Aeronautical Communications Featured Article
In-Flight Connectivity Is Handy, but Expensive
Unless you’re uniquely content swirling a straw around a cup of ice and staring at the back of the seat in front of you for hours, you get bored on long flights. Alec Baldwin isn’t the only one who gets testy after being denied entertainment on airplanes. More and more airlines are providing internet service to passengers, but unlike the entire city of Monmouth, Wales, internet connectivity on flights is not free.
The alternative to boredom – getting drunk – can get you dejected from a flight, costing the airline a pretty penny – almost as much as a movie if you stream the video onto your new iPad during an international flight.
Finally, consider the necessary cost of aeronautical satellite communications in order to meet the growing demands of passengers on the verge of throwing a tantrum from being denied internet access. It’s a vicious cycle.
When Alec Baldwin was instructed by flight attendants to put away his game, “Words-with-Friends” before take-off from Los Angeles, the plane turned around and exiled him back to the terminal. It seems as if Baldwin couldn’t wait to get reconnected. Even the typical over-drinker contributes to the cost to airlines for insubordinate passengers that stall take-off, which is reported to be $5,867 an hour.
The increased demand of customers for in-flight connectivity has finally infected Europe. Portugal’s airline TAP is the first airlines in Europe connecting passengers to the Web while flying.
"Connectivity is an important part of our service offering, giving TAP a vital competitive edge as one of the first airlines to experience OnAir’s (News - Alert) services,” said TAP Portugal’s press statement. “Passengers have been enthusiastic users of in-flight connectivity whenever they have access."
Although Internet is available with the “simple swipe of a credit card,” fees are currently unknown. Delta’s Gogo service can be purchased for $12, which buys you 24 hour access. A year’s worth of in-flight Internet service is about $400. If this seems expensive, think about the cost of the cocktails to fill the void.
Users of the new iPad know that the amount of bandwidth the gadget consumes alone costs money. Take that iPad on an international flight, however, and the bill skyrockets. Reports estimate the cost of streaming a video from Hulu (News - Alert) or Netflix on a business trip out of country often reaches $5,000 – nearly the price American Airlines paid for Alec Baldwin’s tantrum.
The pleasantries of in-flight connectivity come at an even greater cost considering that aeronautical satellite communications are paramount in order to meet these demands. Wireless access communication on flights and wireless backhaul are all implemented through satellites. How much it costs to launch a satellite into space, you ask? Some sources say $400 million.
Edited by Braden Becker