Alaska Airlines will soon offer wireless internet

Virgin America, American Airlines -- now Alaska Airlines becomes the latest US carrier to promise in-flight wireless internet to customers.

The service will come at a to-be-determined price. Some of these reports indicate Alaska will be the first of those three carriers to actually launch airborne WiFi, but not according to the planned rollout dates -- VA says its service will be live in 2008, Alaska is aiming for 2009.

Virgin and American are using AirCell, but Alaska's using a different provider, Row 44.

Link to AP item, here's the Alaska Airlines press release.

Over at Wi-Fi Networking News, Glenn Fleishman digs a little deeper:

Row 44 can cover Alaska’s large number of over-water flights to Alaska, Hawaii, and Mexico, where AirCell won’t be able to even when they receive expected approval from Canada, Mexico, and Caribbean nations for their system. Row 44 planes extensive entertainment offerings down the road, too. (...)

Alaska’s test will come in the spring, and if successful, they’ll roll service out to 114 aircraft by the end of 2009. No pricing has been set. AirCell believes its airlines will charge about $10 for a session. Row 44’s head said that the firm might set up a fleetwide single price model–pay a few dollars for access on all Alaska flights for a day–or even a monthly subscription model.

  • Virgin America announces in-flight, air-to-ground broadband
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    1. “the latest US carrier to promise in-flight wireless internet to customers”: Turns out that AP was a bit more positive than later coverage. Alaska is equipping just one plane for its test, after which it could choose to equip the entire fleet.


      Alaska also did a trial a few years ago of a portable entertainment player that could show five hours of movies, play audio, etc., that would be handheld and available for rental on flights. The brilliant idea was that no plane seatbacks needed to be retrofit.

      The idea was a good one, but just didn’t take off in trials, I’m guessing.

    2. I’ve heard that Ted Stevens is an investor in Row 44 and that Row 44’s technology involves a very long Internet tube connecting the plane to the ground over the entire flight path, with special “gold-level” service when flying to the island served by the Bridge to Nowhere.

    3. So now that the airlines can make money off of it, leaving your laptop wi-fi on in-flight is suddenly safe?

      What’s next – will they rent “approved” wireless mice?

    4. I feel stupid for wondering about this, but I’m sure someone reading Boingboing can enlighten me: if it’s so deadly dangerous for us to have cell phones turned on while we fly, and if I have to turn off the wireless functionality on my PSP or NintendoDS while I fly, how exactly can we use wireless internet connections on our laptops?

      Could it be that not letting us use electronic devices is just a bunch of FUD? Or is the risk as real as 3.1 ounces of deadly shampoo?

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