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Coming soon: Email, chat, and text on flights

Recently, Alaska Airlines and Virgin America announced plans to offer Wi-Fi on flights.

Starting sometime in 2008, passengers onboard Virgin America planes will have Internet access through Wi-Fi enabled personal devices or through the in-flight entertainment system at every seat. Alaska also plans to launch its in-flight wireless Internet service in 2008. The service will function not just in flights over land, but also on routes over water and across international borders.

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After reading the news, the first words out of my mouth were, "Well, it sure beats using cell phones onboard." Because while I (really) don't want to spend an entire flight trapped next to someone yakking on their phone, I'm perfectly content to share an arm rest with someone text messaging or working on a laptop.

The only thing that worries me is the price. I haven't yet found a mention of how much either airline intends to charge, and I suspect it's not because it will be free. But this is one instance in which I'd love to be wrong.

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