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Wi-Fi Airlines: Nerd Birds Take to the Air

26 September 2012 1,529 views No Comment

As fliers flock to pay-to-play inflight wi-fi, airlines are rushing to rollout nerd bird services on all of their planes

Although free wi-fi doesn’t yet grow on trees, pretty much every Earthbound McDonalds, Tim Horton’s, Taco Bell and Starbucks store offers it. Finding an open access point at 30,000 feet, however, is different matter entirely. Yet as fliers flock to pay-to-play inflight wi-fi, airlines are rushing to rollout nerd bird services on all of their planes.

Chicago Tribune, quoting a study by startup RouteHappy, reports that only 31 percent of domestic flights offer wi-Fi service. But not all airlines are equal in this important regard and nerd bird flights are proliferating:

• 0.5 percent of United daily flights
— The airline says its skies will be 100 percent wi-fi friendly by 2015

• On US Airways, just 8 percent do

• 22 percent of American flights have it

• Southwest serves up wi-fi on 37 percent of daily takeoffs
— Your bags fly free, but email doesn’t

• About 65 percent of Delta flights offer it

• Virgin America and AirTran have 100 percent wi-fi coverage

Inflight wi-fi generally isn’t cheap with prices starting at $5 for mobile devices and ranging as high as $49 to check your email with a computer. Airport WiFi Guide offers flight and pricing information for most participating US airlines.

The Discerning Nerd Bird

The savvy traveler can do better with Gogo Inflight Internet, which offers daily ($12.70) and monthly ($34.95 and up) passes covering individual and all participating airlines — click through for details.

Lastly, there is at least one airline that doesn’t charge for inflight wi-fi. Norwegian, which doesn’t fly to San Francisco let alone San Antonio or Buffalo, says all of its (European) routes will be nerd bird friendly by the end of 2012.

Paying too much for inflight wi-fi? Sound off in the comments…

image SFGate

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