Airtran Breaks Through With Internet On Every Flight

05.12.09 | FL News Team

AirTran says it will offer Internet service on every flight beginning in late July. While several airlines are experimenting with Internet service on select flights, the Orlando based low-fare carrier will be the first large airline to equip every plane in its fleet with Wi-Fi equipment.

The service comes at a cost. AirTran will charge between $7.95 and $12.95 per flight depending on whether a passenger is using a PDA or laptop and the length of the trip. 

The necessary equipment to provide the service is provided by Chicago-based Aircell. The company says by the end of this year, more than a thousand jets belonging to several American carriers will have Wi-Fi equipment installed. At the end of 2008 the number was only about 30.

The system is simple for passengers to use. Once a laptop, smartphone or PDA is turned on a page is presented asking for credit card information. Once entered service is started with notable exceptions. Sites offering chat services such as Skype, Netmeeting and others are blocked.

San Francisco-based Virgin America will beat AirTran with Wi-Fi service on every plane in the fleet but in the case of Virgin it's just 28 aircraft. Delta and American Airlines have not announced a date Internet service will be guaranteed on every flight. United Airlines currently has no Wi-Fi capability at all.