Delta Airlines To Offer Wi-Fi On All Flights - InformationWeek

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8/5/2008
02:35 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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Delta Airlines To Offer Wi-Fi On All Flights

The pie-in-the-sky dream of having Internet access while on a plane just moved one step closer to reality. Delta Air Lines announced that by mid-2009, it will offer Wi-Fi-based Internet access on all of its domestic U.S. flights. I bet flight attendants never imagined they'd need IT training.

The pie-in-the-sky dream of having Internet access while on a plane just moved one step closer to reality. Delta Air Lines announced that by mid-2009, it will offer Wi-Fi-based Internet access on all of its domestic U.S. flights. I bet flight attendants never imagined they'd need IT training.First, the facts and figures. By next summer, Delta says all of its U.S. flights will provide Wi-Fi Internet access to passengers. The Internet will come via AirCell's ground-to-air technology, which beams wireless signals up to planes and receives whatever the planes send back. This means anyone on the plane with a Wi-Fi radio-equipped device will be able to use it to access the Internet. That includes smartphones, PDAs, MIDs, and laptops. For flights less than three hours, the cost will be $10. For flights over three hours, the cost will be $13.

Worth it? That's up to you. Speaking from experience, however, I can say that no fee is too large when something really important and timely needs to be passed through the Internet. In general, however, I can last a plane ride without Wi-Fi.

That's one issue, but what about on-plane support when the system encounters turbulence?

I can picture it already. You have a flight full of business people shuttling from New York City to Chicago on Delta Flight 80211. They're all very busy, very important people who have much work to accomplish. They pay the $10 to access the Internet while en route. They don't want to be behind when they land in the Windy City. (Because, my god, two and a half whole hours without the Internet would kill them!)

Halfway through the flight, the Internet cuts out for one reason or another. Not only will flight attendants have to deal with surly suits who were working on very important stuff, but they will probably be the ones in charge of troubleshooting the system and getting it in working condition. That is, unless Delta plans to have an Internet tech on board each flight, which I highly doubt.

Flight attendants are, of course, extremely hard working people that put up with a lot of crap from passengers. Adding in-flight Wi-Fi is just one more system that they will likely be in charge of. They won't necessarily need a Cisco Certification to troubleshoot the problems, but they will need at least some level of additional training.

Fair to flight attendants or not, it will be a nice perk for those passengers who really need it.

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