Many small business owners regard flying as lost time, where they are unable to connect to the outside world. E-mails and use of the Internet are unavailable during flight time, which reduces productivity and makes in-flight adjustments to schedules or presentations impossible. United Airlines wants to change that.
The airline company will today announce that it will begin offering Wi-Fi broadband accessibility on select transcontinental flights starting in the second half of the year. The service will first benefit travelers flying from New York City to Los Angeles or San Francisco. In a joint statement, United and Aircell say they will assess customer feedback to determine additional rollout plans.
United's announcement comes nearly a month to the day after Delta Airlines announced it was teaming up with in-flight communication company Aircell to provide Wi-Fi Internet access on shuttle flights between Boston, New York and Washington, D.C. Aircell has previously partnered with American Airlines and Virgin America to offer in-flight Wi-Fi. Delta says it plans to have its entire fleet of planes covered by May 31, 2009, as well as those of its merger partner, Northwest Airlines.
United will also be using Aircell's GoGo Inflight Internet service and would charge customers a flat fee of $12.95 to access it, a similar price point to the ones Delta and American offer. "I can't think of a better way for Aircell to usher in 2009 as the year of in-flight Internet than by announcing our partnership with United," said Aircell President and CEO Jack Blumenstein. "Passengers love GoGo inflight Internet service and the freedom it gives them to be productive, connected and entertained."
Small to medium-size businesses (SMBs) face an ever-expanding array of options for connecting to the Internet outside of the office. Also in December, Novatel announced plans to release its MiFi device; a mobile router which promises to put 3G broadband wireless in your pocket. Whether traveling by land or by air, the SMB owner on the go is now more than ever able to experience uninterrupted Web access.