Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Airlines are making a big WiFi push - horrrayy!

Apparently airlines are looking for ways to create extra income, and they feel charging customers for WiFi service will benefit their shrinking bottom line.   I agree.

So far WiFi is available on at least 711 commercial planes here in America.  8 arilines have deals with AirCell to offer it's Gogo service in flight for around the cost of $4.95 to $12.95 depending on the flight.  Delta is leading the way in WiFi'ing their planes with over 355 planes capable of allowing you to Facebook at 30,000 feet.
Travelers, at least so far, are more accepting of WiFi 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 and seem to be willing to pay for it.    Typical bandwidth speeds are around 500 and 600 Kbps.  (faster than dial up but slower than typical at home cable modem speeds) do they do that?   Gogo Company uses the cell phone signals WAY underneath you to provide the service on the plane.  They're like the towers on the ground for your cell phone but these towers point to the big blue skies so YOU can Google away.  Another company, Row 44, uses satellite service ABOVE you for connection and the planes get an antenna installed on top the plane to pick up those signals.   Neat-o!

Some day this revenue stream may wear out as travelers will come to expect it for free.  Many hotels across the country are already dropping WiFi costs to attract guests.   How long will it take before the airlines will do the same?  2-3 years?

So in the mean time, are YOU willing to pay to stay in touch and avoid that flight boredom?


  1. I'm not sure I'd pay to use it. Most apps have made it very easy to work while not connected, which makes it possible to stay busy. We're a very connected household - have more computers and internet connections that people & pets, but we can do without it for a few hours. For the business traveler who must get things done however, I do think it's a good option. Great article!

  2. Thank you for your comments and insight Mellisa. I have apps on my I-phone that I enjoy but honestly, I need my WiFI.

    I'm willing to pay. Plus you can check weather for your destination, check the news and keep in touch with your friends that are 30,000 feet beneath you.


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