'Nose-to-tail' wifi will keep the high-flyers happy
WIFI INTERNET access looks like being the next frontier for airlines globally, which might explain why bookmaker Paddy Power this week offered odds of 5/4 on it being the next charge that Ryanair will look to introduce.
US airline giant United isn’t hanging about either. The Chicago-based carrier, which flies to Dublin, Shannon and Belfast, has been working with Panasonic Avionics Corporation and Live TV to develop kit that can be offered to passengers on a flight to support wifi access.
“Our international aircraft will have it nose to tail,” Mark Bergsrud, United’s senior vice-president of marketing proclaimed boldly at its media day in Chicago this week.
The technology will be satellite-based, with Panasonic Avionics having developed an antenna for each aircraft that it claims will be able to provide sufficient bandwidth to meet the needs of all those on board.
One Airbus aircraft has already been used to test the kit and United hopes to have up to 300 planes fitted with the capability by the end of 2013.
United has yet to reveal its pricing model for the service, which will allow passengers to keep in touch with their office during the flight and offers the opportunity for people to watch sports events live.
The downside is that passengers will eventually be expected to bring their own devices to watch movies or listen to music with in-flight entertainment units probably becoming obsolete.
A report this year from the Chaddick Institute showed that one in 12 airline passengers is already using their own tablets on flights.
United said such a development is still years away but the day when you could enjoy a few hours of being out of touch while flying appear to be numbered.