AirTran Equips Entire Fleet With Wi-Fi

AirTran Airways one-ups its competitors by offering Wi-Fi connectivity across its entire fleet of Boeing 737 and 717 aircraft. Other airlines are beginning to offer Wi-Fi but only on selected flights. Powered by AirCell, AirTran flyers will have full wireless connectivity for laptops, smartphones and other Wi-Fi-enabled devices.

AirTran Airways announced May 12 it will become the first major airline to offer passengers Wi-Fi broadband Internet access on every flight across its entire fleet of Boeing 737 and 717 aircraft. Other airlines, including Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines and United Airlines, offer Wi-Fi but only selected flights.
The airline said all 136 AirTran Airways jets will be fully outfitted with Aircell's Gogo Inflight Internet service by midsummer, creating airborne hot spots supporting laptops, smartphones and other personal digital assistants. The service will provide full Internet access, including Web surfing, e-mail, instant messaging, and access to corporate e-mail and network systems.
AirTran did not announce a pricing scheme for the Wi-Fi service.
"We feel that Wi-Fi on every flight gives us a distinct competitive advantage over other airlines," Bob Fornaro, chairman, president and CEO of AirTran Airways, said in a statement. "Our passengers will know with confidence that no matter which flight they are on, the airplane cabin will be their mobile office, social network, online mall or whatever they want it to be."
Once the aircraft has reached 35,000 feet, users can turn on their Wi-Fi-enabled devices, open their browsers and be directed to the Gogo portal page, where they sign up and begin surfing. Gogo is powered by the Aircell air-to-ground system, which uses three small antennas installed outside the aircraft and connects to Aircell's exclusive nationwide mobile broadband network.
"Now that Gogo is here and available, passenger demand has taken off, exceeding even our own expectations. We look forward to enabling AirTran to provide the productivity, entertainment, information and social connectivity its passengers want," said Jack Blumenstein, president and CEO of Aircell.
Aircell won an exclusive frequency license from the Federal Communications Commission in 2006 to offer airline wireless services. In addition, the Aircell network provides airlines with connectivity to operations and a path to enhanced cabin services such as video, audio and television.