You've Got Mailat 35000 Feet

Dennis Faas's picture

The technological upgrades made to several U.S. airlines will not end with cellular paperless boarding passes. For the small fee of 10 dollars, passengers can now purchase in-flight Internet connections.

JetBlue Airways was the first carrier to jump on board with the project, already offering their customers free email and instant messaging services.

Virgin America also has major plans to link wireless technology directly into their back-seat entertainment systems. This would allow passengers not traveling with laptops or smartphones to still be able to transmit messages from the plane. Virgin America is known for keeping their finger on the tech pulse, being one of the first airlines to introduce seat-back communications aboard an airplane and allowing customers to order food and drinks with the push of a button. (Source:

American Airlines and Alaska Airlines also hope to offer an even more comprehensive web package for their passengers in the near future. All four airlines are looking to turn their planes into wireless hotspots once the aircraft reaches a comfortable cruising altitude. There will be no Internet connectivity upon takeoff or landing.

The in-flight Internet services have sparked a bit of controversy recently, because the new technology would allow online phone calls to be made, something that directly infringes with the airplane cell phone ban imposed by the F.C.C. Many customers in the past complained that the noise level was unbearable even if it was only one passenger making a call. Multiply the annoyance level by 50-100 passengers and sleep aboard an airplane will soon be a thing of the past.

Most carriers have addressed these concerns, stating that they will continue to abide by the F.C.C. regulations and that no plans have been made to allow voice communication while in flight. Many believe that allowing passengers to quietly communicate via email will address all needs. (Source:

Those people who believe that Internet access at a couple thousand feet will be 'hi-speed' are in for a rude awakening. For the time being, the in-flight Internet experience will be very much like the days of dial-up: slow and very prone to glitches.

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