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Coming soon: Email, chat, and text on flights

Recently, Alaska Airlines and Virgin America announced plans to offer Wi-Fi on flights.

Starting sometime in 2008, passengers onboard Virgin America planes will have Internet access through Wi-Fi enabled personal devices or through the in-flight entertainment system at every seat. Alaska also plans to launch its in-flight wireless Internet service in 2008. The service will function not just in flights over land, but also on routes over water and across international borders.

After reading the news, the first words out of my mouth were, “Well, it sure beats using cell phones onboard.” Because while I (really) don’t want to spend an entire flight trapped next to someone yakking on their phone, I’m perfectly content to share an arm rest with someone text messaging or working on a laptop.

The only thing that worries me is the price. I haven’t yet found a mention of how much either airline intends to charge, and I suspect it’s not because it will be free. But this is one instance in which I’d love to be wrong.

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