United Puts Wireless Internet on p.s.

American and Virgin America have wi-fi onboard, Delta is beginning installation, Alaska and Southwest are looking to do testing, and well, Continental is at least putting live TV on their planes. But United hadn’t done anything, until now. United will roll out wireless internet on its p.s. flights between New York/JFK and both San Francisco and Los Angeles in “the second half of this year.”

What took United so long to get in the game? They actually started off very early but then fell silent for a long time. I had completely forgotten about this, but spokesperson Robin Urbanski reminded me that back in June 2005, back when I still worked at United, the airline had its 757s certified by the FAA for wi-fi.

Once she mentioned it, the memories came flooding back. I remember thinking how great it would be, but that was three and a half years ago. Others have been at it for awhile, so why did they wait? Urbanski said, ” . . .we wanted to make sure we selected the right service provider that can offer us something that was most cost-effective and most importantly, reliable for our customers.”

So United really sat on the sideline on this one for a long time. They’ve finally now decided they’ve found the right mix of cost-effectiveness and reliability, I guess. But was something else at play here? Urbanski says no, but we all know the competition between United and American over the years has always been fierce. I still have to wonder if American’s addition of wi-fi to their transcontinental routes finally pushed United to act.

Either way, it will be harder for you to fly a plane between New York and LA/SF without internet than with it in the near future. That’s great news for everyone, but probably most of all for AirCell which has the contract with United, American, and Virgin America.

Will United put this on other airplanes as well? It’s unclear. The release simply says, “United and Aircell will assess customer feedback to determine additional rollout plans.” It’s sad to see that United took so long to get onboard here, especially considering their head start, but it’s nice to see it finally getting into gear.

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23 Comments on "United Puts Wireless Internet on p.s."

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FBKSan
Guest

Is United really that late to the game? As you point out, most other carriers are starting or have limited installation–or still doing testing. Maybe United is slow relative to its initial interest (e.g., 757 certification), perhaps, but it’s not like everyone else has have onboard wifi for years. In some ways I’m surprised it’s taken all of these carriers so long to get on board with in-air internet–though I gather there are technology (and probably market) constraints.

Benji
Guest

So is it a pay-per-use or a free service onboard?

A
Guest
Regarding late to the game for onboard products, where does NW come in? I can see letting the decrepit DC-9 fleet linger but why haven’t they put anything into their 319/320 or 757 fleets? Their A330 fleet has a nice product for int’l travel and 1st on the 747’s is decent, but nothing for the domestic/canada/mexico traveler. I recall a flight years ago on NW 757 with the old CRT tv’s hung from the ceiling. Now those are gone and they offer nothing. It makes one wonder if the whole merger/buyout was in the cards for longer than anyone is… Read more »
AN
Guest

Last two times I flew p.s., the window frames and shades fell off/out during flight. I’d prefer to pay 12.95 per flight for an extra few minutes of maintenance inspections.

Johnny Plane
Guest

A- NW still has those CRT TV in their 757. Beside even though they haven’t spent a lot on domestic entertainment I think they kind of make up for it in service, which is better than some carriers domestic flights.

Zach
Guest

Forgive me, but what does p.s. stand for?

Benji
Guest

I refuse to pay $10 for wifi in my hotel, why should i do it on a plane?

Ntetlow
Member

I wrote to United years ago as they used to have it on their 777’s on International flights –they then took the service off for reasons that totally eluded me – about time United – Nick

Randall Shirley
Guest
I’ve been on a couple of flights where Wi-fi was avail, and frankly I hated it. Can we not have ANYWHERE on the planet where we’re not connected. As an American living in Canada, I totally understand WHO Americans are, and their self-obsession with their own individual self-importance. But it just gags me every time I cross the border to see how many Americans are using Blue Tooth cell phones. WHO DO THESE PEOPLE THINK THEY ARE? Attn: humans: we are just not that important. 24/7 connectivity is asinine. Today I flew a Hawker-Siddely aircraft (Air North : Yukon’s airline)… Read more »
Axel Sarki
Guest

WOW!!!! You worked for one of the airlines that even if they paid you to fly em, you wouldent. :)

Dana Traupman
Guest

I think this is really neat. I just moved to Portland where I have Clear wireless internet (www.clear.com/?utm_source=bc) and my “Frequent” package includes 2GB of usage per month plus wireless service throughout the greater downtown Portland area for $40 a month. This is the first wireless service that I’ve had and I’m hooked. I don’t know how I ever lived without wireless and I’m glad that the airlines are catching up.

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[…] $12.95 beginning the second half of the year. Do you think they’re late to the game? Read: “United Puts Wireless Internet on P.S.” at the Cranky […]

Zach
Guest

Randall- Wow…um…that was quite a screed.

CF- thanks for the info!

Oliver
Guest

@Nick — I don’t think United ever had WiFi. Some of its partners (ANA, LH) had it for a while (Connexion).

@Cranky — how many Virgin America aircraft have WiFi these days?

Oliver
Guest

@Cranky — when I googled for this information, I came across this URL.

http://www.virginamerica.com/va/wifiTracker.do?method=wifiTracker

Can’t quite make sense of the contents, but from the URL it almost seems like it’s meant to give you a way to figure out what flights are WiFi-enabled on any given day.

Oliver
Guest
Follow-up to my previous post: From Virgin America’s press release when they rolled out the first aircraft with WiFi: “The first Wi-Fi enabled plane (N638VA) can be tracked in real time via Google Maps at: http://wifitracker.virginamerica.com. During the beta period, the airline is encouraging its frequent fliers and Wi-Fi advisory board members to provide feedback on the service.” That URL redirects to the one I found via Google. Still, the information doesn’t quite make sense as you’d need three aircraft to fly the schedule, but then two of them would be doing very little flying today. On the bright side,… Read more »
Jane
Guest

How much would the charge be? Also, what does this mean for my iPhone? Would the applications still work?

Carbon offsets eh? I have actually never flown Virgin but that is a pretty brilliant marketing move, especially if they are touted in-flight.

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