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While Australia’s airlines have yet to show much interest in offering in-flight internet, on the other side of the Pacific services are becoming as commonplace as in-flight Starbucks coffee.
By the end of next year travellers on most Delta Air Lines routes inside the US will be able to surf the web and catch-up on email during their flight.
Delta, which is the world's largest airlines based on its 161 million passengers carried last year, is leading the inflight Wi-Fi charge. The airline recently finished installing Wi-Fi on its mainline fleet – the larger planes travelling between America’s main cities.
Next year it will roll out internet inflight access on the 223 regional aircraft flying to less popular destinations. The airline will also offer Wi-Fi on its shuttle services between New York and Boston or Chicago and Washington DC. These planes tend to carry less than 100 passengers, but include first class cabins – Delta’s goal is to offer Wi-Fi on every flight with a first class option.
The technology on-board Delta’s fleet is powered by Gogo Inflight Internet. It’s a service using a network of EV-DO mobile towers configured to point at the sky. Aircraft pick up the signals and distribute them internally using standard Wi-Fi.
Gogo charges a standard US$12.95 for access during a single flight, but there are packages including a US$34.95 unlimited monthly pass. The passes are not locked to airlines, but are only available in North America, where the network is.
If you're heading over to the US during the Christmas/New Year period, inflight internet with Gogo is free, as part of a Google promotion.
See our full guide to the best airlines for inflight internet.