Most people who travel today carry some kind of electronic device with them as they board the plane. I am no exception. When flying with my family I often take a portable DVD player to keep the kids entertained. And when flying for business, I will take my laptop so that I can catch up on work.

But the days of only being able to use your computer to create, read and edit documents are coming to an end; with most U.S. airlines now embracing Wi-Fi on some (or all) of their planes. Plus it seems that the in-flight rules surrounding portable electronic devices may also be relaxed in the future.

This is pretty neat – especially for folks, like me, who feel cut-off when they don’t have access to email or the Internet.

And based on our recent Fly.com Connectivity Survey, it would appear that many of you would agree:

80%

Want the option to connect to the Internet during their flight

65%

Think it is important that airlines offer Internet access on flights

36%

Would take advantage of Internet access to find information and deals relating to their destination

26%

Would use wireless Internet to catch up on emails

* Fly.com Connectivity Survey (based on the responses of 500 American travelers), September 2012

Airlines with Onboard Wi-Fi

But are you guaranteed Wi-Fi on your next flight? The simple answer is “no”. Some airlines are further along in their wireless strategies than others. So, if you want to know if your flight has wireless, keep an eye out for the Wi-Fi symbols and signage as you board your aircraft. Alternatively, some airlines like American Airlines let you check this type of information within 24 hours of your departure.

However, even though Fly.com’s latest survey revealed an overwhelming desire for Internet access to be included as part of the fare price (48% of respondents indicated they would only pay $10 or less, and a further 49% said they would pay nothing at all), you should still expect to pay for Wi-Fi service. So keep the following fees in mind when you book your next cheap flight.

Airline Laptop Charge Handheld Charge
Alaska Airlines $14.95 Same
American Airlines Up to $17.95 per flight Up to $9.95 per flight
Delta $12 per day Same
Southwest Airlines $5 per day Same
US Airways $24.95 per day Same
Virgin America $17.95 (flights over 3 hours) $7.95 (flights over 1.5 hours)

Comment on this post during your next flight and let us know how it works. Happy travels!

Featured image: Laptop on Airplane (Shutterstock.com)

Posted by

Michelle is director of public relations for Fly.com. A British native, Michelle has lived on three continents but, more importantly, she is an avid traveler. She is also an adventure enthusiast and her travels have included bungee jumping off Victoria Falls, kayaking to see brown bears (Alaska), surfing in Costa Rica, driving cattle in Wyoming, stunt flying in Hawaii, and swimming with sharks in Bora Bora.

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