American Airlines allows passengers to use in-flight Wi-Fi for first time

Passengers on a specific American Airlines flight between JFK International Airport in New York and Los Angeles International Airport will be the first American Airlines passengers to actually use the AirCell in-flight broadband Internet service.

American Airlines and AirCell say that the service on the flight will be offered for free in a large-scale test of how the internet access will be used and how well it performs. The Dallas Morning News reports that American Airlines is also considering the expansion of AirCell broadband connectivity beyond its Boeing 767-200 planes.

American Airlines currently has a fleet of 15 767-200 aircraft. American and AirCell are going to share profits from the internet service. The revenue will be a welcome addition to the bottom line for American in a time when fuel costs are at record highs and the airline industry is looking to new methods of offsetting fuel costs.

The AirCell Gogo service will normally cost passengers on American Airlines flights offering the service $12.95 on flights over three hours and $9.95 for shorter flights. The airline also says that while users will be able to download videos and large documents the AirCell system will prioritize data flow so a few users eating lots of bandwidth won’t make it impossible for other passengers to do things like check email. The AirCell service will allow users VPN access to corporate networks and to use chat programs on both laptops and other connected devices like Blackberry’s.

American Airlines first announced it would offer in-flight Wi-Fi service in August of 2007. AirCell and competitor JetBlue won licenses for in-flight Wi-Fi in June of 2006.

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