United Airlines announced Wednesday it will begin offering Gogo Inflight WiFi connectivity from Aircell on its premium service transcontinental routes between New York’s John F. Kennedy International (JFK) and California’s two largest airports — Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco International Airport — in the second half of this year.
“Wi-Fi access on board is something [our cutomers] have told us is key to making their flights more productive and enjoyable,” said Dennis Cary, senior vice president and chief customer officer for United Airlines. To that end the airline has commissioned a fleet of specially configured Boeing 757-200 aircraft with three classes of service: United First, United Business, and United Economy Plus. Each class of service includes certain amenities not offered on regular flights.
United joins American Airlines, which already offers over 174 Gogo—equipped flights each week on routes between JFK and San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami. Virgin America currently offers Gogo Inflight between more cities than any other airline, with service available from New York and D.C. on the east coast to destinations in the west including Las Vegas, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.
Air Canada and Delta Airlines have also announced commitments to Gogo Inflight and intend to launch service later this year.
For a flat fee of $12.95 subscribers to Gogo Inflight can access specially equipped aircraft as flying WiFi hotspots to surf the Web, check e-mail, instant message and access corporate VPNs on their Wi-Fi-enabled devices.
Gogo’s website details a list of handheld devices and laptops supported by the service. While the information indicates “voice services” are not supported, it’s not clear whether that applies merely to voice calls over the cellular network or whether VoIP calls using properly configured devices are also disabled.
A call to Aircell’s public relations department had not been returned at press time.
If you’re interested in a graphic representation of the potential size of the market Aircell is aiming for, check out the cool video below, produced by the Institute of Applied Information Technology (InIT), Zurich University of Applied Sciences. It shows global airtraffic in a typical 24 hour period. Each yellow dot represents a scheduled plane flight.