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Briefs: Gogo upgrades Wi-Fi; United enhances Global First service

In news of U.S. airlines, in-flight Wi-Fi provider Gogo said it has started a major upgrade of its technology that will improve the browsing experience for customers; United Airlines' first class flyers can expect an improved sleeping experience; Delta finished a major enhancement to its 747-400s; and Alaska Airlines starts flying its first new Boeing 737 model.

  • Gogo In-flight Internet announced it has started deploying “next generation connectivity technology” called ATG-4 in the many domestic aircraft that use the service. It's already on 25 planes, with Virgin America as the first carrier to roll it out. “In addition to Delta Air Lines, US Airways and Virgin America, Gogo is expected to launch ATG-4 service on American Airlines and United's p.s. fleet in 2013,” a spokesman said. The work requires installation of new antennas, a second modem and a software upgrade. Once it is installed, ATG-4 can give in-flight Wi-Fi users a peak speed of 9.8 Mbps, the company said—more than three times the current peak speed.

  • United Airlines said it has introduced a new turn-down service for United Global First customers on its long-haul international routes. The service upgrade also includes a new sleeping cushion with a 250-thread-count outer cover, in addition to the usual plush duvet, pillows and amenity kit. “Upon request, crew members will position the cushion, duvet and pillows within the flat-bed suite for customers,” United said.

  • Installation of full flat-bed BusinessElite seats has now been finished on all 16 of Delta's 747-400s, the company said. The 747s have 48 BusinessElite seats, each with aisle access. The seating upgrade—which also includes new economy seats with personal entertainment units at each one—was already finished on the airline's 777s and 767-400s, and should be completed on 16 767-300ERs by the end of November. “The airline's entire widebody international fleet of more than 140 aircraft will receive the full aircraft modification in both cabins by the middle of 2014,” a spokesman said. Coming up next: Installation of in-flight Wi-Fi on Delta's international fleet.

  • Alaska Airlines has taken delivery of its first new Boeing 737-900ER, which it will use on transcontinental routes and on flights to Hawaii. The airline has ordered 38 of the planes, to be delivered through 2017. Alaska's 737-900ER will have 16 first class and 165 coach seats, and can fly up to 3,280 statute miles non-stop. Economy seats provide six-way adjustable headrests and three inches of recline; first class seats have five inches of recline, “an articulating seat bottom,” and six-way adjustable headrests, the company said. Meanwhile, Alaska also announced it will begin new twice-daily service April 4 between its Seattle hub and Delta's Salt Lake City hub.

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