For the second time, airlines are looking to bring the Internet to its customers, but this time the service is seen as a means to generate revenue in an attempt to combat high fuel costs. Several airlines, including American, Southwest, Virgin, and JetBlue are testing in-flight wireless Internet in order to bring the fee-based service to customers in the coming
American will be testing its service on flights to and from Los Angeles and New York with communications company Aircell. Aircell Inflight Internet uses cellular ground towers to create signals on the plane for laptops and smartphones.
According to Aircell, over "65% of business travelers and one third of all leisure travelers in the United States carry laptops onboard when they fly" and 30% of travelers carry Internet-enabled smartphones or PDAs.
With soaring fuel prices driving the cost of flights up and the proliferation of smartphones, airlines see the Internet as a means to generate much-needed revenue.
The cost of using the service is expected to be between $9 and $13 depending on the duration of the flight. Because an online connection is the number one requested service from customers, it makes sense to deliver it, even though it carries a fee.
In 2006 Boeing terminated its Internet service in its fleet of commercial airplanes because of low demand and a relatively high cost to make the service. At the time, connecting to the Internet could cost around $30.
With new, lighter, and cheaper technology several companies are in the process of bringing the service back, and it won't be long until in-flight Internet becomes the norm.