SmartMoney Blogs

Pay Dirt
A daily look at what we buy, how we spend, and the companies that do right - and wrong - by their customers.

CES: Attention Alec Baldwin: In-Flight Wi-Fi 4 Times Faster

Kelli B. Grant

Senior consumer reporter and “Deal of Day” columnist Kelli B. Grant travels to Las Vegas to find the best, the worst, and the most hyped gadgets at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Join her as she roams the exhibit floor for three days, with dispatches here and on Twitter @kellibgrant.

“Words With Friends” addicts like Alec Baldwin and other flyers in need of an in-air Internet fix may soon be able to get faster, uninterrupted service no matter where they fly.

GoGo, an in-flight Internet provider, plans to launch new technology during the first quarter that’s four times as fast as current connections. To put this in context: the current in-flight Wi-Fi connection is similar to a speed on a 3G cellphone. Virgin America’s fleet will get the upgrade to the new technology – called ATG4 – first, followed later by other partner airlines including Delta, United and American Airlines. Prices will remain unchanged: Depending on the length of the flight, offerings range from $1.95 for a “quick fix” 15 minutes, up to $14.95 for a cross-country flight.

GoGo is also preparing to launch a satellite in March 2013 that will enable the company to offer service on international flights, with the aim of global coverage by 2015.

Few carriers currently have Wi-Fi on every plane in their fleet, however, so there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to stay connected. And of course, improved coverage and faster speeds are no match for federal regulations that require travelers to turn off electronic devices once the aircraft cabin door closes, until it has reached cruising altitude. Even those flyers on equipped planes with $15 to spend will still have a good half-hour of tech withdrawal.


We welcome thoughtful comments from readers. Please comply with our guidelines. Our blogs do not require the use of your real name.

Comments (2 of 2)

View all Comments »
    • Steve, for the U.S. to be more like the E.U., taxes need to be much higher, geevrnmont has to be even larger, unemployment has to stay high, with a limited workweek, real GDP growth has to slow (which will also slow population growth), limited resources into emerging industries need to almost stop, consumption has to fall (from 70% to 60% of GDP), rich Americans will flee to Australia, and those not working will choose:1. A geevrnmont job.2. Government benefits.3. A private job.In that order, unless it’s a union job, then a private job is fourth.If per capita real GDP growth is unchanged, then it’s an illusion.

    • Gasteroplix I think most couples feel the need to saistfy others when planning their wedding but would rather do something else! Its a tricky one. At the end of the day its your own wedding and you should be able to do what you want. A bit controversial! And lets not get into the amount of money you need to spend on doing what you didn’t want anyway!! Your crochet at the engagement party sounds brilliant! A lovely thing for people to remember you by!

About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to or tweet @SMPayDirt.