American Airlines says it will install Gogo Aircell wi-fi on more than 300 domestic aircraft over the next two years. The airline had been using the system in a trial stage on some flights since last August on 15 Boeing 767-200s, primarily on nonstop flights between JFK and San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Miami.
American says it will install the Aircell system on its domestic MD-80 and Boeing 737-800 aircraft fleets, beginning with 150 MD-80s this year.
The system lets passengers (for a fee, see below) access the the Internet using personal Wi-Fi-enabled devices, including laptops, smartphones and PDAs. Gogo uses the Aircell air-to-ground system, enabled by three small antennas installed outside the aircraft. Aircell's price for the Gogo service ranges from $7.95 to $12.95 based on length of flight and whether the device is a handheld PDA or a laptop computer. Prices:
* Long Flight Pass: $12.95 - Standard price for flights longer than 3 hours
* Short Flight Pass: $9.95 - Standard price for flights 3 hours or less
* Mobile Flight Pass: $7.95 - Mobile device pricing for customers using a handheld device on Gogo-equipped flights of any length
Cell phone and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service use will not be available, American said.
As I have long noted, airlines moving into this brave new world of inflight connectivity remain very worried about the CAP (Cellphone A------ Potential). That's the worry that voice-enabled inflight connectivity through various systems like Skype will allow various idiots to drive everyone else crazy braying into their cellphones in a very confined space with people packed shoulder to shoulder, hurtling through the sky. Thank you, American, for simply not giving in to the CAP. So far.