Airlines Add Internet Access: The Definitive Guide to Navigating Airplane Wi-Fi

Right now, American doesn't have any way to tell customers in advance which MD-80s will have Wi-Fi, but is developing a tool. For now, passengers must for Wi-Fi logos inside and outside the plane and on seatback cards.

American was the first U.S. airline to provide broadband Wi-Fi service and was the launch customer for Aircell's Gogo service.

More details about the service can be found at AA.com/wifi.

Continental Airlines is working with LiveTV to provide live satellite television on its fleet. As part of that plan, a company spokesman said the airline plans to offer free Wi-Fi, subject to LiveTV being able to offer the service.

Continental now has TV on about 30 aircraft and plans to complete installation on its fleet of Boeing 737 Next-Generation and Boeing 757-300 aircraft by March 2011.

Delta Offers Widespread Wi-Fi

Delta offers Wi-Fi on more than 300 planes through Gogo. The airline is also adding Wi-Fi to 200 aircraft acquired through its merger with Northwest Airlines, scheduled to be completed by mid-2010. By June 2010, Delta said it will have a total of 530 Wi-Fi equipped planes.

The cost of the service ranges from $5.95 to $12.95 per flight, depending on the distance and the type of device used. (See the AirTran listing above for more details.) VoIP calls and pornographic sites are blocked by Gogo.

Like other airlines, the key to finding Delta planes with Wi-Fi is to look at aircraft type. Boeing 757s have the service, and the airline is adding Wi-Fi to 737s and 767s. For the latest details, check out the airline's Wi-Fi blog.

Delta currently provides customers with information about Wi-Fi enabled aircraft using flight attendant announcements, icons near passenger seats and information cards in seatbacks. It will be including information about which aircraft include in-flight Wi-Fi on Delta.com in the future.

JetBlue is currently testing Wi-Fi on one Airbus A-320 it is calling BetaBlue. The satellite-based service is provided through LiveTV, its wholly-owned subsidiary that is also going to provide the service to Continental.

JetBlue is not charging for the service and is trying to use that free service, along with its free live TV, to market itself as "a different type of carrier."

"We believe the North American consumer has come to expect more -- not less -- of their airline, and we are pleased to provide this service to them free of charge," the airline told ABC News.

The airline is unable to say in advance which flights BetaBlue, the Wi-Fi plane, will serve on any given day. In other words, it's not possible to book a flight on BetaBlue. JetBlue's scheduling department attempts to place BetaBlue on transcontinental flights as much as possible; however, there will certainly be times when the plane will be used to serve short- and medium-haul flights.

More information about the service can be found here.

After the trial on the one A-320, JetBlue said it will roll out the service to more aircraft, however it does not have a timeline at this point.

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