American Will Test In-Flight Broadband Next Year

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.

From USAToday:

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.

American to test in-flight broadband next year [USAToday]
(Photo:global jet)


Edit Your Comment

  1. ThomFabian says:

    They have it already on Lufthansa. A few years ago I had to go to Germany on business. It was an amazing thing to be cruising along somwhere over the Eastern Seaboard and the Atlantic Ocean watching football via my Slingbox at home.

    It was about 10 bucks per flight, which is fairly reasonable on a flight of that length. On the way back they were handing out coupons for free WiFi because the plane was 15 minutes late.

  2. redknight says:

    So what happens if the person sitting next to you starts watching porn? Will they block that too? Because I’d rather listen to someone bast away on Skype than have them pleasure themselves next to me (physically or mentally)!

  3. jwarner132 says:

    They can’t block Skype. People will just SSH tunnel the Skype traffic through a server set up on the ground somewhere.

    I <3 SSH

  4. Geekybiker says:

    Cool. I really hope this takes off. Though I’d still rather have an extra 2″ in seat width.

  5. Enishiru says:

    Great, but… I wonder how many restrictions there will be?

    Especially if they start worrying about terrorism, who knows what kind of ridiculous things they could implement.

  6. huginn says:

    What’s the exact definition of ‘broadband’ here? IEEE never really set a definition of what it really is did they?

    To the AA, it could mean something that’s traffic blocked up and barely gets past 1 MB. With port throttling and several limits.

  7. nucleotide says:

    I used the boeing wifi service on a Singapore Air flight. They were testing it and it was free. I was surprise how low latency the connection was. And yes, I used skype and it worked perfectly. I wonder how they would block it from being used by people on VPN?

  8. timmus says:

    [00:56] <snooz> hang on, waitress serving me dinner
    [00:56] <arfinator> can u see her ass
    [00:56] <snooz> im just taknig a bread roll cuz no room for tray
    [00:56] <snooz> damn, plane is going into a dive
    [00:57] <arfinator> lol
    [00:57] <snooz> were gonna die!!!
    [00:57] <arfinator> :D
    – Snooz has disconnected Thu Aug 02 2007 00:57
    [00:57] <arfinator> ur just kidding rite?

  9. Buran says:

    I will not fly AA because of their lies regarding their purchase of TWA and their claim that they wouldn’t fire TWA staff, and because of what they did to the STL area.

    Put it on Southwest and we’re talking.

  10. gibsonic says:

    IPhone (or other PDA with web browswer)
    Plane Lavatory
    Internet connection
    Virtual Mile High Club

  11. Murph1908 says:

    I misread this as ‘free’ the first time. I agree with Meg. As soon as someone does this at no charge, they’ll be the first airline I look at.

  12. doormat says:


    Southwest and JetBlue are looking to have WiFi in flight soon. I think the RFPs were supposed to be out by now, and they were going to start installing them by the end of the year.

  13. Snakeophelia says:

    Is it too much to ask that the airlines first make sure the planes are on time and passengers aren’t delayed/cheated/held hostage? I mean, yay broadband and everything, but the lack thereof is not the reason I’ve come to hate flying.

  14. Buran says:

    @doormat: That’s good news! Crossing my fingers. I don’t mind a small surcharge to use it as long as it’s small – $5 for an in-US flight for example, since Boeing wanted $10-$15 for international flights.

  15. rbf2000 says:

    @redknight: You don’t need the Internet to look at porn on a computer on a plane.