More on In-Flight Wi-Fi

By | August 26, 2009
In Flight Service - Virgin America

In Flight Service - Virgin America

A lot happened while we were away. As we said in our Virgin America trip report, Every Plane should have In-Flight Wi-Fi. But, we felt there were a few things we didn’t mention during the trip report. There was actually a lot we didn’t mention. We wanted to touch on everything, but we’ve left a lot of goodies should we want to revisit it.

Southwest, an airline we were disappointed didn’t roll out a wi-fi enabled plane when they sent us off on their inaugural flight from New York to Chicago, announced on Friday that they have concluded their testing of wi-fi on a few planes and will be moving to the next step, beginning fleetwide rollout of the Row 44 satellite service in the first quarter of next year. Row 44 apparently offers more bandwidth than the Gogo In Flight solution.

Southwest is still testing price points for its service, between $2 ad $12 depending on type of device and duration of flight.

A recent survey found that 80 percent of business travelers like the idea of getting their work done on the plane, and thus like wi-fi.

There are a few tips that are provided for those enjoying their computer onboard.

  • 49 Percent of Passengers admit to Sneaking a Peak at their Neighbor’s Screen. If you are concerned about confidential information, consider a privacy filter.
  • Dim the Screen – Not only will it help conserve battery life if there are no power ports on your plane, but it will help you avoid annoying those around you with the glare.
  • Bring a Splitter/Share the Power – While some planes are equipped with power, there may not be enough outlets to go around. Be prepared.

The biggest problem is that with the seat pitch average on airplanes, it is hard to fully open a notebook and see it clearly when the person in front of you opts to recline. That is why we switched to a netbook for travel. A 10″ screen and mini-keyboard is much easier to open on a plane. We wonder if the manufacturers of notebooks have any ideas.

US Airways is the latest carrier to say it will add wi-fi. It announced at the beginning of August that it will install Gogo In Flight on its Airbus 321s on selected routes. Delta announced on Thursday that it has installed wi-fi on 70% of its domestic mainline fleet. The designs for installation on the A320 and A319 fleets have been completed, The prototypes will go in for modification in October. All MD-88s and MD-90s are equipped, along with a variety of 757-200s.

Prices for Gogo InFlight are:

  • $5.95 for a single flight up to 1.5 hours
  • $9.95 for a single flight up to 3.0 hours
  • $12.95 for a single flight over 3.0 hours
  • $7.95 for a Mobile Device on any length flight over 1.5 hours
  • $12.95 for a 24-hour unlimited pass on one airline
  • $49.95 for a 30-day pass on a single airline

We, of course, used a 50% off promo code. $6.48 for a transcontinental price is one we could live with. We downloaded a file to test download speeds. Initially, download speeds were at over 100Kb/s, but as more people logged on, it dropped to 20kb/s, which is still a decent speed. We tested a Youtube video as well, and it played with no hiccups. We did not test any HD playback, either there or on Hulu, our usual benchmarks for such things. The truth is, it isn’t there for streaming video. We were quite content with the content we had on our hard drive.

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