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United Airlines Becomes First U.S. Carrier to Offer Wi-Fi on International Flights

Travelers Today       By    Katie McFadden

Updated: Jan 16, 2013 11:32 AM EST

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A horrifying situation can happen when an airline pilot suddenly has a heart attack while flying. However luckily, a bomber pilot was on board a December United Airlines flight to help bring the plane to safety. (Photo : Reuters)

United Airlines has launched satellite-based Wi-Fi on an international flight, making it the first U.S. airline to offer the service on a long overseas trip.

United has added Wi-Fi connectivity on a Boeing 747 through Panasonic Avionics Corporation's Ku-band satellite technology. The flight follows  trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific routes.

The airline also introduced the technology on two Airbus 319 jets which fly domestically. The use of the satellite will bring faster inflight Internet service than the past air-to-ground technology that is often used.

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These additions are just the beginning for United and they plan to install satellite-based Wi-Fi on 300 flights by the end of 2013.

"Satellite-based Wi-Fi service enables us to better serve our customers and offer them more of what they want in a global airline," said Jim Compton , vice chairman and chief revenue officer at United in a release. "With this new service, we continue to build the airline that customers want to fly."

While the satellite-based Wi-Fi will provide a faster Internet connection, the faster service will come at a slightly higher price. There are two speed options. The standard option is priced between $3.99 and $14.99 depending on how long the flight is. The accelerated, or faster option is priced initially between $5.99 and $19.99.

The satellite-based Wi-Fi will eventually be installed on several Airbus 319 and 320 aircrafts and Boeing 737, 747, 757, 767, 777 and 787 aircrafts. It will allow passengers to use their laptops, smart phones, tablets and other wireless devices while on board.

This advancement is just one of many that United is adopting. The company is spending more than $550 million on improvements such as flat-bed seats in premium cabins, more leg room in Economy Plus seats, creating more overhead bin space, and improving inflight entertainment.



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