In-flight Internet access starts next week

SAN JOSE, CALIF. -- JetBlue Airways plans to start testing Tuesday free e-mail and IM service on one of its airplanes. In the coming months, American Airlines, Virgin America and Alaska Airlines will offer Internet access for a fee -- probably $10 per flight.

Airlines have finally gotten the message that we passengers are fed up with being denied Internet access while aloft.

In all cases, airlines will keep Internet access off on the ground, and during ascent and descent phases of flight, and turn it on while at cruising altitude, according to an article that will appear in tomorrow's New York Times.

Virgin plans to enable passengers to use the airline's seatback entertainment systems for sending e-mail.

Other airlines, including American, plan to essentially turn on Wi-Fi, so anyone with a Wi-Fi enabled laptop or device (like an iPhone) can use the connection if they pay the fee.

Airlines haven't publicly announced whether they will allow passengers to make VoIP calls over the connection.

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