Wifi Update: United Airlines says it is moving quickly to install in-flight internet

For some reason, United Airlines management did not see the value in in-flight internet until recently. But the Chicago-based carrier is catching up. 

United Airlines is quickly installing wifi. Photo: United Airlines.

United Airlines is quickly installing wifi. Photo: United Airlines.

On United's third quarter earnings conference call, CEO Jeff Smisek detailed the carrier's connectivity progress.  Here's what he said:

  • United now has wifi on half of its roughly 700 mainline airplanes
  • 200 of those aircraft now have streaming entertainment. Essentially that means you can watch airline-owned movies and TV shows on your own laptops and tablets. 
  • By the end of the year, 2/3 of United's mainline aircraft will have wifi. 
  • The next project is to equip all of United's larger regional jets -- the ones with first class -- with wifi. 

I'm not sure why United (and its merger partner Continental) did not see what American and Delta knew about four years ago -- that passengers must be connected all the time. Perhaps executives were too enamored by the live television product, an option that is looking increasingly antiquated. Or maybe it was just too expensive. 

Here's United's current Wifi progress, which you can find on its website. 

Have you used United's wifi? What do you think of the product?