant will stop the funny business. There are already policies against bringing pornography on the plane. The same applies to Internet, even though such sites won’t be filtered out . Blocking them might disrupt service. Mind your manners, and the skies will stay friendly. [via AP]

Save $20 on your next Jetblue flight

Summer fares can be a killer, especially in this new world of cost-cutting airlines and ultra sensitive passengers. So I suppose its worth mentioning the recent Amex/Jetblue promotion that’s running where you can save 20$ per flight over this summer.

No, not a ridiculous fare sale or wonderful revelation. But a few extra bucks in your pocket for your summertime flight never hurts. Maybe you can use it for four extra shots of tequila at JFK airport before you get on your transcontinental flight and realize that you just spent a month’s rent on the ticket. It might help soften the blow (Tip: any tequila with red plastic hat on the bottle is a good call).

To book your ticket, use your American Express card on the Myvacation page to book your ticket. Itineraries must be booked before July 31 for travel up to August 28th.

Watch the World Series Aboard a Frontier Airlines Flight?

If you can’t stand missing the World Series, but you absolutely must travel during one of the games, don’t fret just yet. If Frontier Airlines is flying to your destination, you may just be in luck — and you might want to book your ticket now. The Denver-based airline is negotiating with DirectTV for permission to show the series on its flights if the Rockies are playing. The airline, which shows the Super Bowl every year in-flight, is making sure it has rights to air live TV.

JetBlue will also be showing the World Series (no matter who’s playing — go Sox!).

[via USA Today]

Travel Woes: Avoid Connecting Flights

A friend of mine and a serious global traveler had the trip that almost turned her off air travel all together–and she’s a former pilot.

These are the details that I remember from what she recently told me about her return trip from Iceland to Columbus, Ohio. Her nightmare started at JFK airport.

Thunderstorms had paralyzed flights, thus hers to Columbus was canceled. But, feeling optimistic , she thought she might be able to hook up with a Jet Blue flight and headed to the Jet Blue terminal. No luck there either. In her quest for a flight, she left the security area of her terminal and couldn’t get back in. Then she looked for another terminal where she could park herself for the night since all airport hotels were booked. No such luck there either. That one closed for cleaning and she was kicked out to the curb again. After another bout of terminal hopping, she found a chair where she could settle in for the rest of the night.

The next day she was able to book a hotel room since finding a flight wasn’t happening. Booked solid. She arrived in Columbus on Friday, almost two days after she was supposed to have arrived.

At 4 AM Saturday morning she received a call from the luggage courier who couldn’t find her house. Before dawn she was reunited with her belongings.

If you haven’t noticed, she didn’t get any help from the airline except for the rebooking of her flight on the next available flight two days later. The airline wasn’t obligated to do more. The delay was caused by weather.

The flights were full because all flights are full these days. In her words, this summer is a mess. If one thing goes wrong, the whole system slides into chaos.

She also didn’t have a cell phone. Since she was traveling internationally, she left hers at home. Also, there wasn’t any information to be found on where to get hotels outside of the airport.

Her bit of advice after this fiasco was, whenever possible, fly direct and fly early in the day. Connections mean trouble and flying late in the day means there is no wiggle room when flights get delayed. Here is an article by Sharyn Alden that gives some other tips for avoiding air travel woes.

JetBlue Celebrates 7th Anniversary With Giveaways

Last year, JetBlue Airways created quite a stir when it announced plans to remove a row of seats from each of its Airbus A320s, giving passengers several more inches of leg room to stretch into.

This week, JetBlue will celebrate its 7th anniversary with daily prize giveaways in its “Seven Year Stretch” instant-win game. Each day, the airline will give away prizes that help people to “stretch out” or relax. For example, prizes include La-Z-Boy recliners, spa certificates, and roundtrip airfare. Unfortunately, I don’t think JetBlue can manage to get you a day off work.

Entering the contest is easy. First, ff you’re not a member of TrueBlue, JetBlue’s customer loyalty program, you need to sign up, which is free and takes about 1 minute. Once you’re a member, you just visit the website, complete the simple entry form, and click the “Enter Me For A Chance To Win” button. If you receive a winning prize message, you’re an instant winner. If you don’t receive a winning message (like me!), then rest easy: there’s always tomorrow. And happily, the prizes keep getting better all week long.