British Airways will test out in-flight Wi-Fi as well as GSM-based cellular connectivity on some of its flights according to a blog that follows the airline industry. European carriers have been slow to adopt in-flight Wi-Fi, yet between BA and Air France-KLM’s decision to trial the service, it could be that Europe will have a chance to realize what Americans flying domestically already know — in-flight Wi-Fi is pricey and crappy but you’ll use it anyway.
The APEX Editor’s blog wrote the following on Friday:
The London Heathrow-based carrier will begin a 12-month connectivity trial on an unspecified date this year using Panasonic Avionics’ Ku-band satellite-supported Internet system, BA inflight entertainment and technology manager Richard Cruze told the APEX Editor’s Blog yesterday at a media event to mark the arrival of its first Airbus A380.
The post says that BA will experiment with pricing, changing it every quarter, and hopes to use the trial to understand the demand for in-flight Wi-Fi. Unfortunately for those who like to plan ahead, the Wi-Fi is determined by the plane a passenger boards as opposed to the route, so it might be hit or miss.
BA will only add the service to new planes as opposed to retrofitting older ones. The GSM services provided by AeroMobile will not allow voice calls in-flight, easing passenger’s fears that Chatty Cathy might sit down next to them and yak all the way to Malaga. No sure what people will do about in-flight porn however.
Updated at 9:20am: A British Airways spokesman responded to my inquiry about in-flight Wi-Fi saying, “It is early days and we are just investigating the potential of a connectivity trial at the moment. No firm decisions have been made so it would be premature to give further details of any potential trial.” He however, didn’t go as far to say the APEX story or the executive quoted in the story was wrong.