United Airlines launches satellite-based in-flight Wi-Fi service to make long distance flights more bearable

January 16, 2013
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united airlines plane InSapphoWeTrust/Flickr

Ever wanted to go online instead of listening to old Bon Jovi casette tape hits transferred to your iPod or smartphone of choice while flying thousands of feet above sea level? Join the club. It’s something that a lot of people genuinely want because, how can anyone live without the Internet, right? One of the few companies that truly understands this is United Airlines, and as such, it has announced a satellite based in-flight Wi-Fi service, an offering that is the first of its kind in the US.

The satellite based in-flight Wi-Fi service won’t be available free of charge. Those who want to take advantage of it can choose between two different tiers as options. First, there’s a Standard version that will be priced initially between $3.99 and $14.99. There’s also a speedier Accelerated version that’s going to be priced initially between $5.99 and $19.99.

United’s new in-flight Wi-Fi service is made possible with the use of Panasonic avionic equipment. From here on in, the service will be available on a Boeing 747 aircraft that travels trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific routes, according to the official press release. Check out the entirety of the official press release posted below.

Show Press Release

United Airlines Launches Satellite Based Wi-Fi Service

CHICAGO, Jan. 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — United Airlines has introduced onboard satellite-based Wi-Fi internet connectivity on the first of its international widebody aircraft, becoming the first U.S.-based international carrier to offer customers the ability to stay connected while traveling on long-haul overseas routes.

The aircraft, a Boeing 747 outfitted with Panasonic Avionics Corporation’s Ku-band satellite technology, serves trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific routes.

Additionally, United has outfitted Ku-band satellite Wi-Fi on two Airbus 319 aircraft serving domestic routes, offering customers faster inflight Internet service than air-to-ground technology (ATG). The company expects to complete installation of satellite-based Wi-Fi on 300 mainline aircraft by the end of this year.

“Satellite-based Wi-Fi service enables us to better serve our customers and offer them more of what they want in a global airline,” said Jim Compton , vice chairman and chief revenue officer at United. “With this new service, we continue to build the airline that customers want to fly.”

Customers have the choice of two speeds: Standard, priced initially between $3.99 and $14.99 depending on the duration of flight, and Accelerated, priced initially between $5.99 and $19.99 and offering faster download speeds than Standard.

United will install satellite-based Wi-Fi on Airbus 319 and 320 aircraft, and on Boeing 737, 747, 757, 767, 777 and 787 aircraft. Customers will be able to use their wireless devices such as laptops, smart phones and tablets onboard those aircraft to connect with internet service using the in-flight hotspot.

United is upgrading its fleet with more than $550 million in additional onboard improvements, including:

  • Offering the world’s largest fleet of aircraft with flat-bed seats, with more than 175 aircraft with 180-degree flat beds in premium cabins once the airline completes the installation in the second quarter.
  • Expanding extra-legroom Economy Plus seating to provide the most such seating of any U.S. carrier.
  • Revamping the transcontinental “p.s.” fleet of airplanes that fly between New York Kennedy and Los Angeles and San Francisco, offering an improved premium cabin with fully flat beds, Wi-Fi Internet service, and personal on-demand entertainment at every seat.
  • Improving inflight entertainment options with streaming video content on the Boeing 747-400 fleet.
  • Retrofitting overhead bins on 152 Airbus aircraft, allowing for significantly greater storage of carry-on baggage.

Comments

  • http://www.facebook.com/hudspeth Mathew Hudspeth

    Unless I’m missing something, Southwest already does this. They use something called “Row 44″ that connects via satellite. Of course, Southwest doesn’t do international flights, but this isn’t a service that’s “the first of its kind” in the US.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Row_44

  • Plerisei

    There are times I do not want the internet around. A flight is one of those times unless its an emergency situation.