United gives Gogo a whirl
Aircell is rapidly nearing a full hand of US majors following the announcement that United Airlines is to introduce the Gogo passenger broadband service on 13 Boeing 757s.
American Airlines, currently engaged in a 15-aircraft trial, and Delta have already signed up with Aircell, with the latter saying that in addition it will implement the service in the domestic fleet of recently acquired Northwest Airlines. Gogo is also being rolled out fleetwide by Virgin America, and Air Canada plans to offer the service in part of its fleet this spring.
Starting in the second half of this year, United will offer Gogo on p.s., the New York-Los Angeles/San Francisco premium service that it launched in 2004. p.s. is operated with 13 Boeing 757-200s configured in three classes - first, business and premium economy. Gogo will be offered in all classes for a flat fee of $12.95 per flight.
“United will assess customer feedback with us to determine additional rollout plans,” says Aircell. The airline’s decision to offer Gogo on a small, specialised fleet initially resembles the American Airlines strategy of a thorough in-service evaluation before making any commitment to a permanent and wider implementation.
American started trialling Gogo in 15 domestic Boeing 767s on August 20. “Since then the system has performed brilliantly – for something entirely new it has been very impressive,” inflight communications and technology manager Doug Backelin said at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. “We tested it thoroughly before we put it in front of our customers, and that’s paying off for us.”
The trial was scheduled to last three to six months and is now drawing to a close. “We’re talking to senior management about the data from the trial and making an assessment,” said Backelin. “But the service will continue on the 767s while the decision process is under way – it won’t be suddenly pulled. We expect to decide this year, and if we go with it we’ll look at installing Gogo across our MD-80 and Boeing 737 and 757 fleets.”