American to Add Wi-Fi to More Domestic Flights

Surfing the Internet from the friendly skies is becoming a reality for more and more U.S. travelers. American Airlines is taking its experiment with in-flight Wi-Fi out of the trial stage and will be installing Gogo Inflight Internet on more than 300 domestic aircraft over the next two years. More specifically, American will install the Aircell system on its domestic MD-80 and Boeing 737-800 aircraft fleets, starting with 150 MD-80 aircraft this year.

In December, Delta said it would offer Gogo Inflight Internet on its planes by the end of this year and on its newly acquired Northwest planes by the end of next year. In January, United Airlines announced its own plans to add in-flight Internet service to 13 Boeing 757 p.s. aircraft in the second half of this year. Virgin America plans to have its fleet of 28 planes fitted with Wi-Fi by the end of June. Southwest Airlines and JetBlue are also experimenting with Wi-Fi offerings on domestic flights.

The announcement from American Airlines accelerates what has been a limited service to date; many carriers have announced in-flight Internet trials to see if passengers would pay for the access, but large-scale domestic rollouts are still somewhat limited. American Airlines was the first U.S. airline to launch the Gogo service last August on 15 of the company’s Boeing 767-200.

Like other Gogo Inflight offerings, American Airlines’ service will cost laptop users $12.95 on flights longer than three hours, and $9.95 on shorter ones. Travelers with handheld devices such as smartphones and PDAs will pay $7.95 no matter the length of the flight. The service will be available after planes reach 10,000 feet so it doesn’t interfere with communications between air control and the cockpit.

Gogo’s Inflight Wi-Fi system uses ground-to-air signals from cellular towers to provide Wi-Fi. Therefore, international flights will not be equipped with Gogo Inflight service.