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In-Flight Wi-Fi to Become a Reality in 2009

Last month, Delta and American Airlines announced that they would introduce in-flight Wi-Fi to their services, and now United Airlines—through AirCell's Gogo Inflight Internet service—has joined this particular mile-high club, on select cross-country flights. If you're an IT administrator who has been craving this piece of the anytime-anywhere-connectivity puzzle, start looking forward to the latter half of 2009 as your moment to go ahead and surgically attach that phone to the side of your head.

Jokes aside, many businesspeople think of flights as lost time, where they're unable to connect to the outside world and—more important—their workplace. Emails and Internet use are unavailable during flight time, which reduces productivity and makes in-flight adjustments to schedules or presentations impossible.

The United Airlines service will first benefit travelers flying from New York City to Los Angeles or San Francisco. In a joint statement, United and Aircell say they will assess customer feedback to determine additional rollout plans.

United’s announcement comes nearly a month to the day after Delta Airlines announced it was teaming up with in-flight communications company Aircell to provide Wi-Fi Internet access on shuttle flights between Boston, New York, and Washington, DC. Aircell has previously partnered with American Airlines and Virgin America to offer in-flight Wi-Fi. Delta says it plans to have its entire fleet of planes covered by May 31, 2009, as well as those of its merger partner, Northwest Airlines.

United will also be using Aircell’s GoGo Inflight Internet service and would charge customers a flat fee of $12.95 to access it, a similar price point to the ones Delta and American offer. "I can't think of a better way for Aircell to usher in 2009 as the year of in-flight Internet than by announcing our partnership with United," said Aircell President and CEO Jack Blumenstein. "Passengers love GoGo inflight Internet service and the freedom it gives them to be productive, connected, and entertained.&rdquo

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