But inflight wi-fi availability is common on US domestic flights
Frustratingly for frequent travellers, inflight wi-fi availability is still not common on flights around the world except on domestic flights in the United States. Gogo is the leading provider of inflight internet in the US. It began creating a network of ground-based wi-fi antennae across the US back in 2006, and this has been vital to the speedy growth of wi-fi in the air since the service began two years later. Where there are no antennae, aircraft have to rely on satellite-based communication links. Gogo says that there are currently at least 1,200 commercial aircraft in the US with wi-fi access. Outside the US, there are only about 100 with any degree of inflight connectivity.
Satellite-powered systems should offer global inflight wi-fi access from 2013. Lufthansa’s FlyNet is now available on 25 of its 102 long-haul aircraft, for example. Norwegian Air Shuttle will have satellite-based internet onboard 11 of its planes by the end of the year.
[pictured: Norwegian Boeing 737-800; Copyright: Kevin Yoo/Boeing]