Posted January 15, 2009 by Zak Patten
"Fashionably late." It's a cliche, but when you're attending a party, it's always better to be sure you won't arrive while your host is still showering. United Airlines seems to be banking on similar feelings from its passengers when it comes to in-flight Internet service, which the carrier has just announced it will boot up on "p.s." transcontinental flights between New York and California later this year.
United isn't exactly sending shockwaves through the travel industry by teaming up with Aircell to operate that company's Gogo Wi-Fi service. As we saw back in November, five other U.S. airlines— American, Continental, Delta, JetBlue, and Virgin America—have some level of onboard wireless Internet already, most of it Gogo.
United is only offering wireless on its p.s. flights, which come with more amenities and greater comfort in all classes of service, and it's charging a flat fee of $12.95 for the entire flight. The other airlines mentioned above have similarly restrictive Internet service for about the same price.
If United is simply sticking with the pack, and not getting a head start, what is its value proposition to the us? Well, if you're the type of passenger who wants to kick back in your comfy seat and log on to the Internet, maybe you're also chilled out enough to appreciate the airline's "fashionable" timing.
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