Continental plans a true in-flight wifi trial

Continental Airlines intends to trial both the Kiteline service provided by jetBlue’s LiveTV subsidiary and also the gogo service provided by AirCell according to recent reports.  This move marks the first time that a carrier has actually set up a competitive trial of multiple vendors in an effort to best serve their customers.  Previous trials have been single vendor affairs, essentially determining if the system actually worked rather than figuring out if it was the correct product.

Continental has had the Kiteline product on their announced roadmap for several months now so that service isn’t much of a surprise.  The decision to try out the gogo services is a new one, though one that incoming CEO Jeff Smisek intimated was possible several months ago.  Smisek has stated that the carrier wanted to see if the gogo service had demonstrable financial upside before committing to a deployment.  By putting both services in play at the same time it will be possible to reasonably evaluate just how much passengers like each product and the relative value of installing them fleet-wide.

As previously planned, the Kiteline service will be installed on approximately 30 of the 737-900ER (73E) aircraft.  The gogo service will be installed on Continental’s 757-300 fleet which numbers approximately the same.  Both systems are expected to be in service in the second quarter of 2010. 

Having already used gogo a few times I’m still much more excited about the Kiteline service but having a true face-off between the two might just be the most exciting of all.

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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.