More options for in flight Internet

Mixing two of my prime interests, a couple US-based airlines have announced Internet access on their planes this week. For American Airlines it will be a solution provided by Aircell, allowing access to a very broad collection of content, though they will attempt to restrict streaming content.

For Continental Airlines it will be an implementation of LiveTV, a service owned by JetBlue. Continental will be adding the 36 channels of live television (for $6/flight, unlike JetBlue where it is free) as well as access to the WiFi solution that is available as part of the service. This service is severely limited, enabling access only to BlackBerry and Yahoo! Mobile services, including email and IM hosted by Yahoo! and BlackBerry devices that support WiFi. That’s a pretty limited subset of the traveling public, but that hasn’t stopped them from touting “free internet” in the press release. This is the same service that I talked about last week, the one that is struggling performance-wise. The good news (??) is that the installation won’t start until January 2009 on the Continental fleet, so they still have some time to work out the details.

I’m incredibly frustrated by this move towards limited service access by the carrier. I understand that Yahoo and RIM are contributing cash to help finance the solution, but that doesn’t address the fact that 99% of travelers are not going to be able to check their email using this solution. It makes the access virtually useless. The only good coming out of the retrofit will be power outlets in the seats, so I can watch my own DVDs all flight long and not worry about battery life. So much potential, and such a poor path to follow πŸ™

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.