WiFi finally coming to Canadian skies? ... Flight attendant quits after 63 years
Can it be true? Is Canada about to enter the modern age of airplane travel?
An item in the Chicago Tribune yesterday said Canadian regulators have cleared in-flight Wi-Fi provider Gogo to build a network of wireless systems on Canadian airplanes.
It sounds like it's likely on some of Gogo's partners for Canada-U.S. flights. Those include United and Delta. It's not so clear what will happen with Air Canada.
Today's National Post notes that Gogo "has had a limited partnership with Air Canada since 2009 to provide Internet service on two aircraft flying between Canada and California."The Post said Gogo's plan "is to concentrate initially on existing Canadian routes operated by its U.S. and Canadian partners, including Delta Air Lines, Virgin, American United Airlines, and others. Those with knowledge of the situation say Gogo hopes to add Canadian partners, and possibly expand its deal with Air Canada.
"Whether it's on a commercial or business aircraft, passengers travelling in Canada can soon experience the same technology that has a proven track record of performance and reliability in the U.S.," said Michael Small, Gogo's chief executive.
Not so fast, I think. I asked Air Canada again today and got the same response as always. Spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said the company is "still evaluating the technology, which is changing very quickly, to ensure we make the best choice."
Fitzpatrick said a top Air Canada official recently stated that the Wi-Fi is a "medium-term project." Which means, to me, that we better not count on it any time remotely soon.
Honestly, I can't understand what the problem is. It seems crazy the technology can work on planes all over but we still don't have it here.
WestJet today sounded a more optimistic tone to my way of thinking. In an email, spokesperson Jennifer Sanford saidthe airline is reviewing technology and other in-flight entertainment issues.
"We have looked at a number of options from a number of providers. I suspect an announcement before the end of the year, although the solution won’t be onboard until 2013," she said. "As technology continues to evolve at an impressive rate, it’s about selecting an inflight solution with long-term value for our guests and for our airline."
At least WestJet is offering the promise of some kind of announcement, which is good.
Part of me is happy about no Wi-Fi in the Canadian skies, to be honest. About the only place I see movies or read a book for more than a half hour at a time these days is on a plane. I'd hate to be tied to my Blackberry at 30,000 feet....
So we'll see how this plays out. If and when it ever arrives in Canadian skies, I have no doubt we'll pay more for some reason. Labour prices? Just to generally piss us off? Both of the above?
UNITED GUY WIMPS OUT AFTER 63 YEARS IN THE AIR
Congrats to Ron Akana, a Hawaii native who has landed in the Guinness Book of World Records after 63 years as a United flight attendant.
That's a lot of bags of peanuts and pretzels to hand out, folks. Even if he only gave out 100 a day, that would potentially 500 a week. Multiply by even 40 weeks of work and that's 20,000 a year. Multiplied by 63 years that's more than 1.2 million bags.
Akana finished his career, to no one's surprise, as the longest-serving flight attendant for any U.S. carrier. He plans to retire to his current home in Colorado but spend a lot of time travelling.