United Airlines (Chicago) has introduced onboard satellite-based Wi-Fi internet connectivity on the first of its international widebody aircraft, becoming the first U.S.-based international carrier to offer customers the ability to stay connected while traveling on long-haul overseas routes.
The aircraft, a Boeing 747-400 outfitted with Panasonic Avionics Corporation’s Ku-band satellite technology, serves trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific routes.
Additionally, United has outfitted Ku-band satellite Wi-Fi on two Airbus A319 aircraft serving domestic routes, offering customers faster inflight Internet service than air-to-ground technology (ATG). The company expects to complete installation of satellite-based Wi-Fi on 300 mainline aircraft by the end of this year.
“Satellite-based Wi-Fi service enables us to better serve our customers and offer them more of what they want in a global airline,” said Jim Compton, vice chairman and chief revenue officer at United. “With this new service, we continue to build the airline that customers want to fly.”
Customers have the choice of two speeds: Standard, priced initially between $3.99 and $14.99 depending on the duration of flight, and Accelerated, priced initially between $5.99 and $19.99 and offering faster download speeds than Standard.
United will install satellite-based Wi-Fi on Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft, and on Boeing 737, 747, 757, 767, 777 and 787 aircraft. Customers will be able to use their wireless devices such as laptops, smart phones and tablets onboard those aircraft to connect with internet service using the in-flight hotspot.
United is upgrading its fleet with more than $550 million in additional onboard improvements, including:
- Offering the world’s largest fleet of aircraft with flat-bed seats, with more than 175 aircraft with 180-degree flat beds in premium cabins once the airline completes the installation in the second quarter.
- Expanding extra-legroom Economy Plus seating to provide the most such seating of any U.S. carrier.
- Revamping the transcontinental “p.s.” fleet of airplanes that fly between New York Kennedy and Los Angeles and San Francisco, offering an improved premium cabin with fully flat beds, Wi-Fi Internet service, and personal on-demand entertainment at every seat.
- Improving inflight entertainment options with streaming video content on the Boeing 747-400 fleet.
- Retrofitting overhead bins on 152 Airbus aircraft, allowing for significantly greater storage of carry-on baggage.
Copyright Photo: Keith Burton. Boeing 747-422 N177UA (msn 24384) climbs away from London (Heathrow).