Tuesday, March 31, 2009

American Airlines Expanding Inflight Wi-Fi

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.


1 comment:

Glenn Fleishman said...

Every airline and Internet system operator I've spoken to for various articles over the last few years is pretty adamant that they will take every effort to prevent voice calls/chats/what have you from happening over U.S. skies. Passenger surveys are pretty clear: the vast majority of U.S. passengers don't want to be stuck next to a yakker.

Contrast that with RyanAir, which has its fleet finally underway with OnAir's service for mobile text/email and calling. We'll see how that pans out. The British aren't unlike Americans in their need for privacy, but I suspect on RyanAir's typically short flights it's just not as big an issue.