The story is kind of a mess: While it covers a lot of the usual bases, such as "will aircraft become places you have to work during work hours," but there's a lot wrong here.
"about $10 for three hours and more for longer flights": Since there are only two prices, why not say $10 for flights under three hours, $13 for longer flights? More specific is always better in these cases.
A flight attendant union spokesperson isn't challenged after making this statement: "Ms. Caldwell said the flight attendants' union also feared that terrorists plotting a scheme on a plane could use Wi-Fi to communicate with one another on board and with conspirators on the ground."
This should have been addressed by asking an aviation security expert, not by passing it on. Terrorists (and anyone) can communicate using ad hoc Wi-Fi networks or Bluetooth on planes today above 10,000 feet. A terrorist (or anyone) could also have high-gain cellular equipment in a carry-on that would be allowed through security without a problem, and that would allow ground communication.
The notion that a controlled service with an in-air hotspot and air-to-ground communication makes it easier--maybe. I think we're unlikely to see terrorists planning an operation in which the presence of public Internet access was a given.
"The Federal Aviation Administration currently bans use of cellphones aboard planes because they may interfere with a jet’s navigation system." Really, it's because the FAA hasn't been able to run down a very small number of cases in which an effect has been alleged. It's increasingly clear that interference is unlikely, except possibly with older less-hardened aircraft avionic systems. The ban remains in place largely because there's no testing procedure, and because the FCC continues to prohibit 850 MHz PCS service. (I believe, technically speaking, the FCC doesn't restrict 1700-2100 MHz cell phone networks, but that no plane has been certified to allow such phones.)
"But Wi-Fi, as most technophiles know, offers a way around that ban, since the wireless connections can be used to tap into Skype and other programs that offer telephone service via a computer." Sure, and given that the reporter talked to Aircell, I'm not sure why the fact that Aircell actively attempts to block any VoIP or video chat from happening wasn't mentioned.
"On Delta, service is $9.95 for a flight of three hours or less, $12.95 for a longer flight." That's the case for all three airlines currently flying with Aircell's Gogo service. (Virgin America isn't mentioned here.)
"If all 150 passengers on a typical domestic flight were to buy three hours of time, that would mean an extra $1,500 or so in revenue per trip..." That's an insane number, and no one in the industry expects anything like that. A more reasonable analysis would have suggested that 5 to 15 percent of passengers might use the service, as a possible range. And the revenue doesn't go straight to the airlines, of course, which isn't mentioned here, either.
"By offering the service, airlines in the United States are catching up to many foreign carriers, like Lufthansa, which has offered the service for the past several years." Oh, spit: The reporter didn't get the memo that Lufthansa stopped offering Connexion service over two years ago when Boeing pulled the plug. This is incredibly sloppy.