In-flight Wi-Fi is a nice amenity when crossing the skies of the continental United States, but it's pretty much radio silence if heading overseas. No longer. United has just become the first U.S.-based international carrier to offer customers the ability to stay connected while traveling on long-haul overseas routes. Of course, it's not a universal roll-out, and it'll take a long time before each international haul includes Wi-Fi, but a start is something that most of United's rivals don't have. The airline has enabled the first of its wide-body international aircraft with the equipment needed to provide satellite-based (not Gogo) Wi-Fi across international waters.
The Wi-Fi-equipped aircraft is a Boeing 747-400 that serves trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific routes. It’s outfitted with Panasonic
Avionics Corporation’s Ku-band satellite technology
, offering customers faster inflight Internet service than air-to-ground technology (ATG). In addition, a pair of Airbus 319 plans serving domestic routes have been equipped with Ku-band satellite Wi-Fi, and United hopes to complete installation of satellite-based Wi-Fi on 300 mainline aircraft by the end of this year.
You can choose from two speeds: Standard, priced initially between $3.99 and $14.99 depending on the duration of flight, and Accelerated, priced initially between $5.99 and $19.99 and offering faster download speeds than Standard. But, unless you're in first class, you better pack along a HyperMac to keep that battery going as the night draws on.