by Mike Masnick

United Making The Airfone Mistake All Over Again

from the noooooo,-don't-do-it... dept

As excited as I am by the idea of internet access in the air, the one big question I've been afraid to find out the answer on is just how extortionary the prices were going to be. Now, we know the answer. United is getting ready to launch an in-flight email service on all domestic flights. They don't seem to have learned a damn thing from the amazing failure of the "airfone". The problem there was that except in the most dire of circumstances, most people aren't willing to spend $3/minute to make a phone call when they can just wait until they're on the ground and can use their mobile phone. So, what is United doing? They're charging even more ridiculously high fees for email in the air. It's $16 just to get connected. Every kilobyte over the first 2 (wow, how generous) costs an additional 10 cents. Do the math here. In the last hour alone (and hardly at peak times) I've received over 150k of email. That would add an extra $15 to my bill (not including any of the five emails I just sent out - another 30k or so). Just imagine the fees when a colleague sends you a 4 meg PowerPoint presentation for you to review on your flight. Also, think of just how much each of those spams is now costing you directly. Sure, maybe they'll find a few suckers with really open expense accounts, but the vast majority of people are going to say no thanks, and continue to sneak their emails in using their Blackberries or Danger devices.

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  • identicon
    Glenn, 17 Jun 2003 @ 7:19am

    No Subject Given

    What? More technology related airline news? ... I do think it's bit short sighted of United. They had two choices here. First, they could take out those airfones and install a broadband internet service, and find a reasonable pricing point.

    But this would require several upfront costs, which would likely have to be approved by their
    Board. So instead, with no investment, they could launch this new service. I agree with Mike that the pricing won't encourage a lot of use. But at the same time, you have to respect the fact that this is costing a bankrupt carrier virtually zero dollars, with some revenue upside, and some free promotional value. It's definitely not the worst decision they've made.

    But it could be short sighted if it generates nothing but bad vibes from those that could use a service like this, but who are looking for a more compelling offering.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2003 @ 6:47pm

    warning: communist overtones

    When is the US going to nationalize the Airlines?

    They're all obviously mostly incompetent. They need bailed out every couple of years because they're bankrupt. Just nationalize and get it over with-- at least then the officers of the companies won't be siphoning off tens of millions-- we'll just be paying a bunch of bureaucrats 200-500k salaries. Much cheaper.

    Plus then the country can actually start putting some money into the rail lines. (the airlines have received more money in the last 2 years than Amtrak has in the last ten-- and who is scpe goat for government over-spending?)

    My fellow countrymen-- you are a bunch of suckers.

    If the arilines are so godamned important, why can so few of them survive?

    If capitalism is so holy, why don't we let bad companies die?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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