My laptop on the AirTran flight - 2min ago - looking of course at TheAirlineBlog.com
I am currently on a special media promotion AirTran BoeingÂ flight over 10,000Â ft in the air while posting this, not even sure where we are flying to (but that is ok, becauseÂ we have the internet to entertain me). That’s right folks, welcome to the next generation of airline amenities.Â
Â AirTran Airways is working with Aircell’sÂ Gogo Inflight InternetÂ to upgrade all 136 of their Boeing 737’s and Boeing 717’s by mid-summer to have wi-fi service. Having this service on every flight, frequent fliers don’t have to wonder if their flight will have internet or not. After hitting 10,000 feet, you can open your laptop or turn on your wi-fi enabled phone and be taken to the Gogo page where you can use your credit card to get access to the service. It takes less than 3 minutes to get set up and logged on to the internet and it isn’t slow.Â Talking with Thomas Weigman, Executive VP with AirCell, he stated it is a 3G network able to easily handle up to 80 laptops with no problems (a more extensive interview about the future of airline internet will be posted in a later blog entry).
Pricing isn’t too bad either. $7.95 for handhelds, $12.95 for over 3hr flight, and $9.95 for less than 3hrs. Considering how much more productive you can be, that is quite the deal!
ThisÂ should be the start of a new trend. The concept of Wi-Fi has been around for a few years and it is about time for an airline to dive in headfirst. With business travellers, people wanting (or needing) to check their email constantly, or for something to cause some distraction, this is a perfect solution.
Kevin P Healy, the Senior VP for AirTran’s Marketing and Planning reassured me that AirTran is blocking certain sites, like porn, and Skype-type sites. Meaning you won’t have to hear someone yelling into their laptop during your 5hour flight across country. When asked about if there are any policies in place for when AirTran might shut off the internet (ie an emergency situation), Mr. Healy stated that there are none currently in place, but it is up to the Captain to make that decision and he has a switch in the cockpit to shut down the internet.
Although new and exciting, it seems about time to be able to access the internet from a plane, when I can access it almost anywhere now-a-days on the ground.
This puts an end to the everyflight.com advertising campaign, from which AirTran got more than 30,000 suggestions. Although I am a bit disappointed that slip n slides will not be on every AirTran flight, I think having Wi-Fi is much more beneficial.
My 5.5 hour flight back to Seattle leaves early tomorrow morning and man I wish this WiFi was already live on the plane. Oh well, soon enough it will be.
UPDATE:I found out that my flight back home tomorrow WILL have the internet tomorrow! Expect some more 40,000 feet postings.
MEDIA: Lots of pictures of this experience – Today Show videoÂ (which was a live feed from the plane – and you can kind of see me in the background with being mostly blocked by the reporter’s head).
MULTI-PART BLOG: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
AirTran Ticket counter at BWI 3minutes ago.
I am currently at BWI waiting for my big AirTran special flight where they will announce what the big news is. I had to wake up at about 12AM PST (which was 3AM local time) to be here right now. I will go to all lengths to report airline news!
MULTI-PART BLOG: Part 1, Part2, Part3, Part 4.
Flight 891 from Buffalo. This plane was delivered to Eastern Airlines on 11/30/1979 and transferred to Delta in 1991
Although it is frustrating at times, I understand when airlines have had to send jobs overseas to help them survive.
Delta, in a rare showing, is now doing the opposite — and at a good time nonetheless! They are no longer outsourcing their reservation call center to India and will be moving the jobs back to the US.
There will still be call centers in Jamaica and South Africa, but staffing would most likely be reduced there as well in the future.
When Delta outsourced their call centers to India in 2002, they estimated saving $25million per year, which is nothing to sneeze at.
However, customers made it clear they weren’t happy with the service they received from the call centers in India. “The customer acceptance of call centers in foreign countries is low, and our customers are not shy about letting us have that feedback,” said Richard Anderson, Chief Executire of Delta Airlines.
I would imagine the number of reservation calls has greatly decreased since 2002, with most people choosing to reserve tickets online.
Source: AP Image: AV8NLVR
Old Delta and Northwest Uniforms
If you were flying Northwest (recently merged with Delta) or Delta airlines at the end of march you might have found some of the flight attendants seemed a bit retro. No, I am not talking about giving you large free meals or free blankets and pillows, I am talking about the way they looked.
To celebrate the new Richard Tyler uniforms, they wore Delta and Northwest uniforms of previous years.
I have to say, I kind of like the new uniforms!
Source & Image: Delta Airline Blog
We can do silly things to get that internet!
On the ground we live in a world of easy communication. Access to the internet is pretty much everywhere, from Wi-Fi, to phones, to city-wide free wireless access. However, the technology has seemed to take a while to find a foot hold in the sky.
It would seem to make sense. People are willing to pay to use the internet at hotspots on the ground (even at the airports) why hasn’t the technology taken off (heh) in the air?
Connexion by Boeing used to be the beacon of hope. Here was a big name (you probably have heard of Boeing if you are reading this blog) that was to provide internet access to passengers on planes. It went online on May 17, 2004 and only lasted until December 31, 2006. Boeing stated, “the market for this service has not materialized as had been expected.”
Prices varied from $9.95 per hour to $29.95 for unlimited access. Even though this might be a little too pricey for some, it would seem cheap enough to provide enough entertainment, communication, and business productivity for those who are dropping at least a few hundred on a ticket.
So, where is the beacon of hope now? One of the brightest beacons is Row 44. It was also created in 2004 around the same time as Connexion, but unlike Boeing it is still around and with a hopeful future.
Row 44 currently has plans to set up trial runs on Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines. Unfortunately there was been a little delay due to competition for FCC approval. However they are on track now for testing to start in early 2009. The beauty for those of us in North America, is we might have a chance to use the system (Connexion was not in N. America).
One way or another, I have faith that sometime in the near future we will have seamless internet connection from the ground into the air. Many people have already made it clear they don’t want to be sitting next to someone for a few hours talking on their cell phone (including myself), but I know I would love to be entertained (and gosh maybe even write an airline blog) at 30,000 feet in the air.