Brad Feld

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Wi-Fi on Airplanes Finally Coming

Dec 21, 2009
Category Technology

I’m not on an airplane again until 2010 (1/6/10 to be exact when I head to Las Vegas for CES) which is a relief since I flew 87 segments 2009.  Ok – not as much as Ryan Bingham in Up in the Air (very good BTW) but enough to decide to boycott United whenever possible.

One pleasant surprise on a flight from DEN to OAK on SWA was the presence of Wi-Fi.  I paid my $12 and worked online for two hours instead of using my airplane sleeping superpower.  Little did I know that I was on one of the four planes in the SWA fleet of 500 that had Wi-Fi according to the Gizmodo Complete Inflight Wi-Fi Cheat Sheet.

I think 2010 is the year that Wi-Fi will finally roll out across the domestic airline fleet.  It’s been in the works since 2000 and I remembered waiting, and waiting, and waiting for Connexion to roll out.  And then forgetting about it.  Until sometime earlier this year when Virgin America started offering in-flight Wi-Fi and quickly became my (and many of my friends) method of transport between the east coast and the west coast.  Todd Dagres from Spark Capital nailed it when he tweeted (presumably from an airplane) “True fact – planes with WiFi travel 2x faster than planes without.”

There is something magical about sitting on a seat in a giant metal tube that is flying 30,000 feet above the earth and playing FarmVille.  It finally feels like this is going to happen in 2010.  Hopefully there will be a lot more FarmVille than Skype on airplanes, although if everyone on the plane is on Skype at the same time it probably won’t bother anyone – too much. 

If you are traveling on a flight using Gogo Inflight Internet, My Money Blog has published a set of promotional codes that will give you free Wi-Fi through 1/7/10.  Oh – and join the Gizmodo Mile High Club while you are at it.

And one final question – is it “Wi-Fi” or “WiFi”?  That’ll keep the airline marketing weenies busy for a while trying to figure out the right answer.