Air China, the world’s largest carrier by market capitalisation and also the world’s most profitable airline, begins inflight wifi trials on a Boeing 737-800 flight departing from the Beijing Capital Airport tomorrow. As soon as it receives approval from regulators, it will begin rolling out the service starting from its domestic flights. And the best part of it all is, they’re not looking to charge us a single cent for it!
The airline said, however, that the wifi network will be limited to just within the flight and its ultimate goal was to realise earth-to-air communications. We’re not quite sure what this really means. If their so-called inflight wifi is just nothing more than an on-board Local Area Network that allows you to play stupid games with other bored passengers, what good is it for? We want to be able to send emails, facebook, tweet and Whatsapp with our friends!
In the United States, 1,260 passenger aircraft, or about a third of all domestic flights, are now fitted with inflight wifi access. By 2013, half of all flights within the United States will be wired up.
Chinese airlines are just now beginning to play catch-up and the action is set to heat up early 2012.
UPDATE: Charles Custer of tech blog Penn Olson confirms that Air China’s new service is just nothing but glorified LAN.