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Wifi in the Friendly Skies

by Julie Schwietert Nov 25, 2008

Depending on your point of view, this news will either revolutionize your flight experience or make it even more revolting:

WiFi is now available in the friendly skies.

Late last month, airlines began rolling out on-board wireless internet service for passengers who just can’t bear to be disconnected while in flight.

The service, provided by GoGo Inflight Internet, is currently offered on select Virgin America, American Airlines, and Delta flights originating in New York City and terminating in San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Miami.

Service is also scheduled to become available on certain Air Canada flights in the near future.

As with most amenities on planes these days, in-air WiFi isn’t free, and it comes with some strings attached.

The service is currently provided for $12.95 per flight, and is supported on most handhelds and laptops that meet specific minimum web browser and software requirements (that information can be found here).

For the sake of your fellow passengers, though, certain uses are restricted. Voice over Internet phone (VOIP) service, for example, is blocked. Other audio and video components may be blocked as trial runs of the service provoke customer complaints.

Initial reviews of the service have largely been positive. Blogger Ryan Block tried out the service on Virgin’s inaugural wired flight this weekend, and reported that speed is pretty good.

Yet some tech analysts wonder what kinks will need to be ironed out of the system before it can be implemented on a wider scale, asking, for instance, how service concerns will be addressed.

For now, passengers on the handful of flights offering WiFi are GoGo’s test market. How about you? Are you looking forward to wired flights, or will the skies become less friendly if your fellow passengers are always connected?

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