American Airlines has launched broadband internet service on nonstop flights from New York to San Francisco, New York to Los Angeles and New York to Miami for a fee of $12.95 [Bizjournals]

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  1. Subliminal0182 says:

    Along with a connection fee of $19.95, a convenience fee of $5.95, and the infamous ‘miscellaneous fee’ $10.95. We hope you enjoy your flight!

  2. Botticelli711 says:

    this might seem expensive, but at least they’re recouping ther losses on the price of oil and providing a needed service at the same time. If they offered this on international flights at the same price I would purchase it.

  3. ZekeSulastin says:

    It’d be nice if they defined ‘broadband’ …

  4. Anjow says:

    I suspect it will be ‘broadband’ in the same sense as the 160Kbps connections in the UK were.

  5. bobpence says:

    Takeoff fee: $ 5.00
    Landing fee: $1000.00

  6. thaJack says:

    What I don’t understand is that every time I get on a flight, they say
    that anything that transmits or receives needs to be turned off for
    the duration of the flight because it can interfere with the
    airplane’s navigational systems.

    How are they planning to modify your laptop’s wifi card so that it is
    now safe to use?

  7. SBR249 says:

    @SukeshiScapula: I suspect that the plane’s electrical systems, especially the parts sensitive to interference has been shielded during the installation process for the broadband equipment.

  8. Coelacanth says:

    That’s a service that’s almost worth paying a fee!

    What a thought: add new features to flights to make travelers more likely to fly the “friendly” skies, and people might gladly pay for them. It might regenerate some lost revenue streams and change consumer sentiment.

    Nonetheless, this new service doesn’t make up for the fact that flying with even the first checked bag incurs an additional fee.

  9. TideGuy says:

    This will last until someone pulls up the radar to show the pilot that there really isn’t a wheather delay. Oops, I forgot the guy in the iPhone commercial already did that.

  10. Thorgryn says:

    I don’t fly much, but if something like that was available on my next flight, I might be more inclined to fly that airline, give me internet and I can kill time very well.

  11. Cattivella says:

    I would definitely be more likely to fly an airline with in flight broadband access. Nothing can whittle away tedious hours like the internet, as proved by my day job.

  12. Carso says:

    At $12.95 for a 3 hour flight, you’re looking at ~$3108/month for broadband.

    That’s like paying $9.00 for popcorn at the movies!

    Oh wait.

  13. Coles_Law says:

    This suits their customer base well. Now they no longer have to wait until they land at the airport to post their AA horror stories to Consumerist.

  14. PDX909 says:

    @SBR249:

    Commercial mobile devices have never radiated enough energy to interfere with an aircraft’s avionics systems. By design they are shielded for RFI and EMI interferences far stronger than the typical cellular phone, WiFi cards etc can produce. Modern digital devices actually radiate a lot less energy than the old analog ones. Having a cellular repeater and a broadband WiFi access point on-board is going to be a huge revenue opportunity for the airlines.

  15. Tankueray says:

    If this is cellular broadband, like what I have with my AT&T mobile broadband connect card, it’s slow and can’t handle multiple users, let alone anything other than email (no attachments) and web browsing. No YouTube, Flash based websites, or anything that “normal” broadband users get. It barely handles VPN.

  16. psychos says:

    Big deal. I paid $29.95 for 24 hrs of Boeing Connexion on Korean Air a little over 2 years ago. That covered my entire trip from LAX-ICN (Seoul)-SYD (Sydney). (Yeah, I went the long way down to Australia; award ticket.) The Connexion service was actually 20Mbps down, although only 5Mbps of that was allocated for end users. Latency was expectedly high since it was satellite, but it was surprisingly snappy. I actually used Skype+a Bluetooth headset to make a [very short, as to not annoy fellow passengers] call to a friend back home. I think it was like $14.95 if I’d just wanted the 12 hour LAX-ICN segment.

    I had a universal power outlet, an Ethernet jack (although I was on wireless), and a USB charging jack at my seat (though I was in Business.) But I was told that every single seat on the plane at least had a power outlet.

    It’s a shame that 9/11 caused all the domestic US carriers who were interested in Connexion to drop that idea. This revolutionary new in-flight Internet is, sadly, quite a bit slower than that of a couple years ago, at least throughput-wise. (I was indeed managing to pull down nearly a full 5Mbps in testing; of course, that would have meant nobody else was trying to do any heavy downloading at the same time.)

  17. psychos says:

    Oh, and for comparison, Aircell, which AA is using, currently uses 1xEV-DO rev A (e.g., the same service you get with a Sprint or Verizon data card.) That means peak 3.1Mbps down/1.8Mbps up, but actual speeds tend to be a good bit lower.

    Connexion (which is seemingly still alive in some form for military use) was 20Mbps down/5Mbps up; real-world throughput, not maximum burst. Of that 20Mbps down, 5Mbps was allocated for end users, 5Mbps was allocated for 4 channels of pretty lame streaming TV, 5Mbps was allocated for airline use, and 5Mbps was reserved.

    Now, Aircell has the potential to go to EV-DO rev B (minor gains), or 4G (LTE, likely, which would bring far larger gains.) When and if they upgrade planes to cheap 4G service, then it’ll be more worth talking about. Then they’ll just have to fix the whole problem of lack of coverage over the water. I’m not so concerned about Internet on a 6 hour cross-country flight (though it WILL be nice, in whatever fashion), but much more interested in being able to be online for a 10 – 18 hour hop over to Asia or wherever.

  18. psychos says:

    @SBR249:

    From what I’ve heard, there has been no special shielding for Aircell installation, or for Connexion installation before it. Of course, they’ll still be as strict about the < 10k ft rule, since if there IS interference, that’s where it’s likely to happen. Keep in mind that tons of people leave their cellphones on anyways due to negligence or indifference, and that doesn’t seem to be crashing planes. And cellphones can transmit with significantly more power than 802.11.

    As an aside, I recall that I could see 6 separate wireless access points on a Connexion-equipped flight I was on; that was from the upper deck near the front of a 747, so I suspect that if I had been in the center of the plane I’d have seen a few more.

  19. emilayohead says:

    I predict it will only be a matter of days before the first complaint comes rolling across this website about the guy in the next seat over downloading porn. Totally going to happen.

  20. TechnoDestructo says:

    What are the pings like?

  21. psychos says:

    @TechnoDestructo:

    Should be comparable to commercial EV-DO rev A. So about 70 – 150ms, averaging around 120ms or so.

    However, this is before anyone else starts loading webpages, downloading mail, or sucking down other large files. You’ll probably start jumping up to 500 -1000ms at that point, perhaps worse if there’s even more contention. However, it is possible to implement weighted fair queueing on top of the connection, which would significantly improve latency if other people are sucking bandwidth. However, EV-DO technologies aren’t really made for implementing such things, so it’d be something of a bad hack riding on top of a regular cellular data protocol.

    Again, this WILL be nice if they do manage to upgrade it to some sort of 4G data reasonably soon. As long as you’re not over an ocean.

  22. danejb92 says:

    @Anjow: What do you mean “were”

    I’m living in the outskirts of Northampton, UK and get that speed often.