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US Airways WiFi Announcement Is Not What You Think

What exactly would you think when you saw a press release entitled, “Get Connected with Complimentary Wi-Fi from US Airways“?

Yeah, that’s what I thought. Sounds like US Airways is putting wireless internet onboard and offering it for free, right? Wow, the airline has really tried to jump the competition with this one. Er, um, wait a second. Maybe we should actually read the release.

US Airways is actually offering complimentary wireless internet in its airport clubs. That’s it. Oh. Well it’s a good benefit for sure, but I was somehow expecting more from that title. Now that Delta is working on beefing up the inflight entertainment options on Northwest, US Airways is sitting firmly in the rear of the industry when it comes to onboard customer offerings.

The airline still has not announced a single onboard wifi project. I believe that puts them in the same category as Allegiant, Spirit, Midwest, and the regional carriers. Every other US-based airline has announced at least a wifi test. So, just to make sure one more time that you’re not confused by the release, here is what US Airways is offering:

US Airways Free Wifi Availability

Things aren’t much different when it comes to other inflight entertainment options either. Remember that test with the Lumexis in-seat video system on a single aircraft? Well it performed flawlessly, but the airline has been silent on future plans. President Scott Kirby has made it clear that the airline won’t be installing inflight entertainment until it can obtain adequate financing. I guess that hasn’t become available yet.

This isn’t great news for Lumexis, but I wouldn’t worry about them. After 275 flights and 1,000 hours in operation on that one airplane, there wasn’t a single system failure. According to CEO Doug Cline, “We have never delayed a single flight and have never even required a system reboot.” Pretty impressive stuff, so even if US Airways doesn’t move forward, they very likely still have a bright future ahead with other airlines.

It will be interesting to see if US Airways sees any customers defect because of the airline’s lack of competitiveness in onboard offerings. If they do, they might need to make some quick adjustments. If they don’t, well, they might just end up looking like the smartest airline around. (My guess is that while it might look like the latter for a little while, eventually it will be the former.)

[Original photos via Flickr from runJMrun and marcoPapale.com]

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