Outlook Good for Free Wifi on Trains, Planes

The price of connectivity looks poised to plummet to zero as planes and trains experiment with offering free onboard wifi. So far, airlines have charged for hopping on the web, usually connected to the length of the flight. Costs range from a few bucks to over $10 a pop, and adoption has been on the slow side. Perhaps people are reluctant to let go of their last vestige of disconnection while in flight, or they just don’t want to pay another damn fee; whatever the reason, airlines are now trying to woo passengers by offering wifi as a free perk. We already told you that Virgin America and Google have a special holiday deal running from mid-November through January 15, but more airlines are following suit.

American Airlines has teamed up with Lexus to offer free wifi for a week on all its flights now through November 7th (code: 2010LEXUSLS), and AirTran has a BOGO deal going, which isn’t exactly free, but it still counts as free-ish. Amtrak is the real game changer, as it recently announced that all its fast Acela trains will feature free wifi by 2010, which finally might make the trains a better option than a flight. With airlines testing the free-wifi waters, and Amtrak going balls-to-the-wall free, charging for net access may soon go the same route to extinction as the pay-per-view in-flight movie.

Mark Malkoff: Frigthened Flyer or Canny Marketroid?

imageMark Malkoff is scared of flying. And because he’s really committed to conquering his fears, he has committed to living on AirTran for a good 30 days, never stepping foot into the airport, but instead changing planes via the tarmac, and even showering inside the tiny plane bathrooms. The 33-year-old comedian and filmmaker is documenting everything that he’s doing on his site, Mark On AirTran, and of course you can Facebook him, check him out on Flickr, and follow him on Twitter. Currently he is just rounding the corner on half of his stay, and according to Twitter is “trying to drink as much water and tea as possible.” He’s logged in 57,646 miles so far, and he’s got plenty to go.

There’s no word on what he’s eating, though he did mention a special delivery of popcorn and a veggie sandwich from the crew in Midway. Let’s hope that’s the rule rather than the exception because AirTran isn’t known for amazing in-flight meals. Though he flies every day (and sleeps alone in the plane at night) his wife, Christine, joins him on the weekends to fly wherever he’s headed. Mr. Malkoff has pulled similar stunts, such as the “Mark Lives in IKEA” project, where he lived in an IKEA store for 30 days; and the “171 Starbucks” project where he visited 171 Manhattan Starbucks in one day. Considering his previous projects, and the all too easy switching of the planes on the tarmac, one assumes he’s getting properly compensated by AirTrain for the publicity stunt. But hey, at least he’s getting over his (alleged) fear of flying.