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US Airlines to Start Offering Internet Access on International Flights
As airline competition heats up so do airline advancements in on board entertainment technologies. The most important and widely requested of new in flight innovations is Wi-Fi. Most airlines in the U.S offer the service on domestic routes but have yet to advance to the point of offering it on overseas travel, until now. United, Delta and American Airlines recently said they are within a few weeks of having internet on international flights.
The new satellite based systems will broaden the reach for airlines to offer the service while in flight over oceans and offer a faster speed for those domestic flights. The current Wi-Fi service used by the airlines now is a standard ground to air connection with limited range for over land flights only. Delta is currently the front runner in regards to the amount of airplanes that have on board Wi-Fi with American Airlines coming in second. Low cost rival, Southwest Airlines says they plan to have the new, faster, satellite based system on three quarters of their fleet by the end of January.
American Airlines recently took delivery of their first Boeing 777-300 which is equipped with the new satellite system. The new airliner will take its first international, revenue flight at the end of January and plans to start overhauling the remaining 777 fleet with the new Wi-Fi in addition to including it on new aircraft deliveries.
None of the airlines have mentioned the cost of the new service for passengers. United says their pricing will depend on the length of the flight and other undisclosed factors. For now, experts are saying passengers may be disappointed that they won’t be able to stream their Netflix movies; however, the airlines will have servers that will allow passengers to stream movies, for a fee. As far as speed, the airlines are remaining quiet about the speed of the new system but say it will be significantly faster than the current Wi-Fi offerings.
The U.S airline industry is among the only ones in the world who see in flight Wi-Fi as a profitable commodity. Australian’s national airline, Qantas dropped their international Wi-Fi service after seeing profits flat line, claiming most of their flights were over night flights when a majority of their passengers prefer to sleep. Experts say the Wi-Fi systems do add addition weight to the aircraft which in turn has an effect on the airlines fuel cost. Airlines like United plan to own their systems which will allow them to set their own prices.
Be on the lookout for a majority of the U.S carriers increasing their Wi-Fi range and speed by the end of 2013. Some people may predict new future partnerships between the airlines and online streaming giants like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.