Internet in the air is here -- but at a price

November 27 2013: Finally it seems, airlines will allow passengers to surf the Internet "from gate to gate" that is from take off to landing. The US Federal Aviation Authority put out new guidelines permitting WiFi in civil airplanes on October 31 -- and this week a few US airlines -- Delta, SouthWest -- started invoking the relaxed rules  and carried the sign that you see in our  illustration.

You still can't make cellular telephone calls while in flight -- but you can log on to the WiFi that the plane provides for surfing, online games etc -- albeit at a cost. When we checked at airline sites,   passengers needed to buy coupons or  vouchers that ranged from  $ 4.95 to $ 19.95 for mobile devices like smart phones or tablets   and  $ 11 to $49 for laptops and notebooks ( hint -- put away the keyboard if you have one for the tablet -- or they's charge for a notebook!)

The asking price depends on the length of the flight -- in the US you can buy vouchers that are good for multiple flights over a week or so   -- or for multiple devices.  Typically they seem to be charging around $ 5 per hour of usage minimum....  so clearly nobody's going to be surfing for free at least not immediately.

We have not heard of any carriers touching  India  offering the service but it is only a matter of time -- on international routes anyway. Emirates does it but  only in the Airbus 380.

Here is a link to a CNET piece on the subject.