The Wi-Fi-in-the-Sky Wars

Travel Blog  •  Rob Verger  •  05.15.09 | 10:46 AM ET

Photo by Marc Smith, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

AirTran fired off a powerful volley this week in the competition between airlines to provide wireless internet access on flights. It kicked the service off with a flight on Tuesday, and says that all 136 of its planes will have Wi-Fi by the end of July, making it, as USA Today reports, “the first large U.S. airline to offer wireless Internet access on every flight nationwide.”

As Ben Mutzabaugh put it in another story in the same paper, “AirTran’s promotional flight points up how fast airlines are racing to provide Wi-Fi capability on their planes after experimenting with it for more than a year.”

American Airlines and Delta are also outfitting their fleets with Wi-Fi capability; United plans to start equipping their planes “later this year,” according to USA Today.

Here’s a quick look at the status of some other airlines that are doing so:

I can’t wait for all of these plans to move forward, and in my ideal world, most if not all flights would offer Wi-Fi. Of course, it would be great if it were always free, too, but as unbundling and a la carte pricing trends go, I don’t see that happening. (A good example of pricing for this is from Virgin America, which will charge $12.95 for daytime flights that are longer than three hours. Shorter flights, red-eye flights, and using handheld devices will cost less.)

And speaking of wireless communication from high above the Earth: Has anyone else been following @Astro_Mike on Twitter? Mike Massimino, an astronaut on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis, which is currently servicing the Hubble telescope, is Twittering from space. Here’s his last update: “From orbit: Rendezvous and grapple were great, getting ready for our first spacewalk[.]”

Rob Verger

Rob Verger is a frequent contributor to World Hum and the site's former air travel blogger. His articles and photographs have appeared in the Boston Globe and other publications, and he's a former undergraduate writing instructor at Columbia University. If you like, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or follow him on Twitter.

1 Comment for The Wi-Fi-in-the-Sky Wars

dj 05.17.09 | 10:01 PM ET

American has had wireless service available on select routes for at least 9 months.  Works great, so cool!!!

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