May 14, 2009
Posted: 12:59 PM ET
AirTran made a bunch of news yesterday for announcing that it will have Wi-Fi on all of its planes by summer.
The airline claims to be the first to do this. But saying which airline is ahead of another in terms of mile-high Internet offerings is a bit dizzying. Virgin tells the Dallas Morning News that it will actually be the first to have an entire fleet of planes equipped for Wi-Fi. Virgin's fleet is much smaller than AirTran's, though. And Delta, which has more planes than either, may actually have more planes fitted with wireless Internet than AirTran by summer, but it's not the whole Delta fleet. American also jumped into the mix, according to engadget.
So that race is messy and tough to call. What's clear is that Wi-Fi is becoming a mainstream thing - and airlines are using the technology as a way to one-up each other. This wasn't always the case. A few years ago, the common thinking was that customers weren't willing pay extra for the service, according to news reports.
On the cultural side of this change, the NYT blog says airplane Wi-Fi means there's one less place you can go to disconnect from the Web:
My big question while reading all of this was technological: Why does Wi-Fi work in a plane when flight attendants still ask passengers to turn off their iPods?
Thank you, Slate, for having the answer:
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