United Continental going WiFi

Tuesday, April 26, 2011, 19:50 by Aviation Correspondent

Continental is bringing the WiFi revolution to its fleet from next year. United Continental announced that it had intimated LiveTV, a subsidiary of JetBlue to provide onboard internet service to its fleet of more than 200 737 and 757s fitted with DirecTV service.

United Continental Holdings is also considering adding international WiFi service and deals with major broadband providers to more than 700 of its jets.

Competitors such as Delta, Southwest and American airlines have already retrofitted their aircraft for wireless connections.

The Continental’s move is sure to be welcomed by its loyal passengers, particularly the business contingent who might feel that they are underserved.

United provides only Gogo Inflight internet service on 14 airplanes between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Los Angeles and San Francisco. While continental not offering any WiFi services means they are losing far more passengers to rivals.

Most business travelers feels that onboard internet access is a must have now.

United Continental has not confirmed the final deal for the Ka-band service with LiveTV, which offers increased bandwidth and satellite transmission and would be launched later this year.

Another in-flight service provider Aircell, whose systems are installed in 6000 aircrafts, announced that they would upgrade their current version of air to ground transmission technology (Kiteline). The technology uses signals transmitted from cellular towers. The company also stated plans to introduce international Ka-band service by 2015.

United and Continental completed their merger to form the largest airline in the world last October under the name United Airlines which would be used from later this year. The management has decided to keep United’s popular theme music, spacious Economy Plus seating in all Continental jets along with stopping of offering free snacks on board.

Travelers are eager to see the cabin configurations on the new United, given United and Continental had different specifications. But it was announced after the merger that focus would be on business people more, but it is better to keep the interests of economy travelers as well. While Continental is better in business class services it doesn’t offer first-class service on long-range flights to Europe and Asia, like United.

The company representatives told that a mixed fleet would be used for the initial stages of the combined service.

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