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Depending on how you look at it, one of the best, or worst, parts of international flying is the lack of internet access. Some people are happy to disconnect for a long-haul oceanic flight—kick back, watch movies, get some sleep, and worry about the emails that streamed in when they get to their destination.
Me, I’d rather stay connected even while I’m in the air. Whenever possible, I take domestic flights I know are equipped with WiFi, and that’s one of the reasons I’ve been so loyal to Delta. The airline has been an industry leader in the US for WiFi availability aboard its planes—over 800 of its planes including Delta Connection regional jets and all 550 of its domestic mainline aircraft have it already.
United only offers it on its p.s. transcontinental routes (with plans to equip 300 of its planes with WiFi in the coming years),US Airways it on their A321 aircraft, Virgin America’s planes have it (if only their frequent flyer program were better!) and American is at least starting to put it on its domestic fleet as well, though not as quickly as I’d like since I still get stuck on flights without internet access. (Right now over 300 AA planes have it, including all 767-200 aircraft, with the goal of putting it on all 737′s and MD80′s by the end of 2012, and all 757′s next year). AirTran has wifi on all their planes as well and Alaska Airlines has it on select 737 planes.
Following the lead of a few international airlines like Emirates and Qantas, who has been trial-ing WiFi aboard its A380’s from Sydney and Melbourne to LA, however, Delta just announced it will begin offering in-flight internet service beginning in early 2013 on its long-haul international fleet, which is comprised of over 150 aircraft, including Boeing 747, 757, 767 and 777, and Airbus 330 aircraft. Cathay is planning to roll out WiFi trials on its international fleet this year, and Singapore Airlines is expected to as well.
So for all you shirkers out there, your days of disconnecting might be numbered as we enter a new age of internationally available WiFi. For the rest of you fellow worker bees, those frantic mad dashes to send a last email before the cabin door closes might soon be behind us as well.
But what do you think?