Gate to gate wi-fi is taking off in the UK and Europe. This means that a passenger can now switch on their device and enjoy inflight wi-fi on your flight before during and after take-off. The system has been certified safe for use at all phases of flight.
Icelandair is first to offer this with service and support from Global Eagle Entertainment (GEE). The technology behind it is ku band satcoms broadband on/off the aircraft. For the customer flying on Icelandair they will be able to get online, send and receive emails and use Social Media. The price depends on the flight length and destination but starts at £4.60 (6 Euros) per flight. The wi-fi is free of charge on flights booked by Saga Class members for up to two devices at a time.
Starting this week Icelandair passengers can use the service to/from 5 UK airports, with a sixth starting on 9th March.
In the UK, few airlines offer inflight wi-fi. British Airways offers it onboard its London City-New York shuttle. Virgin Atlantic offers it on transatlantic flights. However they do not allow passengers to use it prior to take-off or during climbing and landing. That is because there are regulations in place from the UK CAA and within Europe (EASA) to ensure safety during critical phases of flight.
The trend towards inflight wi-fi is beginning to change however. There are plans for a large system network (European Aviation Network) in Europe that will allow many airlines to offer inflight wi-fi on short, medium and long-haul flights.