Boarding Next: The Internet

Several major airlines lay groundwork for in-flight service next year
A United Airlines plane leaves San Francisco International Airport, in this July 31, 2006 file photo. United Airlines parent company UAL Corp. reported its biggest quarterly profit in seven years Tuesday,...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Several major airlines plan to roll out in-flight Internet service next year, USA Today reports. Carriers have been promising in-flight surfing for years, and now American, Lufthansa, Qantas, and Southwest are working with tech companies to deliver the midair surfing. The travel slump following 9/11 delayed the introduction of the service, which may not be widely available until 2009.

Competition for contracts to provide the service is fierce. Most carriers will use satellites to relay a signal from the plane to the ground, and passengers will probably pay a set per-flight fee. Lufthansa offered internet on its flights from 2004 to 2006, but the technology at that time was too heavy and expensive to be viable.