Inflight Wi-Fi Expands, But Most Cos. Won't Reimburse For Its Use - Business Travel News

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Inflight Wi-Fi Expands, But Most Cos. Won't Reimburse For Its Use

June 01, 2010 - 12:00 AM ET

By Jay Boehmer

Despite the rapid proliferation of wireless Internet access on domestic aircraft, most companies do not reimburse travelers who elect to log on in the air, according to a recent Business Travel News survey.

Of the 230 respondents who guide corporate travel policy within their organizations, only 34 percent said it's OK for travelers to unsheathe their corporate cards to access Wi-Fi on all flights, though an additional 7 percent said they would reimburse wireless Internet access costs, but only for intercontinental or long-haul flights. The remaining 59 percent majority said travelers are on their own when it comes to paying onboard Wi-Fi expenses, regardless of the length of haul.

Nearly all major U.S. carriers have at least started outfitting some or all of their domestic fleets with Wi-Fi access. Aircell has been the industry leader in supplying commercial airlines with wireless Internet capabilities. To date, the inflight connectivity provider has installed Wi-Fi on more than 900 commercial airplanes. "Installations continue to occur almost on a daily basis," a spokesperson said.

Using Aircell's GoGo service, Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines are in the midst of a domestic fleetwide rollout, while AirTran Airways and Virgin America already have brought Wi-Fi onboard their entire fleets. Continental Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways and Air Canada have opted for Wi-Fi on select aircraft with Aircell.

Southwest Airlines said it would roll out competitor Row 44's service across its entire fleet this year, while JetBlue Airways has experimented with allowing some limited connectivity options, such as texting and e-mail, on some flights through its LiveTV subsidiary.
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