Delta airlines announced today that it will start offering in-flight WiFi service on all aircrafts in it’s domestic fleet by next year.
Delta is joining with Aircell®, a 17-year leader in airborne communications for business and commercial aviation, to install the company’s Mobile Broadband Network on the carrier’s domestic fleet. The system, Gogo™, will enable Delta customers traveling with Wi-Fi enabled devices, such as laptops, smartphones and PDAs, to access the Internet, corporate VPNs, corporate and personal e-mail accounts, as well as SMS texting and instant messaging services. Gogo will be available to customers for a flat fee of $9.95 on flights of three hours or less, and $12.95 on flights of more than three hours.
Couple of things popped up right away when I read this. First the cost structure - $9.95 on flights 3 hours or less and $12.95 on flights more than three hours - anything to keep them afloat I guess as the airline industry continues to grapple with their finances. At least this time they are charging for it right from the start unlike food and beverage service (and recently checked in luggage on some airlines) that was once free only to be “taken away” from us.
Secondly they are definitely targeting the business traveler who can expense it in spite of the cost cutting measures companies have in place these days. Business travelers can easily justify the cost by claiming productivity during the flight especially since VPN will be supported. However I don’t think the average non-business traveler going on vacation will add to their already tight vacation budget so they can check their email or surf the web.
Then there are those of us - the so called geeks or members of the iPhone club - who will end up paying any amount just so we can whip that WiFi enabled iPhone out and check our emails or surf the web - whether we need to or not is beside the point . I wonder what Loopt will tag your current location as when you’re flying!
In all seriousness however this is a good move by Delta. It opens up a lot of possibilities for future airline travel IMO.