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United Launches Satellite-Based Wi-Fi Service

United Launches Satellite-Based Wi-Fi Service

United has introduced onboard satellite-based wi-fi Internet connectivity on the first of its international widebody aircraft, becoming the first US-based international carrier to offer customers the ability to stay connected while travelling on long-haul overseas routes.

United Logo

The aircraft, a Boeing 747 outfitted with Panasonic Avionics Corporation’s Ku-band satellite technology, serves transatlantic and transpacific routes. United has also outfitted Ku-band satellite wi-fi on two Airbus 319 aircraft serving domestic routes, offering customers faster inflight Internet service than air-to-ground technology (ATG). The company expects to complete installation of satellite-based wi-fi on 300 mainline aircraft by the end of this year.

United Wi-Fi

Customers have the choice of two speeds: Standard, priced initially between $3.99 and $14.99 depending on the duration of flight; and Accelerated, priced initially between $5.99 and $19.99 and offering faster download speeds than Standard.

United will install satellite-based wi-fi on Airbus 319 and 320 aircraft, and on Boeing 737, 747, 757, 767, 777 and 787 aircraft. Customers will be able to use their wireless devices such as laptops, smartphones and tablets onboard those aircraft to connect with Internet service using the inflight hotspot.

Fleet Upgrades

United is upgrading its fleet with more than US$550 million in additional onboard improvements, including:

*  Offering the world’s largest fleet of aircraft with flat-bed seats, with more than 175 aircraft with 180-degree flat beds in premium cabins once the airline completes the installation in the second quarter

*  Expanding extra-legroom Economy Plus seating to provide the most such seating of any US carrier

*  Revamping the transcontinental ‘p.s.’ fleet of aircraft that fly between New York JFK and Los Angeles and San Francisco, offering an improved premium cabin with fully flat beds, wi-fi Internet service, and personal on-demand entertainment at every seat

*  Improving inflight entertainment options with streaming video content on the Boeing 747-400 fleet

*  Retrofitting overhead bins on 152 Airbus aircraft, allowing for significantly greater storage of carry-on baggage.

Baggage Delivery by BagsVIP

United has also launched, for passengers departing from any US domestic airport, a new baggage delivery option, enabling customers to have their checked bags delivered directly to their final destinations – within 100 miles of their arrival airports – and skip baggage claim on arrival.

Baggage delivery by BagsVIP will initially be available to customers departing from any domestic airport and arriving in Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles and Orlando. The airline plans to expand the service to more than 190 domestic airports in the coming months.

“United’s new baggage delivery service offers an alternative for travellers who prefer the convenience of having their checked bags delivered directly to their homes, offices or hotels,” said Tom O’Toole, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Loyalty. “Our customers have told us this type of option adds value to their travel experience.”

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NEIL STEEDMAN has been a trade journalist, editor and proofreader for 53 years, and ITTN's News & Features Editor for 43 years. His travel blog is at www.thetravelbuddhist.com.

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