Airlines making a big push to offer in-flight Wi-Fi service

Feb 17, 2010 By Richard Newman

In-flight Wi-Fi, the next big-fee income generator for airlines, is available so far on 711 commercial aircraft, and the number is growing. Eight airlines, so far, have deals with technology provider Aircell to offer its Gogo in-flight service for $4.95 per flight segment and up, based on the length of the trip.

The service lets passengers with laptops and smart phones surf the Web, read and send e-mail, and access corporate networks.

"It's going to become universal," said Jay Sorenson, president of the Wisconsin-based airline consulting firm IdeaWorks. "Wireless connection has become imperative for a lot of people."

Travelers, at least so far, are more accepting of fees than they are of the bag-check fees that have been squeezing them. "People recognize the technological complexity of offering decent Wi-Fi service at 30,000 feet," Sorenson said.

Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition, said he has used Gogo recently and he was glad to pay the fee on a 6:10 a.m. flight on Friday to Atlanta from San Antonio. It saved him about two hours' sleep.

"I set my alarm for 4 a.m. and I was able to do my Travelogue in the air," he said. "Otherwise, I would have had to set it for 2 or 2:15." Mitchell's Travelogue is an aggregation of links to the day's online travel news, which he e-mails on most weekdays to his group's members.

Mitchell flew on AirTran Airways, which has Gogo on all of its 138 . Virgin America also has it on its entire fleet of 28 planes.

All of the big network carriers have started retrofitting aircraft to offer it, said Aircell spokeswoman Jessica Anselmi.

is leading the way with Wi-Fi on 355 aircraft, with 200 more planes scheduled to be equipped this year. so far offers Wi-Fi on 150 MD-80 aircraft and on 15 Boeing 767-200 aircraft. United Airlines has it on 13 aircraft. expects that 50 of its A321 aircraft will be Gogo-equipped this year. Continental Airlines will offer Gogo on 21 Boeing 757-300s that primarily serve domestic routes, beginning in the second quarter.

Aircell said last month it raised $176 million in new financing for "network expansion and operating needs."

For the airlines, the revenue-sharing arrangements with Aircell will probably not be as lucrative as the baggage fees, Sorenson said. As more hotels and airports drop Wi-Fi charges to meet customer expectations, airlines may eventually come under pressure to offer free Wi-Fi as well, he said.

"Airline executives live in fear of that potential," he said.

Explore further: For top broadband policy, look no further than Canada

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Wi-Fi for travelers becomes Web marketing lure

Nov 10, 2009

(AP) -- Google, Yahoo, eBay and Microsoft, competitors on the Web, all have the same idea for marketing themselves this holiday season: temporarily providing free Wi-Fi access in airports, airplanes and public places.

Verizon gives free Wi-Fi to Internet customers

Jul 27, 2009

(AP) -- Verizon is giving some of its home broadband customers free access to thousands of Wi-Fi hotspots in airports and other public places, taking a page from competitors that already offer wireless Internet access.

iPass Wi-Fi Network Access in the Sky

Aug 24, 2004

Connexion by Boeing, a business unit of The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA), and iPass Inc. (NASDAQ: IPAS) today announced an agreement to deliver iPass enterprise customers secure in-flight Wi-Fi Internet connectivity. Through the agreement iPass users will have ...

Recommended for you

Bringing emergency communications together

9 hours ago

A new University of Adelaide research project aims to improve emergency operations through integrated communications systems for police and the emergency services.

For top broadband policy, look no further than Canada

Aug 20, 2014

You might have seen communications minister Malcolm Turnbull raising the issue about Australian press not discussing policy problems and solutions from overseas, in a speech delivered at the Lowy Institute Media Awards last week: ...

Cities, states face off on municipal broadband

Aug 19, 2014

Wilson, N.C., determined nearly a decade ago that high-speed Internet access would be essential to the community's social and economic health in the 21st century, just as electricity, water and sewers were in the previous ...

New loss mechanism for global 4G roaming

Aug 19, 2014

A loss mechanism that has not been an issue in previous mobile handset antennas will become important for global 4G roaming, according to results of experiments carried out in Aalborg, Denmark.

User comments : 0