Lexus will sponsor in-flight Wi-Fi on American Airlines during the first week of November, the two brands said yesterday. Passengers will be given the free access code, 2010LEXUSLS, when boarding the airline’s wireless-enabled planes to promote the manufacturer’s new car.
Lexus also gets display ads during the flights as part of an undisclosed deal, according to an American Airlines spokesperson. The banners will appear on the portal pages for the in-flight, paid-subscriber-based wireless Internet provider Gogo, which also services select routes by AirTran, Delta, and Virgin America.
American Airlines has begun implementing Wi-Fi on its fleet of Boeing 767-200s that run transcontinental routes and on some its MD-80 models. In late March, the brand said it wanted to enable more than 300 jets with wireless access by 2011.
The Lexus announcement comes on the heels of a flurry of developments for the emerging in-flight Wi-Fi ad medium. In early October, Row 44 and JiWire disclosed they were working with Southwest and Alaska Airlines to let advertisers target passengers with promos via a shopping portal called “Skytown Center.”
In May, Virgin became the first to offer Wi-Fi on its entire fleet of planes. More recently, a survey by the industry group Wi-Fi Alliance discovered that 76 percent of the 480 frequent business travelers asked would choose an airline based on the availability of in-flight Internet. More than 70 percent of those interviewed would select an airline with Wi-Fi over one that provided meal service, and 55 percent said they would change their itinerary by one day if it meant getting the in-flight service.
Overall, it appears that the days of catching business flights and being excused from working because of a lack of e-mail or Web-based communication are probably numbered. Get ready for online meetings at 30,000 feet, folks.
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