A cool rundown of airplane WiFi

Going to fly on a carrier you don’t know much about?  And are you a business traveler, ready to do some billable hours at 36,000 feet?  Here’s a good rundown of airlines – US and global – and the status of their WiFi availability.

LInk: http://www.northjersey.com/news/transportation/160154615_Plugged-in_airlines_.html?page=all

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BLAH! I say to ground based internet service!

Okay, so we’re going SEA -> ORD.  That route TYPICALLY takes us over the United States.  I mean it’s not like we’re detouring over the Yukon Territories or anything.  So I go to check my Facebook page and I get this:

No Internet Available

100 miles from the US Boarder?  No…  Below 10,000 feet?  No, we’re at 32,000 feet.  Ooh.  Because we’re of bumfuck Montana, where there only exists sheep and other beasties, and not a satellite tower in place.  sigh This is why ground based internet services, like GoGo Inflight Internet, ultimately suck, and satellite based internet services, like Row44, don’t suck.

Oh, and once it did come back, 10 minutes later, I finally read GoGo’s welcome message:

No Porn Please!

Like that?  Read it again:

Please be aware that the content you browse may be visible to passengers around you.

Translation?

No porn please!

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When good business decisions go bad

Usually a company will make a business decision, evaluate, and then implement. I’m going to pick on a company that I personally love, because they are about to do this very thing. But they made the wrong decision. It’s about Alaska Airlines and their commitment to WiFi aboard all of their planes.

Yeah, on-board servicing is good.  Airlines make billions of dollars in “add on” fees.  In 2009, the largest airlines combined to make almost eight BILLION ($8,000,000,000) in fees ALONE!  So adding something like WiFi, which is a nominal amount of capital for a large return, is a no brainer.  Alaska tested a service called Row 44 for their WiFi service on N644AS, a 737-800.  And it was GOOD.  Excellent service, because it was satellite based, not ground-transmitter based.  I used it, several times.  Blazing speeds, perfect results.  I was even able to stream video from my home television via my Slingbox, and had PERFECT service.  How’s that for watching an NHL playoff game on a plane that has no onboard entertainment, sans digEplayer units that contain static content?

All was perfect.  Customers were happy.  Customers were able to use the service no matter where Alaska flew.  And then Alaska grew.  They weren’t only going to be in Alaska and the “lower 48” (plus Mexico and Canada), but as of this fall, 10% of their market will be service to Hawaii, from several West Coast cities.

And then Alaska threw out Row 44 in favor of Aircell.  A service that is LAND based.  A service that means NO service on flights to Hawaii.  And problems outside 100 miles of the 48 states, so as for Mexico and Canada service, not so much.  And even flights to the namesake state of Alaska will be hampered until you are in US airspace.

What kind of plan is that?  It’s a plan that’ not so good.  When you are going to admit that you are already going to cut out profit potential by about 15% to 20% (10% Hawaiian service, probably another 5% to 10% in service to Mexico, Canada, and travel to Alaska via Canada), that is a business model couched in failure.  But why are they doing  it?  Well Southwest wants to get their planes outfitted with Row 44.  So Alaska is going to get on the Aircell/GoGo In Flight Internet bandwagon along with American, Delta, blah blah blah.

Add WiFi to planes.  Good.  Sacrifice a good business plan for an asinine reason?  Come on, Alaska.  You’re better than that!

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