March 31, 2009
American Airlines to Bring WiFi to 300 U.S. Planes
By Michael Dinan, TMCnet Editor
In a nod to the prevalence of Internet-ready mobile devices and stronger wireless services, major U.S. airline announced today that it’s poised to offer WiFi (News - Alert) on 300 domestic aircraft over the next two years.
Officials at American Airlines say so-called “Gogo Inflight Internet” services from Aircell will bolster similar offerings that have been available since last summer on 15 of their 767-200 planes, mostly on nonstop flights between New York JFK and San Francisco and Los Angeles and Miami.
According to Dan Garton, American’s executive vice president of marketing, the airline has conducted a trial over the past six months, offering customers the choice to remain connected when flying on American Airlines.
The trial “gave us the ability to study customers’ willingness to take advantage of high-speed, onboard connectivity and to gauge how the service performed technically in a variety of settings over an extended period of time,” Garton said. “We are pleased that the results were positive and that we have decided to move forward.”
The news from American should be welcomed by business travelers, as more and more airlines expand WiFi capabilities to keep up with growing demand among workers with mobile Web-ready iPhones, smartphones, Netbooks and other devices.
As TMCnet reported late last year, Virgin America launched its own Gogo Inflight Internet Nov. 24. Delta also is using the Gogo service from Aircell. It costs $9.95 on flights of three hours or less, and $12.95 on flights of more than three hours.
By the second quarter of this year, Virgin says it expects to offer Wi-Fi on its entire fleet of planes.
American today is introducing what it calls the “Mobile Flight Pass.” For $7.95, it brings WiFi services to anyone using a handheld device on Gogo-equipped flights of any length.
Aircell’s president and chief executive officer, Jack Blumenstein, said the passenger response to Gogo Inflight Internet has exceeded his our own high expectations.
“We are excited to help American Airlines expand Gogo to the majority of its domestic fleet, enabling more of its passengers to turn flying time into ‘me time,’ ” Blumenstein said. “With Gogo, flying becomes whatever you want it to be – productive, entertaining, informative, you name it.”
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Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Michael Dinan