News Southwest joins broadband-ready airlines

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Southwest joins broadband-ready airlines

In-flight broadband connections could soon be the standard to aspire to.

In-flight broadband connections could soon be the standard to aspire to, as various airlines seek to ready their aircraft for the new passenger service.

Southwest Airlines has declared its ambition to become the first US carrier to trial satellite-delivered broadband Internet access on various aircraft, promising that customers with a wi-fi enabled device will soon be able to surf the web from 30,000 feet.

American Airlines and Virgin Atlantic have also signalled their readiness for in-flight wi-fi, with Southwest now joining them in awaiting approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

JetBlue, Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Qantas are other airlines to have flocked to Wi-Fi development programmes, but a recent survey has suggested that the competition for in-flight connectivity may be overblown.

A recent Orbitz study sought the responses of business travellers to the idea of in-flight web connections, finding that only eight per cent considered it important enough to take a "less convenient or more expensive" flight for.

Meanwhile, a further 56 per cent did not think that internet access onboard a flight was a necessity, leaving 36 per cent claiming that a Wi-Fi-equipped flight would be a bonus, but would not be worth shopping around for.