US air travellers rejoice – now you'll be able to join the digital
mile high club with the news that Delta Airlines
is to offer in-flight WiFi access on all its services.
According to Ars Technica
, the airline is planning to upgrade every last one of its aircraft with the Aircell
-provided technology allowing travellers the luxury of poking Facebook profiles from 30,000 feet. Although it's not a completely open system – P2P is unlikely, for example – the service is said to support web browsing, e-mail, instant messaging, and VPN tunnels for the corporate and/or paranoid user. What isn't
mentioned is whether voice-over-IP applications like Skype will be supported – after all, the airlines still make a pretty per-minute penny from the in-flight 'phone system, and flat-rate WiFi with VoIP support could cut into that in a major way.
The news isn't all good, either; in a move similar to the first in-flight telephones, the airline is to charge an additional fee above the cost of your ticket if you want to make use of the WiFi connection on offer. Although many will rankle at the nickel-and-diming that airlines participate in these days, the fees aren't that extortionate – especially compared to what I
once paid for two hours 'net access in a hotel on New Year's Eve: $9.95 (about £5) for flights up to three hours duration, and $12.95 (about £6.50) for longer journeys.
Despite claims from Aircell that their equipment can be retrofitted to aeroplanes overnight, Delta is sensibly allowing a full year for implementation on its 330-strong fleet. Hopefully the very fact that the system is a simple retrofit should mean Delta will avoid security concerns that have been plaguing similar systems
Would you pay a fiver to check bit-tech
from the skies, or are you capable of restraining your addiction until you reach your destination? Share your thoughts over in the forums.