United Airlines Signs In-Flight WiFi Deal With iPass

Under the deal, iPass customers will be able to use their unlimited monthly WiFi subscriptions on United flights at no additional charge.

iPass, WiFi, United Airlines, on-board WiFi, in-flight WiFi, Deltas Air Lines, American Airlines, Gogo

In-flight WiFi company iPass has reached a deal with United Airlines that will allow iPass customers to obtain on-board WiFi on United flights using their existing monthly service subscription plans.

The deal will eventually add iPass connectivity to more than 700 United aircraft, with a rollout of the added services beginning in the fourth quarter, according to an announcement by iPass.

"In an increasingly connected world, ubiquitous, reliable and secure connectivity has become a requirement for mobile professionals," Gary Griffiths, CEO of iPass, said in a statement. "In-flight is a critical venue for keeping United Airlines and iPass customers connected, and United Airlines is an essential addition to our in-flight offering. We are delighted to enter into this partnership with United Airlines."

In an interview with eWEEK, Griffiths said that iPass customers will be able to access their iPass monthly subscriptions through the on-board United WiFi branded services on many of the company's aircraft. In the past, United passengers did not have access to iPass services. Under the arrangement, when the service is fully rolled out, iPass users will be able to open their devices on their flights and connect to on-board WiFi through iPass client software.

iPass is a WiFi service aggregator and does not own or operate its own network, said Griffiths. Instead, the company negotiates deals with WiFi networks such as Gogo and Panasonic Aviation to provide services to its own customers.

United already offers on-board WiFi for its customers directly through deals with Gogo and other service providers. The new partnership with iPass adds to those offerings by giving iPass subscribers the ability to use their subscriptions on United flights without having to pay per-flight service fees.

On-board WiFi services from iPass are not available to consumers but are only offered through business accounts, according to the company. Rates are based on the number of workers a business employs, and provide unlimited WiFi use on flights and on the ground in airports or any location.

A one-year annual subscription for a company with about 10 employees would pay $25 per user per month, for example, while a company with 80,000 users could get services for about $5 per user per month. The services can be used with smartphones, tablets, laptops or other devices.

Griffiths said the iPass services offer increased security over other on-board WiFi systems. iPass already provides services on other airlines, including American Airlines and Delta Air Lines.

In addition, iPass just signed a three-year partnership extension with Deutsche Telekom to continue to provide on-board WiFi services to iPass customers on eight airlines, while also adding services with another four airlines, according to an announcement by iPass. The expanded agreement will mean that iPass connectivity will be available on 330 long-haul aircraft operated by Lufthansa, Aer Lingus, Etihad, American Airlines and other carriers.

iPass has partnered with Deutsche Telekom in the past, including working with the company in November 2015 to provide its business customers with unlimited access to iPass network services through more than 50 million WiFi hotpots around the world in airports, hotels, restaurants and other public areas.