Airline laptop & wifi updates Sept 2008

American, BA, Iberia Form Transatlantic Alliance

Airlines continue to seek scale by working ever more closely together. The latest example of this is the business agreement between American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia. The airlines say the deal will give their customers more destinations to choose from while helping the airlines to save money and attract new customers, which in turn would ease the upward pressure on airfares due to rising fuel costs.

Fuel prices are dropping but continue to take their toll, as evidenced by the shutdown of the discount transatlantic carrier Zoom Airlines (Source: American, BA, Iberia press releases and Zoom website).

American, Delta Offer WiFi
In-flight Delta Air Lines made its´ announcement first but American Airlines was first out of the gate with in-flight WiFi. American now has inflight WiFi on its Boeing 767-200s flying between New York and San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The service costs $12.95 on flights of more than three hours; travelers simply turn on their WiFi enabled devices, including laptops, smart phones and PDAs, once they hit 10,00 feet and are connected to Aircell’s Gogo portal, the WiFi provider, where they sign up for the service. Delta, meanwhile, will offer WiFi on its domestic fleet of 330 mainline aircraft, also with Gogo, introducing it on its MD 88/99 aircraft this fall and rolling it out fleet wide in the first half of 2009. The service will cost $9.95 on flights or three hours or less and $12.95 on flights of three hours or more. (Source: American, Delta press releases).

TSA Lets You Leave Your Laptop in Some Bags
The Transportation Security Administration will now let you leave your laptop in its bag when you go through security as long as it meets new checkpoint friendly standards.

These bags should have a designated laptop-only section; they must completely unfold to lie flat on the X-ray belt; no metal snaps, zippers or buckles inside, underneath or on top of the laptop-only section; no pockets on the inside or outside of the laptop-only section and packed in the laptop-only section other than the computer itself.

The TSA worked with laptop bag manufacturers to come up with the new standards. (Source: TSA press release).

Airline Eliminates Life Jackets
Air Canada Jazz is eliminating life-jackets, calling them redundant since seats act as flotation devices. Transport Canada permits flotation devices, like the seats, instead of life jackets if the planes fly within 90 kilometers of shore.

The seat cushions lift off and have restraints on the bottom through which passengers can slip their arms through. There will be life jackets available for infants. The idea is to save on weight
and fuel. (Source: Travel Pulse Daily).

United Furloughs Flight Attendants, Tests Charging for Meals Over Atlantic
United Airlines is furloughing 1,500 flight attendants as a result of flight reductions it announced this summer. That is about 10 percent of its cabin workers and part of its efforts to cut 7,000 jobs by the end of 2009. It also began testing charging for in-flight meals over the Atlantic.

On transatlantic flights out of Dulles, it is testing selling Buy on Board options, including sandwiches, salads and snack boxes. It will evaluate results at year’s end. (Source: press reports, United press release).

Americans Divided on Inflight Cell Phone Use
In-flight wireless services could presage in-flight cell phone use. Americans are divided on whether or not passengers should be able to use their cell phones in-flight, according to a study by the Department of Transportation.

The younger you are, the more likely you are to favor it-almost half (47.7 percent) of 18- to 34-year-olds approved of the idea. Only a quarter of those over 65 favored the move; those between 35 and 64 almost evenly divided-40 percent say they should allowed, 46 percent said they should not and the rest aren’t sure. Source: DOT press release).