Tuesday, May 12, 2009

AirTran Airways to offer Wi-Fi on every flight!

AirTranWell, someone had to do it and it looks like it's going to be AirTran Airways. They announced May 12, 2009 that they will be the first major airline to offer passengers wireless broadband Internet access on every flight.

AirTran Airways is partnering with Aircell, the leader in airborne communications for business and commercial aviation, to offer passengers full inflight Internet service across its entire fleet of Boeing 737 and 717 aircraft. All 136 AirTran Airways jets will be fully outfitted with Gogo® Inflight Internet service by mid-summer.

This is a big deal.  In my opinion, the ultimate form of inflight entertainment is where you are in control of the content. What better way to take control of your content than to base it around what you can do with the Internet.

So, what are the boundaries of the AirTran offfering?  According to the airline, "passengers will have full Internet access including: Web, e-mail, instant messaging and access to corporate e-mail and network systems (virtual private networks) – through their Wi-Fi enabled laptops, smartphones and personal digital assistants (PDAs)."

Sounds pretty good, right?  There must be a catch?  Well, there is a fee but I wouldn't call that a catch.  The GoGo service will be available "for a small fee" based on flight length.  That seems reasonable as long as the fee is not exorbitant. I guess the market will define what that level is.

GoGo is the Aircell product that turns the aircraft into a Wi-Fi hotspot, just exactly what I want to see to take control of my own inflight entertainment. Oh, and do a bit of business work too.

Nice job AirTran!

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