American Airlines will test fee-based broadband on its transcontinental flights early in 2008. If you hate listening to other people talk on the phone, don’t worry—they’re going to block Skype and its ilk.
The Fort Worth-based airline will conduct the test on its 15 Boeing 767-200 aircraft that fly transcontinental routes, making it one of the first domestic carriers to offer passengers broadband service.
The carrier will consider rolling it out to the rest of the fleet if the test is successful, says company spokesman Charley Wilson. “We’re at the point now where we feel like it’s worth testing,” says Wilson. “We recognize that it helps us to be more competitive.”
The fee-based service will provide passengers with wireless Internet connections for laptops, smart phones and other personal digital assistants equipped with Wi-Fi antennae.
Passengers can use it to surf the Internet, e-mail and instant message, but American’s service provider, Louisville, Colo.-based AirCell, will block the use of Internet-based telephone services, such as Skype, to eliminate air-to-ground phone conversations.
We can’t wait for the in-flight complaints to come rolling in!
On a more serious note, the first airline with free in-flight wifi will win the hearts and minds and wallets of the people.