Whether you need to do business on the go, or are just taking an occasional trip, the need to stay connected to the Internet while traveling seems to be a given to most Americans.
The recent push of tablets and increasingly-smarter smart phones on consumers has made wireless data communication technology, what is commonly called Wi-Fi, as essential as gasoline in the consumer mind.
With this a seemingly inevitable trend has made its way onto airplanes, more and more airlines are offering inflight Wi-Fi services on a greater number of flights.
A few years ago travelers were content with using the free Wi-Fi offered at most airports and then obediently shutting off their electronic devices or putting them in “airplane mode” while in the air. Even if you were the person who slyly hid your phone/Tamagotchi from the flight attendant, chances are you had a hard time catching any sort of usable signal.
With many people now having data usage restrictions for their cellular plans, Wi-Fi hotspots are sought out and needed by those hungry for data.
Domestic airlines such as Alaska Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Virgin America offer Wi-Fi on many of the larger aircrafts in their fleets, Virgin America being the only one to offer Wi-Fi on every flight it services. American Airlines, United and US Airways are also among those rapidly expanding their own Wi-Fi capabilities.
JetBlue is, oddly enough, one airline that has been late just trying to get to the party. With its first flight in 2000, the relatively young company has yet to offer inflight Wi-Fi to its patrons. The company does attempt to appease JetBlue-goers by revealing on its website plans of a new high-speed service using ViaSat satellite technology to be rolled out later this year.
Most airlines that currently offer Wi-Fi in the air do so in partnership with Gogo, a third-party company facilitating the connection to the Internet. Gogo charges the consumer before they are able to connect to the Internet, passengers may pay while onboard, but also have the option to pay in advance through Gogo’s website.
Prices for the service can vary depending on the length of the flight and airline. However, Gogo offers a $14 flat rate on all-day passes. Month-long passes are also available for one, or all Gogo airlines which cost $39.95 and $49.95 respectively.
For many people no price is too much to pay to be able to continue vital communication with their business dealings, or to merely have the comforts of home at 30,000 feet.
While not free like its in-terminal counterpart, inflight Wi-Fi is bringing a valuable and exciting new dimension to travel for business people and vacationers alike.