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Few People Are Using Wi-Fi on Airplanes, But It's Early Yet

Wi-Fi FlyingAlthough a number a major airlines have gone to great pains in offering Wi-Fi connectivity on their flights, few passengers are buying. USA Today says that "some analysts" estimate that on-board Wi-Fi adoption tops out at around 10-percent of a given plane's passengers. We at Switched rely on the Internet to make our coffee, pump our blood and give our poor lives some meaning, so we have no idea what's wrong with these people.

Maybe everyone's balking at the prices. Leading provider Gogo, which has partnered with eight large airlines, offers access for somewhere between $4.95 and $12.95, depending on the length of the flight. Of course, flying is getting more expensive in and of itself, what with the fees for ancillary services like extra bag handling and changing reservations. In the first quarter of this year, airlines pulled $769 million in baggage fees alone, a substantial jump from the $578 million earned in the same period last year.

But rising costs aren't keeping people from flying. In fact, the International Air Transport Association reports that airlines saw their number of passenger increase by 11.7-percent in May of this year, as compared to May of 2009, and that passenger traffic is now 1-percent above pre-recession levels. (The May 2010 figure, though, could be skewed by all those tourists stranded as the result of Eyjafjallajökull's little volcanic hiccup over the Atlantic back in April.)

Maybe people just want to disconnect for a bit, which seems crazy to us, but may be entirely pleasant for people who don't require RSS feeds to function. Still, the U.S. commercial airline fleet only has about 950 planes fitted with Wi-Fi, and will see about 1,000 more upgraded by year's end, so it's a little early to write off in-air Internet. [From: USA Today]

Tags: airlines, airplane, gogo, inflightwifi, top, travel, wi-fi, wifi