United Airlines has taken their sweet time with getting Wifi on their planes, lagging years behind competitors like American and Delta. But it's finally here, and its speed and pricing structure seem to have been worth the wait.
On Monday, I flew United from Denver to Los Angeles on one of their new Boeing 737-900ERs. The plane was fit with Boeing Sky Interior, which is an attractive LED lighting system, combined with more spacious and ergonomically-friendly overhead bins. Prior to my flight, United's iPhone app told me the plane would have wifi available. This plane was not decked out with any inflight entertainment screens of any kind, which I've mentioned before can cost airlines a lot of money and add weight to the plane. But don't worry, the app also said the airline has plans to offer on-demand video streaming for your devices.
The wifi pricing was set at $2 per hour. Being on a two-hour flight, I felt like this was pretty generous in comparison to a flat fee that we see on other airlines that ranges from $8 and up. You can even pause the clock. So let's say you're on a 10-hour flight, and you still want to get some good sleep, you only need to purchase what you need, instead of wasting extra money on connectivity you don't need. I ran a speed test and achieved download speeds at just over 10Mbps, and upload speeds of .25Mbps. Yes, that's a slow upload, but they're still in beta, so hopefully that will improve. The only real bug or concern I have is that during the signup process, the form didn't hide my credit card number as I typed it in.
I used the service for an hour, to fire off some tweets, browse my Instagram and Facebook feeds. I also tracked my flight in real time using FlightRadar24. Throughout my test, the connection was never lost, and I felt it was speedy enough to be productive. I look forward to the opportunity to try it again on a longer flight.