Delta Adds WiFi to Whole Fleet

Become first major airline to wirelessly enable its entire fleet by 2009
By Clay Dillow,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 5, 2008 10:46 AM CDT
The wireless clouds: Delta's deal with Airl Cell offers over-land domestic aircraft wireless connection to a series of ground-based antennas up to altitudes of 45,000 feet.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Unholster your Blackberry and sharpen your stylus; Delta will become the first major airline to offer Internet access across its entire 330-plane fleet by next summer, the Wall Street Journal reports, driven by the proliferation of handheld wireless devices and a desire among business passengers to keep working. Delta surveyed 15 of its largest corporate customers, finding “overwhelmingly they wanted to be more productive," Delta’s CEO said.

While the in-air connection offers customers choice and opens a new revenue stream to ailing airlines—$9.95 for 3-hour flights, $12.95 for longer hauls—some worry it violates society’s last unplugged sanctuary, as travelers will feel pressured to answer email rather than tune out and read a book. "Time on an airplane was either time lost or time found," one Delta VP said. "This is going to totally change the dynamics."