Staying connected is good, especially if you’re a VoIP app user, and it now appears as if Americans will be able to offer the same kind of service that Lufthansa has been offering to its fliers for two years now: overseas Wi-Fi connections.
United Airlines announced today that a Boeing 747-400 is currently flying around the world Panasonic-built equipment inside that provides passengers with an “almost” constant connection to the internet, a connection that is only severed during routine happenings such as landing and taking off. The equipment is also aboard two regional Airbus A319 planes.
The service is available in two options: Standard, which will range in price from $4 to $15; and Accelerated, with pricing between $6 and $20. As the name implies, the Accelerated tier offers faster speeds.
United has plans to bring the Wi-Fi connectivity to 300 aircraft by the end of this year.
The official press release follows:
United Airlines Launches Satellite Based Wi-Fi Service
CHICAGO, Jan. 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — United Airlines has introduced onboard satellite-based Wi-Fi internet connectivity on the first of its international widebody aircraft, becoming the first U.S.-based international carrier to offer customers the ability to stay connected while traveling on long-haul overseas routes.
The aircraft, a Boeing 747 outfitted with Panasonic Avionics Corporation’s Ku-band satellite technology, serves trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific routes.
Additionally, United has outfitted Ku-band satellite Wi-Fi on two Airbus 319 aircraft serving domestic routes, offering customers faster inflight Internet service than air-to-ground technology (ATG). The company expects to complete installation of satellite-based Wi-Fi on 300 mainline aircraft by the end of this year.
“Satellite-based Wi-Fi service enables us to better serve our customers and offer them more of what they want in a global airline,” said Jim Compton , vice chairman and chief revenue officer at United. “With this new service, we continue to build the airline that customers want to fly.”
Customers have the choice of 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.
United will install satellite-based Wi-Fi on Airbus 319 and 320 aircraft, and on Boeing 737, 747, 757, 767, 777 and 787 aircraft. Customers will be able to use their wireless devices such as laptops, smart phones and tablets onboard those aircraft to connect with internet service using the in-flight hotspot.
United is upgrading its fleet with more than $550 million in additional onboard improvements, including:
Offering the world’s largest fleet of aircraft with flat-bed seats, with more than 175 aircraft with 180-degree flat beds in premium cabins once the airline completes the installation in the second quarter.
Expanding extra-legroom Economy Plus seating to provide the most such seating of any U.S. carrier.
Revamping the transcontinental “p.s.” fleet of airplanes that fly between New York Kennedy and Los Angeles and San Francisco, offering an improved premium cabin with fully flat beds, Wi-Fi Internet service, and personal on-demand entertainment at every seat.
Improving inflight entertainment options with streaming video content on the Boeing 747-400 fleet.
Retrofitting overhead bins on 152 Airbus aircraft, allowing for significantly greater storage of carry-on baggage.