Earlier this week in Newark-Liberty International Airport, I spotted an Airbus A320 with a big dome on its fuselage near the tail. I instagrammed a picture hinting that it must have WiFi and sure enough it did. I figured at some point I’d get to fly a United Wifi equipped airplane.
As I boarded an Airbus A319 on Thursday morning as UA795 from Atlanta to Houston, I was even more excited to see that the side of the airplane had the word “WiFi” on it. “This was going to be a great flight,” I mused.
I said hello to the flight attendants at the entry door adding that I’m told there’s complimentary Wifi on this flight. She added that there is United WiFi, but its not complimentary, smiling as she did so.
I went to my seat, got settled in and opened up my laptop. I looked for the signal, but instead, I got the gogo wifi from the Delta airplanes nearby. I looked in the Hemisphere magazine, but got no additional information.
We pushed back and headed for the runway and was airborne in what seemed like forever. Apparently, it was busy time in ATL, but being the aviation geek, I loved it! As soon as we hit 10,000′, I opened up the computer and saw the United WiFi and connected to it; yeah! The flight attendant said that we could turn on our electronic equipment, but place them in airplane mode which was funny to hear since in that mode I could not use the Wifi feature. I guess they need to modify the announcement just slightly.
It took a while to connect, about 11.5 minutes, but finally I connected and saw that it was $6.99 for standard speed and $10.99 for 3x the standard speed. I chose the cheaper option and after a few tries was charged and connected.
I was asked to sign in using my MileagePlus number or create a guest account, but I was disappointed that I still had to enter a new credit card when I already have one in My MileagePlus Account. I hope these two systems are integrated in the future so that when you sign in using your MileagePlus number, you are able to use more than one device by just signing in again.
I started communicating with my friends on Facebook and checking e-mail, but it was all so slow. The lady across the aisle was having issues logging in with her iPad, so I gave her a hand. She was already connected, but there was no start screen, so I brought up a Safari window and typed in cnn.com and then the United WiFi home page came up. Now she was all sorted out. I then explained how it worked to her and the Flight Attendant who was passing by at the moment and had been attentive to our needs throughout the entire process of signing in.
The service allows you to see united.com for free as well as see where you are, and how fast you were going; a nice touch.
One of my facebook friends as me to run a speed test, so I obliged. After two tries, I got it to work. Apparently my connection was not very fast. At the same moment, another friend was flying on American and sent me his speed test (25mb download and 6mb upload). It was much faster than my connection. It was funny as other friends were also sending their Internet networks’ speed test results as well.
As advertised, I was able to sign into another device. I signed into my iPad, which immediately signed me out of my MacBook. I was able to use the iPad without any issues. As I was running out of power on the MacBook, I could not sign back in. I think in-seat power should be added to these planes when they do the Wifi installation.
My flight time was 2:02, but between takeoff and climb, connecting and the descent, I may have had only about an hour of surfing time if that much. Not sure if that was worth my $6.99 considering that the speed was so slow and I got very little accomplished, except to test the service.
Have you tried the new Wifi from United? What are your thoughts? Please leave a comment below.