When it comes to offering WiFi in the sky, airlines enjoy a situational monopoly. Still, this takes the cake: A Singapore Airlines passenger stepped off a plane, looked at his phone and discovered a bill for $1,171.46.
During the heyday of industrial and manufacturing economy, what mattered was the brand. Today, what matters is the complete experience, one that hides technology, infrastructure and complexity and in the process creates a bond between us and the product.
Apple’s presence in the aircraft that crisscross our skies is doing well, thanks to the iPad. It is not only being used by airline staff at United to replace paper manuals and charts but is also being tested by Qantas to replace existing in-flight entertainment options.
Virgin America was the first U.S. airline to add in-flight Wi-Fi. Now the tech-savvy Bay Area–based airline is taking it up a notch by announcing it plans to make some Wi-Fi connectivity available through its soon-to-be-upgraded seat-back entertainment system, starting sometime in 2012.
New Jersey’s Tax Court recently ruled that Maryland-based Telebright Corporation was required to file New Jersey Corporation Business Tax returns when the firm’s only link to New Jersey was its employment of a telecommuter there. The decision has both positive and negative implications for telework:
I was seriously thinking about giving up on United Airlines and my accumulated miles in favor of Virgin America for my transcontinental needs. After all, the idea of getting Internet access — however expensive it might be — when flying back and forth from New York made Virgin more appealing than free upgrades from United. Well, now I don’t have to do that. United will offer Aircell’s Gogo in-flight Internet access starting sometime in the second quarter of 2009. The service will be available to United customers traveling between New York’s JFK Airport and Los Angeles and San Francisco for a flat fee of $12.95. Gogo is now available on five North American airlines.
Updated: You just can’t keep the American urge to be productive down. Literally. That’s why in-flight Wi-Fi services get tech journalists and business travelers all excited, even as Congress tries to ban those pesky mobile phone calls on planes. I kind of like being forced to read a book, but the siren song of a blog post will surely lead me to seek out in-flight Wi-Fi on my next trip to San Francisco. Please raise your seats backs to the upright position and check out our list of in-flight broadband options:
- Today Delta is announcing in-flight Wi-Fi for all of its U.S. flights using the Gogo service from Aircell. The service will cost $9.95 for a flight that’s three hours or less and $12.95 for flights that are more than three hours (Aircell’s set rate). As direct flights decrease, many travelers will likely get stuck paying twice – -for each leg of the flight — but if I can watch Hulu instead of the in-flight movie it might be worth it. Wait, I’m supposed to be working. A Delta spokesman says the service will debut on East Coast flights first and cover the Delta fleet by mid-2009.
- American Airlines said in August of 2007 that it would provide in-fight Wi-Fi to folks traveling on jets used mostly on transcontinental routes. Last month it said it would trial the service (it’s also using Aircell) in 15 jets. It has tested the service on flights traveling from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco as well as on New York and Miami flights.
- Virgin America offers in-flight Wi-Fi on transcontinental flights via Aircell as well, and is still in the testing phase. Update: Virgin says they will have Wi-Fi for customers (the crew already has it) on several planes by the end of the year and fleet wide by the end of March 2009. Pricing has yet to be determined.
- Southwest Airlines is planning satellite-based Wi-Fi on four of its planes this summer, but we’re still waiting to hear more details.