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In-Flight Broadband Cheat Sheet

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Updated: You just can’t keep the American urge to be productive down. Literally. That’s why in-flight Wi-Fi services get tech journalists and business travelers all excited, even as Congress tries to ban those pesky mobile phone calls on planes. I kind of like being forced to read a book, but the siren song of a blog post will surely lead me to seek out in-flight Wi-Fi on my next trip to San Francisco. Please raise your seats backs to the upright position and check out our list of in-flight broadband options:

  • Today Delta is announcing in-flight Wi-Fi for all of its U.S. flights using the Gogo service from Aircell. The service will cost $9.95 for a flight that’s three hours or less and $12.95 for flights that are more than three hours (Aircell’s set rate). As direct flights decrease, many travelers will likely get stuck paying twice – -for each leg of the flight — but if I can watch Hulu instead of the in-flight movie it might be worth it. Wait, I’m supposed to be working. A Delta spokesman says the service will debut on East Coast flights first and cover the Delta fleet by mid-2009.
  • American Airlines said in August of 2007 that it would provide in-fight Wi-Fi to folks traveling on jets used mostly on transcontinental routes. Last month it said it would trial the service (it’s also using Aircell) in 15 jets. It has tested the service on flights traveling from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco as well as on New York and Miami flights.
  • Virgin America offers in-flight Wi-Fi on transcontinental flights via Aircell as well, and is still in the testing phase. Update: Virgin says they will have Wi-Fi for customers (the crew already has it) on several planes by the end of the year and fleet wide by the end of March 2009. Pricing has yet to be determined.
  • Southwest Airlines is planning satellite-based Wi-Fi on four of its planes this summer, but we’re still waiting to hear more details.

14 Responses to “In-Flight Broadband Cheat Sheet”

  1. Seems a bit pricing, may have the similar fate of airplane phones. Perhaps airline greed will stop people from using a good service.
    Now if they offered to let me use my laptop during taxing, and landing, that perhaps I would use and pay this much. I travel between Bay Area and Seattle all the time and in this short 2 hour flight, at least 45 minutes are blackout period. $9.95 for 1 hour is too much.

  2. Stacey Higginbotham

    True, but no one was giving out data on the throughputs yet. Virgin and Delta said it should resemble existing Wi-Fi connection, but that varies depending on the internet service and version of Wi-Fi. Will add info if I find out from Aircell or a carrier.

  3. Jesse Kopelman


    It should be a little better than typical 3G. Using it for Hulu seems unlikely, although probably possible if you are the only one on the flight trying to do any streaming. E-mail, web browsing, and IM, are really more the target apps.