Wi-Fi Taking To The Skies More Each Day

Maybe the new slogan for the ailing airline industry should be, "Fly the wi-fi skies."

Perfect for the folks who start getting the shakes when they get on an airplane and are cut off from Internet access for the duration of their flight, more and more airlines are offering wi-fi Internet access, reports CNN. And those that don't are working on it. Right now it's just within North America, but it'd be hard to imagine it remaining that limited for long.

Gogo Inflight Internet provides the access on Delta, American and Virgin America and will join United later this year, Aircell President/CEO Jack Blumenstein told the news channel. Aircell provides Gogo, which is installed on more than 190 commercial planes and is expected to be on 1,200 by year's end. Gogo has cell towers across the U.S. that provide service up to 300 miles offshore. Those towers will extend their reach to all of North America within the next couple of years, Blumenstein told CNN.

It's not free - Gogo charges $9.95 for flights shorter than 3 hours and $12.95 for longer flights. Delays don't figure into the flight length for the pricing option.

Another service, Row 44, provides Internet access on Southwest and Alaska airlines. CEO John Guidon said North America's already pretty much connected; service over the Atlantic and Europe should be in place by year's end.

JetBlue uses LiveTV, a subsidiary, for limited, free wi-fi on certain aircraft. Basically e-mail and some IM access, BlackBerry users can link up to their accounts and you can shop on Amazon.com. If everything works out, service for a fee might be offered at some point. Frontier Airlines is working with LiveTV to determine if it should offer free wi-fi.

AirTran, Continental and US Airways have no plans in the works, but haven't ruled it out. One would imagine they don't want to get left behind and will have something to offer soon.