By Joe Brancatelli
The long and winding road to in-flight WiFi still seems to end well short of profit for both the airlines and the sponsors of the service. But there are definitely some signs of life. After essentially running out of legacy-carrier aircraft to add to its network (United, Continental, US Airways and American have all stopped adding planes), Gogo Internet has received an additional commitment from its prime customer, Delta Air Lines. Delta has already wired about 550 of its mainline jets and has committed to adding WiFi to 233 regional jets, too. Delta says it will wire all of those Delta Connection planes by the end of 2011. Delta says that’ll make about 80 percent of its total fleet WiFi compatible.
Meanwhile, Lufthansa has rolled out the first of its aircraft equipped for WiFi. Actually, it’s a reintroduction since Lufthansa was the leading partner and most enthusiastic supporter of Boeing’s Connexion service, which tanked in 2006. This time, Lufthansa has partnered with Panasonic to relaunch what the carrier calls FlyNet. The service is now available free on select Lufthansa flights from Frankfurt to New York/Kennedy, Detroit and Atlanta. The freebie lasts until January 31, after which Lufthansa says it will charge €10.95 an hour or €19.95 for 24 hours. The airline says it plans to reintroduce FlyNet on all of its long-haul aircraft by the end of 2011.
Joe Brancatelli is editor and publisher of JoeSentMe.com, a non-commercial Web site for business travelers. Copyright 2010 by Joe Brancatelli. Licensed by contract for Orbitz use.