We live in a connected world -- some may say that we all are
too connected when it comes to electronic devices. American Airlines is looking
to satisfy our cravings for "all access anywhere" with in-flight WiFi
beginning this summer.
Southwest is partnering with Row 44 to provide high-speed
satellite Internet access. The airline will equip four of its aircraft with the
service starting in summer 2008.
"Southwest Airlines is pleased to announce its
partnership with Row 44, and we intend to deliver the highest bandwidth
available to commercial airlines in the United States," said Southwest
Senior VP of marketing Dave Ridley. "Southwest's selection of satellite
technology will offer a more robust experience for more Customers per aircraft
versus other solutions available in the marketplace. Southwest is looking for
the best solution for our Customers not only for Internet e-mail access, but
for additional in-flight entertainment as well."
American Airlines will first
roll the service out with its Boeing 767-200 airliners. These large aircraft
typically make long, cross-country flights. After the initial test phase with
the 767s, American Airlines will slowly add WiFi to its entire fleet.
The costs for in-flight WiFi are expected to range from $10
for short flight and up to $12.95 for longer, cross-country flights.
The high-speed Internet will be provided
by AirCell. According to AirCell, the cost of providing Internet
connectivity to a single aircraft is $100,000
USD and adds roughly 100 pounds to the airframe. The equipment can be
installed overnight by airline crews.
Southwest and American Airlines are not alone in their
testing, however. JetBlue is trialing
in-flight WiFi with a single Airbus A320 aircraft dubbed
"BetaBlue." JetBlue's service is also provided by AirCell, but it
will not charge customers for connectivity.