You can now use your electronic devices on planes during takeoff and landing, but don’t expect to get WiFi below 10,000 feet on most airlines.
WiFi provided by Gogo — used by American Airlines, Delta, United, US Airways and other carriers — does not work at low altitudes.
Spokesperson Steve Nolan told Business Insider the antennas on its towers are set up to beam WiFi to planes at cruising altitude, not on the ground. They could be re-engineered, he said, and Gogo is considering a change.
He added that planes don’t spend that much time below 10,000 feet — an indication that the company may hesitate to make the change.
That’s good news for Global Eagle Entertainment, a Gogo competitor. The WiFi it provides to Southwest and Allegiant uses satellite technology, and works at all altitudes. In a statement, CEO John LaValle said, “Our approach from the beginning was to have a system that works everywhere at all times, a strong differentiator for our company.”
Gogo has been more successful in the airline market so far. Its service is used on more than 6,000 planes. Global Eagle is on fewer than 500.
These are the US carriers served by Gogo, whose WiFi does not work below 10,000 feet:
- AirTran Airways
- Virgin America
- Air Canada
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- Frontier Airlines
- United Airlines
- US Airways
And these are US carriers using Global Eagle Entertainment’s WiFi, which works at all altitudes:
- Southwest Airlines
Global also offers WiFi on planes operated by Norwegian, Icelandair, Mango (South America), Transaero (Russia), and Utair (Russia).
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