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Delta aims Wi-Fi at American planes

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Despite a champion effort to nickel and dime its way to profitability, Delta Airlines knows there's still some loose money in customers' pockets to be won.

The US carrier sees its passengers clinging so dearly to laptops in their alloted 30 inches of space — and today vows swift action to extract yet another fee.

Delta said that by next summer it will roll out Aircell's broadband Wi-Fi access across its entire 330-strong domestic fleet. Internet access will be available in Delta's 133 MD-88/90 jets as soon as next month.

Several airline carriers such as American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Virgin America and Jet Blue have also been testing airborne wireless internet, but Delta is expected to be the first major US carrier to wholly commit to such a project.

Delta plans to offer a Wi-Fi connection for $9.95 on flights lasting three hours or less, and $12.95 in flights lasting longer.

Passengers with wireless devices will be able to access Aircell's broadband network, called GoGo, but voice services will be barred due to federal regulations.

"Our customers asked for in-flight connectivity, and we’re responding by rolling out the most extensive Wi-Fi network in the sky," said Delta CEO Richard Anderson in a statement. "Beginning this fall, our passengers will have the ability to stay connected when they travel with us throughout the continental U.S."

The service should serve as a fine complement to the practice of charging for checked luggage, food, soft drinks and bottled water, and in-flight entertainment. Conveniently, customers can't weep fat salty tears of frustration into their pillows because Delta already took those away to reduce costs. ®

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