Window, Aisle or Web? American Airlines Adds Internet To Their Flights

Hi, I'm Laura. Surf Me. (if you don't get that, you're too young.. ask your parents)

I hate to admit it, but when I heard this on the news, I got very excited (I know, I really need to get a life). Now I no longer have to use the flight time to merely clean up my desktop, read in-flight mags or clean out my purse. At least on American Airlines major routes I can work, blog, shop, send e-mails and photos, etc.

American Airlines has launched Aircell's in-flight mobile broadband service, Gogo.

Effective Aug. 20, passengers traveling on American's Boeing 767-200 aircraft can pay a nominal fee for Web access on select flights from New York to San Francisco, New York to Los Angeles and New York to Miami.

Available video includes general views of passengers using Wi-Fi devices onboard aircrafts as well as executive and consumer soundbites.

Hot off the presses and straight from American Airlines & Aircell. Here's their corporate press release: American is the First Airline to Offer Full Inflight Internet in the U.S. on the Entire 767-200 Fleet

FORT WORTH, Texas and ITASCA, Ill. – Marking the beginning of the next wireless revolution, American Airlines made history today with the launch of the mobile broadband service, Gogo™ provided by Aircell ®.

Effective today, customers traveling on American’s Boeing 767-200 aircraft can access complete coast-to-coast coverage on nonstop flights between New York and San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles, and New York and Miami. American, the world’s largest airline and founding member of the oneworld ® Alliance, and Aircell, the world’s leading provider of airborne communications, have joined together to bring the first full inflight broadband service to the U.S. market.

“We are pleased to provide our customers with the unprecedented ability to stay connected to their family, friends and business associates on the ground via the Internet while traveling at 30,000 feet above the United States,” said Dan Garton, American’s Executive Vice President – Marketing. “With today’s launch, American Airlines makes history as the first and only U.S. airline to offer customers full inflight Internet connectivity, demonstrating once again our industry leadership and focus on our customers.”

Aircell’s Gogo will be available to customers as a fee-based service in all cabins. Aircell will charge $12.95 on flights more than three hours, which include American’s Boeing 767-200 flights. Each paid Gogo session includes full Internet access. Cell phone and Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) services are not available.

Gogo turns an American Airlines flight into a Wi-Fi hotspot, enabling passengers to surf the Web, check any email, Instant Message, access a corporate VPN, and more. Once the aircraft has reached 10,000 feet, users can simply turn on their Wi-Fi enabled devices such as laptops, smartphones and PDAs, open their browsers and be directed to the Gogo portal page where they sign up and begin surfing. Gogo is powered by the Aircell air-to-ground (ATG) Broadband System, which runs over Aircell’s exclusive nationwide network.

“Today, U.S. air travel changes forever. With Aircell’s unique ATG inflight Internet service, airlines finally have an economically viable option for providing the broadband connectivity passengers are demanding,” said Jack Blumenstein, President and CEO, Aircell. “American Airlines is the first to bring inflight Internet to market, and today the days of being cut off from the rest of the world while in the air become history.”

So, Will Other Airlines Follow Suit?

NEW YORK (AP) -- One of the few remaining Internet-free havens vanished Wednesday as American Airlines launched airborne e-mail, Web and other online services on some of its longer, nonstop flights.

The move could create a new stream of revenue for an aviation industry facing high fuel prices and other challenges. But it also could create new headaches as passengers retrieve sensitive e-mails and Web sites in confined quarters.

It also could end a common excuse people have to avoid checking "urgent" e-mail requests from their bosses. Unread magazines and books could now pile up as passengers devote their time aloft to electronic browsing.

American, a unit of AMR Corp., tested in-flight access on two flights on June 25. With Wednesday's launch, the airline is making service available for $12.95 per flight on its 15 Boeing 767-200 planes connecting New York with Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami.

"Today the days of being cut off from the rest of the world while in the air become history," said Jack Blumenstein, chief executive of Aircell LLC, the company providing Internet services for American and other airlines.

Delta Air Lines Inc., Virgin America and US Airways Group Inc. are among the other airlines planning to test in-flight services.

JetBlue Airways Corp. offers free Wi-Fi service on one aircraft through its LiveTV subsidiary, limited to e-mail without attachments, instant messaging and some services from Continental Airlines Inc. also plans to use LiveTV with similar restrictions.

Aircell's Gogo service is still formally a test, meaning American could drop it entirely after three to six months or expand it to other planes, depending on customer adoption and feedback. It can work with most laptops, Apple Inc.'s iPhone, some models of Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerrys and other Wi-Fi-enabled devices.

The system will block Internet-based phone calls, giving passengers relief from chatty seatmates.

However, American and other U.S. airlines have said they will not filter sites based on their content, raising the prospect of passengers surfing racy material with kids nearby. Airlines say they already have general policies to address unruly passengers, and those would apply as they do now to passengers who browse adult magazines.

By ANICK JESDANUN, AP Internet Writer

Learn how to surf the net in the friendly skies, how to use your blackberry, etc and other technological info here.

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