Gogo, American Airlines in-flight internet in 300 more planes

Tuesday, March 31, 2009, 11:03 by Aviation Correspondent


American Airlines expanding in-flight internet service to 300 more planes.

American Airlines, based in Fort Worth, Texas, the United States, is expanding its  in-flight wireless internet service to 300 more planes. 

The carrier’s mobile broadband service, called Gogo, is provided by AirCell. 

In a statement, American Airlines, a subsidiary of the AMR Corporation, said it would install Aircell’s Gogo wireless equipment on 150 of its McDonnell Douglas MD-80 airplanes in 2009. 

The facility will be expanded to American Airlines’ Boeing 737-800 planes in 2010. 

The airline said it would start with providing internet service on 150 MD-80 planes in 2009. 

Passengers will have to pay $12.95 for the internet service on trans-continental flights of over 1,150 miles and also for flights of over 3 hours, and $9.95 for service on shorter flights. Those using hand-held devices only will be charged $7.95. 

American Airlines had started offering in-flight internet service in 2008 to passengers on 15 Boeing 767-200 planes on select routes. 

Doug Backelin, in-flight communications and technology manager of American Airlines, said in the statement that passengers’ reception of in-flight internet service has been “phenomenal” and that “people are just amazed at what a great service it is.”  

Jack Blumenstein, president and chief executive of Aircell, was quoted by the website dallasnews.com as announcing that Aircell was planning to offer other pricing options like a 24-hour pass, a subscription plan and a discounted price for multi-flight journeys.  

Blumenstein added that he was “surprised by the intensity of use” of in-flight internet by passengers of American Airlines “even though they are doing the same thing in the air as they do on the ground.” 

In a move that has been described by aviation analysts as an effort to attract passengers with perks that would bring in more revenue, major airlines have been competing to internet access on their flights. Experts also expect the in-flight internet to become common in the aviation industry. 

Delta Air Lines, based in Atlanta, Georgia, the United States, had announced a week ago that it would install Wi-Fi internet on Delta-branded US aircraft by late 2009. 

Delta Air Lines, which had merged with Northwest Airlines in 2008, now has 77 internet-enabled aircraft.  

In February 2009, Southwest Airlines, the low-cost airline based in the United States, had started testing what is called the Row 44 technology, which uses satellites to carry the signal to the planes.  

United Airlines, a subsidiary of UAL Corporation and based in Chicago, the United States, had announced earlier in 2009 that it would start offering Aircell’s in-flight internet service on its trans-continental flights later in 2009.