Most in-flight wireless Internet only works when your plane is over land, which isn't much use on intercontinental flights. Now United is introducing a new system that works over oceans, perfect for those long-haul flights to Asia or Europe.
Generally, the in-flight Internet that we get on airplanes comes from providers that use land-based ground stations and repeaters, which doesn't help much when you're flying over water. United's new system, on the other hand, uses a satellite link that provides global coverage as well as much faster downloads.
While just one satellite Internet equipped 747 is rolling out today, United says that it plans to have the system installed of 300 of its larger planes by the end of the year. Hot on its heels is Delta, which plans to start equipping planes with satellite Internet early this year, with its whole fleet to be covered by 2015.
United says that the cost for the service will range from $4 to $20, depending on the duration of the flight and which of two connection speeds you choose. That sounds like a pretty good deal compared to the hideous charges for satellite Internet on a recent cruise ship I was on. I just hope those seat potatoes don't hog all of the power outlets.