Tag: Gogo

Up in the Air with In-Flight Wi-Fi

Up in the Air with In-Flight Wi-Fi

We have an almost preternatural urge to remain constantly connected to our electronic gadgets, even while cruising in a “tin tube” six or more miles above the surface of Planet Earth.

Four years ago I wrote two stories about in-flight Wi-Fi: One about the topic in general, and another that reviewed Wi-Fi service available on Southwest Airline flights.

A trip to Phoenix last month gave me an opportunity to use the Wi-Fi and in-flight entertainment systems on Southwest during the Portland-to-Phoenix leg of my trip, and that on an Alaska Airlines flight back to Portland a week later.

Here’s what I learned.

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“Flight Testing” Southwest’s In-Flight WiFi

“Flight Testing” Southwest’s In-Flight WiFi

(GoGo Photo)
(GoGo Photo)

Last week in “In-Flight WiFi? Why Not?” I noted that a few years ago durng a Phoenix to Oakland flight, I was able to connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi for free when Southwest was testing the system aboard select aircraft.

On recent round-trip flights between San Francisco and San Diego I had an opportunity to see how Southwest’s current paid WiFi service works, and whether it’s worth the cost of using it.

Southwest’s WiFi system is now powered by Row44, while that aboard planes operated by its wholly-owned subsidiary, AirTran, uses the GoGo WiFi product, as do seven other U.S. airlines, plus Air Canada. WiFi on Southwest planes works with any WiFi-enabled device that has a Web browser. I tried it with my iPad on the way to San Diego and my iPhone 5 on the way back.

Here’s my assessment.

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In-Flight WiFi? Why Not?

In-Flight WiFi? Why Not?

GoGo laptop-user-2_0
(Gogo Photo)

If you’re like me, you are used to accessing the Internet through a Wi-Fi “hot spot” at home, in coffee shops, stores, hotels, and other public places.

So installing Wi-Fi capability on commercial airliners—at least aboard ones that fly only over land and not the broad oceans—ought to be a piece of cake.

But apparently that isn’t so.

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