AirTran Launches Wi-Fi Services

By | May 12, 2009
Logo of AirTran Airways, a subsidiary of AirTr...
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We’ve stayed somewhat quiet about wi-fi of late. Every morning we get a notice via Twitter from Alaska about which flights have wi-fi that day, and we admit we haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing wi-fi at 30,000 feet, but we are looking forward to it.

AirTran announced plans to become the first large U.S. carrier to offer wireless internet service on all 136 of its aircraft. Asked why they would make this investment, the airline’s CEO commented:

“We think this is going to become a necessity” for airlines, Some carriers have it on some flights. We’re going to offer passengers certainty, and I think that will give us a leg up.”

The rollout should be completed by late July. AirTran’s rival, Delta Air Lines, by comparison, offers wi-fi on about half of its 300 mainline jets that are used on domestic routes, and plans to have it on all mainline aircraft by September. This does leave out their regional partners, but as these aircraft only operate under the Delta name, we are not holding out for wi-fi on them anytime soon.

Most reports seem to indicate bandwidth is good on these systems, with a priority on web and email. Any passenger using more bandwidth, ie watching video, will be given a lower priority for that, ensuring that the pie is evenly divided., surf, and use Hulu and Youtube sparingly.

It seems airlines better jump on the bandwagon. Soon, if you don’t have a TV at every seat and wi-fi on the plane, you’ll be at a disadvantage. Which will likely produce the next round of discount leisure airlines, who don’t equip with such and try to use that to brand themselves as no-frills and claim lower fares. Stay tuned.

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