@Altitude

Empowering people to be creative and productive in-flight.

Services & Technology — Wi-Fi, Television & Phone

What Services Are Available?

Many of us remember the days when “in-flight entertainment” meant cracking open a good book, watching a movie on a small screen above the aisle, or simply counting sheep. Those days are long gone. Now, you can surf the Web, check your email, text your friends, watch live TV and, last but not least, call your mom – all from the comfort of your seat zooming along at 30,000 feet*.

Today’s in-flight connectivity services bring the experiences you enjoy every single day right to your laptop, tablet or smartphone when you fly. In a nutshell, these services make it easy to connect, communicate and discover a world of new experiences when you travel.

Let’s take a quick look at the services that are defining in-flight connectivity today.

Wi-Fi

Say goodbye to the days of feeling “disconnected” from the world when you fly. With a robust, high-speed Internet link, you can now connect to your online world using your laptop, smartphone, or tablet. It’s like having a super-fast Wi-Fi hotspot right at your seat.
icon-laptop

  • Keep in touch with friends and family via email, video conferencing or online chat – even at 30,000 feet!
  • Surf the Web, watch videos, stream music, and hit all your favorite social media spots.
  • Send and receive email – even with large attachments – so you can stay productive.
  • Get real-time news and sports scores during your flight – not just when you land.

Television

Never miss your favorite newscast or the big game again! Today’s in-flight entertainment delivers a variety of live broadcasts – including sports, business, and news – right to your seatback monitor, laptop, or mobile device. Now you can watch live sporting events and breaking news at the same time as your friends on the ground.
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  • Catch the big game live during your flight and watch the highlights unfold in real time.
  • Stay current with live newscasts from global, national and regional news stations all over the world.
  • Tune in to live business broadcasts so you can keep up with the speed of business.

Find out which channels are currently available: Channel Listings »

Phone

Many airlines also offer in-flight GSM/phone services that give you the power to use your personal phone, smartphone, or enabled tablet just as you would on the ground. While voice services are available in most regions across the globe, some airlines offer only limited service as an option. Today, they are being considered by the Federal Communications Commission for use in the United States.

In-flight GSM services operate over various satellite technologies, and may be available even if Wi-Fi is not. Passengers simply switch on their personal device which automatically connects directly to the on-board mobile phone network.

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  • Share your in-flight experience with friends via text and picture messages.
  • Reach out to business colleagues so you can make the most of your time in the air.
  • Make calls to anyone just as you would on the ground – no upfront payment or registration required!
  • Remain “reachable” for loved ones in the event of an emergency back home.

*All in-flight connectivity services will only be available when the aircraft is at cruising altitude to comply with takeoff and landing regulations set forth by regional governing agencies.

How Does It Work?

So, what makes such advanced connectivity possible on an aircraft zooming across the sky at more than 600 miles per hour and 30,000 feet above the earth? Surprisingly, it’s really not as complicated as you might think.

To bring connectivity services to each passenger, commercial planes need to first establish a connection to an Internet source. This is done using either a satellite or air-to-ground network. Once a connection is made with a given source (satellite or ground-based unit), connectivity can be delivered to passengers via seat back systems, Wi-Fi hotspots and wireless phone signals.

Satellite


Unlike air-to-ground networks, satellite networks can provide the aircraft with connectivity anywhere around the globe – over land or over water. This makes it possible for passengers to enjoy complete connectivity on all their wireless devices, and even stream live TV during transcontinental and other long-haul flights.

A small satellite antenna located on the top of the plane’s fuselage communicates with a satellite in orbit above the earth. That satellite, which maintains a constant connection with a ground station, acts as a bridge to supply the plane with a live link to the Internet. As the plane moves along its defined route, the nearest satellite in orbit supplies the connection to the plane.

Satellite networks transmit data at different frequency bands, with the amount of available bandwidth increasing along with the frequency. The two common bandwidths used for in-flight connectivity today are L-band and Ku-band. L-band – sometimes referred to as narrowband – operates at a frequency bandwidth between 1-2 GHz, and has only 30 MHz allocated for use. Comparatively, Ku-band networks utilize 500 MHz of frequency bandwidth between 11-14.5 GHz. Another broadband network in development for in-flight connectivity in coming years is Ka-band, with a frequency range of 19-31 GHz and 500 MHz allocated for use. Both narrowband and broadband networks are capable of providing global satellite coverage.

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Air-to-Ground


When flying over land, planes can connect directly to ground-based cellular networks, which transform commercial aircraft into flying hotspots that allow passengers to enjoy full connectivity to the web, messaging or email. An antenna located on the bottom of the plane transmits and receives signals to and from towers on the ground (low-power ground transceivers). As the plane moves along its land route, the signal is supplied by the nearest signal source on the ground. When flying over water, however, planes are beyond the reach of these networks.

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Airlines currently providing in-flight connectivity:

The following list includes airlines that currently offer in-flight connectivity. Please note that this list has been compiled based on information available in the public domain and is provided solely as a general reference.

It is not intended to imply any specific affiliations of airlines or solution providers.  This list will be updated as more carriers announce the availability of these services. To find out what specific services are offered by a particular airline, including which aircraft are equipped and associated service pricing, please visit the carrier’s Web site.

Broadband Satellite
Aer Lingus Etihad Airways Norwegian Air Shuttle
Aeroméxico Eurowings Qantas
Air Austral EVA Air Qatar Airways
Air Berlin Finnair RwandAir
Air Europa Garuda Indonesia SAS
Air France Hainan Airlines Scoot
Air Serbia Iberia Singapore Airlines
Air Seychelles Icelandair Southwest Airlines
Alitalia Japan Airlines SWISS
All Nippon Airways jetBlue Thai Airways
American Airlines KLM Turkish Airlines
Asiana Airlines Level United Airlines
Cathay Pacific Lufthansa Virgin Atlantic
China Airlines Malindo Air WestJet
China Eastern Airlines Mango Xiamen Air
Delta Niki
Emirates Nok Air
Narrowband Satellite
Aeroflot Etihad Airways Royal Jordanian Airlines
AirAsia Hong Kong Airlines Saudi Arabian Airlines
All Nippon Airways Iberia Singapore Airlines
British Airways Malaysia Airlines SriLankan Airlines
Cebu Pacific Air Oman Air TAM Airlines
Egyptair Philippine Airlines Thai Airways
Emirates Qatar Airways Virgin Atlantic
Air-to-Ground
Air Canada American Airlines United Airlines
Alaska Airlines Delta Virgin America