Alaska Airlines seals in-flight Wi-Fi deal

Alaska Airlines has announced that nearly its entire fleet of aircraft will have Wi-Fi connectivity by the end of the year. The airline signed the deal yesterday after completing tests with multiple potential technology providers.

In the end, Aircell took the contract and will thus be providing its Gogo Internet service to the fleet of Boeing planes. Gogo is the undisputed leader in in-flight Wi-Fi service. Its technology powers Internet connectivity on Delta, Virgin America, AirTran, Air Canada, American Airlines, and United Airlines. On top of that, contracts are already in place to add the service to Continental Airlines and US Airways.

The only real competitor is Row 44, a company that pays its bills through is only airline partner in Southwest Airlines. Alaska Air had considered going with Row 44 but decided to go with the more popular choice. “We are disappointed we could not work out a mutually agreeable business relationship,” said Row 44’s CEO John Guidon.

Ironically, though, Aircell currently has no service in most of Alaska. Its focus is entirely on the contiguous 48 states. “Eventually we will offer connectivity to key destinations in Alaska,” said the airline’s manager of product development and market research, Chase Craig.

In addition to flying throughout the largest state in the country, Alaska Airlines has routes within the lower 48, spanning from southern California to Boston. It is also a codeshare partner with Delta.

The airline will target its 737-800 aircraft first, followed in order by 737-900, 737-700, and 737-400 planes. However, its 747-400 Combi planes will not receive Gogo retrofitting.