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Today I had a really long flight. A friend of mine mentioned before that there will be WLAN (wifi) on board of this airline on long-haul flight. I couldn't really believe it and indeed, there was no Internet accessible.

However, I wonder if there is any airline that offers WLAN at least on some of their flights? And if yes, how is the quality? I imagine that they would have to use a satellite uplink so that the latency will be very high. So no online gaming possible. And if I remember correctly, most airlines forbid to use any form of wireless communication.

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Numerous airlines worldwide have inflight WiFi.

Within the US, Wifi is available on at certain flights from (at least) the following airlines : Air Tran (All planes), Alaska, American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, SouthWest, United (p.s. flights only), US Airways, Virgin

The majority of these airlines use ground-based connections, using technology similar to mobile phone data connections. Most use technology and services from GoGo.

A smaller number of airlines use trialing Satellite-based systems, which obviously work better for routes over water (eg, trans-Pacific or trans-Atlantic). Row 44 is the most common provider in this space.

Performance is generally suitable for general web browsing, but not for services such as video streaming. In fact, most services specifically block video streaming services like NetFlix.

Internet service is only available above 10,000 feet (similar to other electronic devices).

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In Europe it isn't common yet, but at least Norwegian now offers free inflight wifi: "By year-end 2012, the goal is to have in-flight WiFi in our entire European fleet." I tried it on a Rome-Helsinki flight last month; worked great. –  Jonik Dec 27 '12 at 10:32
    
Update: Many US airlines now provide Internet service gate-to-gate, not just above 10,000 feet, and small electronic devices (tablets, phones in airplane mode) can be used through the entire flight. –  Nate Eldredge Apr 21 at 21:42
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Lufthansa has WLAN in its long-haul aircrafts (A330, A340, A380 and Boeing 747). The thing is called FlyNet. This service is available in the skies of Europe, the North Atlantic and North America. Of course, you can do gaming, but at a rate of 10.95 EUR per hour you must be quite addicted to your games ;-). You can also redeem Miles for WLAN access.

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Definitely! Although frustratingly for me, the only flight I've been on with it, they informed us it wasn't available over the ocean (and I was flying from Hawaii...).

However, if you look at Wikipedia you can see a bit of information about it. In the US alone, there are 16 airlines with wifi onboard, and Delta alone has over 500 aircraft with inflight wifi. Free - not usually, but definitely available.

Gogo Inflight Internet is the most common provider in these cases, and indeed their wiki page has a list of airlines in the US offering. To quote:

Gogo service began on American Airlines in July 2008. The first routes served were JFK to San Francisco, JFK to LAX, and JFK to Miami. They are currently expanding to include Gogo service on the full American Airlines domestic fleet.

On August 5, 2008, Delta Air Lines announced it would install Gogo on all its domestic aircraft, which has since been completed. Recently, Delta announced that Gogo service would be expanded to include its full fleet of Delta regional jets. but a 2009 merger with Northwest Airlines added to the fleet. By early April 2010, 437 of 540 aircraft in the combined domestic fleet offered Wi-Fi, with remaining installations expected by summer 2010.

Virgin America became the first airline with fleetwide in-flight Internet access, in March 2009.

On July 14, 2009, AirTran Airways completed installation of Gogo on 136 of its aircraft.

October 2, 2009 saw the launch of Gogo on United Airlines' p.s. flight 23 from New York to Los Angeles. The company plans to have Gogo installed on its entire p.s. fleet by November 6, 2009.

On November 20, 2009 Gogo announced that Air Canada has begun trials of the Gogo system on select Toronto-Los Angeles and Montreal-Los Angeles flights which occur in large part over the continental US.

On February 24, 2010, Alaska Airlines announced that it will offer Gogo on its full fleet. The full fleet installation was completed in the fall of 2011.

On March 29, 2010, US Airways announced that all its Airbus A321 fleet would offer Gogo by June 1, 2011. The full fleet installation was completed in the fall of 2011.

On February 5, 2012 Frontier Airlines announced that it had equipped all of its Embraer E190 aircraft with Gogo to begin service on February 6, 2012.

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