- January 15, 2013 04:43pm EST
Travelers on United Airlines will soon be able to check their email or browse the Web while crossing the pond.
United said today that it has added satellite-based Wi-Fi Internet connectivity on some of its international wide-body aircraft.
“[This] makes us the first U.S.-based international carrier to offer customers the ability to stay connected while traveling on long-haul overseas routes,” United said in a statement.
United’s Boeing 747-400 serves trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific routes, and is now equipped with Panasonic Avionics Corporation’s Ku-band satellite technology. This provides customers with faster in-flight Internet service than they get from the air-to-ground tech most travelers have experienced on domestic flights, United said.
Two Airbus 319 aircraft that travel domestically also now have Ku-band satellite Wi-Fi. By the end of 2013, United expects to complete installation of satellite-based Wi-Fi on 300 mainline aircraft, including the Boeing 737, 757, 767, 777 and 787 and the Airbus 320.
“Satellite-based Wi-Fi service enables us to better serve our customers and offer them more of what they want in a global airline,” Jim Compton, United vice chairman and chief revenue officer, said in a statement. “With this new service, we continue to build the airline that customers want to fly.”
When launched, standard Internet service will cost between $3.99 and $14.99, depending on the length of your flight. Service with boosted speeds will also be available for $5.99 – $19.99. Any device that can tap into Wi-Fi – like smartphones, laptops, and tablets – can jump on to United’s network.
In related news, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has recommended that pilots not be able to use personal wireless devices while the aircraft is in flight.
“The proposed rule would prohibit flightcrew members … from using a personal wireless communications device or laptop computer for personal use while at their duty station on the flight deck while the aircraft is being operated,” the FAA said. “This rule, which conforms FAA regulations with recent legislation, is intended to ensure that certain non-essential activities do not contribute to the challenge of task management on the flight deck or a loss of situational awareness due to attention to non-essential tasks.”
The rules do not apply to technology that has been deployed by the airline to help during the flight, but to the personal use of gadgets during a flight. Using an iPad as a flight bag? Fine. Updating your Facebook status? No.
For more from Chloe, follow her on Twitter @ChloeAlbanesius.
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