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Technology

Wi-Fi in the Sky: Delta Adding Internet to All U.S. Flights

80beatsBy Andrew MosemanAugust 6, 2008 10:31 PM

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Airfare prices are soaring, and airlines have tried to cope by charging for food, drinks, and other formerly free items. But there's one bright spot on the horizon: Passengers may soon be able to access the Net during flights—although you'll have to pay for that, too. Delta Airlines says it will beginning offering Internet access on some flights beginning as early as October, and plans to outfit the entire domestic fleet with Web capability by next summer. Fliers with Wi-Fi-enabled devices like laptops, smartphones and personal digital assistants will be able to access the Internet while in flight. The service will cost $9.95 on flights of three hours or less, and $12.95 on longer flights [The New York Times]. The Atlanta-based airline isn't the only one planning to let its passengers go online in mid-flight. Delta is trying to outmaneuver rival JetBlue, known for outfitting planes with satellite TV, and American Airlines, which is planning to launch Internet service later this year. Other airlines, including Continental, Southwest and Virgin America, are planning tests or have them underway [Washington Post]. Delta, however, is currently the only carrier to announce that it will outfit its whole U.S. fleet.

But while staying connected in the skies might seem like a blessing to some, others might feel like their last refuge from work or life has been lost. Instead of watching a movie, reading a book or trying to sleep, road warriors may feel more compelled to answer email and stay in touch with colleagues and clients. "Time on an airplane was either time lost or time found," said Tim Mapes, Delta's vice president of marketing. "This is going to totally change the dynamics of what a business trip is" [The Wall Street Journal].

Image: flickr/Andrei Dimofte

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