United Airlines revealed as fifth Gogo customer; agrees ‘trial’

Amended to include United’s comment, non-comment, and a BBC report 

As we anticipated here at RWG, United Airlines has been revealed as Aircell’s fifth customer for Gogo in-flight Internet. A brief story is running today in Aviation Daily, which reports that United will trial Gogo this spring. Other details have not been disclosed.

Props to Aircell, which has already secured arrangements with Air Canada, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines (and, by default, merger partner Northwest Airlines), and Virgin America.

However, the word “trial” in this case is important. Is United following American’s conservative approach to trial the system for a lengthy period of time before committing to fleetwide equipage? Or will United follow Delta’s lead by committing to fleetwide installs from the onset? It would appear, at least from this report, to be the former, but I’m waiting for clarification.

A United spokeswoman would neither confirm nor deny the report.

Albatros.JPGThe news comes as rival Row 44 finds itself in the spotlight again.

The company, which is offering a Ku band-based connectivity solution (versus Aircell’s air-to-ground solution), last week took its Albatross seaplane to International CES in Las Vegas.

One BBC journalist did some airborne testing of the service, successfully completing a video call with his colleague on the ground. “She could see us, we could see her. We couldn’t hear each other unfortunately,” he says.   

At CES, executives reiterated to reporters that trials on Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines will get underway this month. 

Is American and United waiting to see the outcome of Row 44′s  trials before signing on as full-fledged clients to Gogo?

So many questions. I hope to get at least some of the answers soon. For more history on United’s in-flight Internet plans, check out my 26 December blog about the matter. 

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