Alaska Air rolls out trial in-flight Internet service

Wireless connection lets passengers browse Web while in the air

Posted: Monday, March 09, 2009

Alaska Airlines launched a trial version of its new satellite-based in-flight wireless Internet service on Feb. 26.

Alaska Airlines' passengers will now be able to engage in a range of activities, including browsing the Web; accessing online music, games, podcasts and webcasts; sending and receiving e-mail; and connecting to virtual private networks on a specially equipped Boeing 737-700.

"We're thrilled to be able to offer our passengers a way to stay connected to what matters most to them while en route to their destinations," Steve Jarvis, the airline's vice president of marketing, sales and customer experience, said in a written release. "This is a service that everyone can use, whether it's for business or entertainment. Our service gives passengers a choice in how they spend their time while traveling and enhances the in-flight experience."

The trial service will be free initially. The service began on an afternoon flight Feb. 26 between Seattle and San Jose, Calif., and will run for about 60 days.

The in-flight service can be used on any wi-fi-enabled device, such as a laptop, smart phone or portable media player.

Voice over Internet protocol and cell phone service will not be accessible, according to airline officials.

The aircraft equipment has been tested and has received airworthiness certification from the FAA. As of the date of the launch of the service trial, both the FAA and Federal Communications Commission have given approvals, according to Alaska Air spokeswoman Jessica Luhrs.

After a successful trial period, the airline will determine the schedule for rolling out wireless Internet service to its entire fleet. Alaska Airlines is currently collecting feedback from customers about pricing.

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