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2/09/2008 – American Airlines Puts WiFi In The Sky
Last Wednesday, the 27th of August, an American Airlines (AA) Boeing 767-223 (762) closed up its forward cabin door, the jetway pulled away from the AA 762 at JFK International Airport’s Terminal 8, in New York. As the ramp-tug slowly pushed the aircraft back from Gate 35 there was a quick stop, the tug disconnected and the American Airlines 762 turned right onto ‘Tango,’ left onto ‘Alpha’ and slowly made its way to runway 13-Right. As the aircraft started down the runway there were some excited techno-business travelers that were getting giddy, excited about their 6 hour and 19 minute flight to San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
Why were there some excited techno-savvy business travelers onboard? This flight was the day American Airlines launched their in-flight WiFi services for all passengers on-board.
AA launched this service, ‘GoGo’, on their domestic 767-200 fleet that services the high traffic New York–Los Angeles and New York–San Francisco routes. American Airlines has long since been the industry leader in providing simple business friendly amenities in all classes of service, most notable being in-seat power on all their mainline aircraft (DC power, using a standard automobile cigarette lighter plug), and this launch puts them significantly ahead of Delta Airlines and Virgin America who also service this high traffic route. American AA’s primary competitor on this route, United Airlines, has not announced any intention to offer in-flight WiFi on their JFK-LAX/SFO sub-fleet of 757-200 “PS” aircraft.
The cost of the unlimited in-flight WiFi is $12.95. Unlike other airlines that have in-flight e-mail and messaging, this service will allow you to use your laptop or PDA in WiFi mode to work in a normal mode during your flight. VOIP will not be enabled with the service (no airlines intend to allow VOIP)
Back on the 17th of May 2004 Boeing introduced “Connexion” that was installed in both Boeing and Airbus aircraft to allow WiFi to the flying public. The original intention of Boeing Connexion was to primarily service high-traffic North American business routes. Instead of being installed primarily on North American aircraft it was installed by a variety of European and Asian carriers on long-haul international routes, without a single North American carrier picking up this option. With few airlines installing Connexion service, it was discontinued on the 31st of December 2006. Personally, I enjoyed using Boeing Connexion on Lufthansa and Korean Air…….so I am glad to see WiFi return to the skies.
Will this new service sway my airline choice to AA? That remains to be seen, as the WiFi is only on limited routes (although one I fly often) and does not service any of my three local ‘home’ airports.
So for those of you in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, who enjoy surfing will you fly, you now have an option to be production while in-flight!
PS: For those of you who use your travel time to relax……. there are plenty of other airlines that fly these routes