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September 2, 2014

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Steve Marcus

Las Vegas Strip casinos are viewed from the window of a Southwest Airlines passenger jet as it takes off from McCarran International Airport on Dec. 9, 2011.

People flying in and out of Las Vegas through McCarran International Airport may soon be able to watch football and baseball games live on some Southwest flights, thanks to new partnerships from the airline's satellite Wi-Fi provider.

But accessing the Internet on a plane is going to cost you, even though McCarran is one of the few airports in the nation that provide free Wi-Fi in the terminals.

So we wondered how accessible the service is and how much it costs on the other busy airlines at McCarran. It turns out we didn't have to look too hard.

While Southwest's Wi-Fi is provided by Row 44, the four other largest carriers at McCarran – Delta, United, US Airways and American – all use the same company, called Gogo, for their Internet offerings. Gogo, formerly known as Aircell, also works with Air Canada, AirTran, Frontier and Virgin America.

Since planes get moved around the country, the availability of Wi-Fi on any flight has to be confirmed by the passenger individually, often the day before the flight, so there's no guarantee you will always be able to get on the Web. But here's the basics on what airplanes are most likely to get you online:

    • Southwest Airlines

      By far the largest carrier at McCarran, Southwest is still in the process of adding Wi-Fi to its planes. About 175 of the airline's 372 737-700 jets have been equipped to provide Wi-Fi access and all the company's new jets, including larger -800 series planes, will have the system installed.

      At the moment, Internet access is $5 per one-way route, or if you are an A-List Preferred member, it is free.

    • The Delta Air Lines Boeing 757 passenger plane in this photo from 2007 at McCarran International Airport is similar to the one that made an emergency landing Sunday afternoon at McCarran when smoke was smelled in the cockpit shortly after takeoff.

      Delta Air Lines

      Delta, the second-busiest carrier at McCarran, claims to have the most Wi-Fi enabled planes in the nation. Actually it says it planes are about 50 percent of all the Wi-Fi enabled planes in the world.

      Those planes are used on nearly 3,000 daily domestic flights, carrying 400,000 customers.

      Delta's Wi-Fi prices are higher than Southwest's, but comparable to the other carriers at the airport. A 24-hour pass costs $12.95, while a monthly pass is $35 and an annual pass is $400.

    • United Airlines and Continental Airlines

      The recently-merged Continental and United combined are the third busiest carrier in Las Vegas.

      But Continental does not currently offer Wi-Fi on any of its planes, but plans to begin instillation of the necessary equipment this summer. And United only offers Wi-Fi on its premium service flights from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

    • US Airways

      The fourth-busiest carrier at McCarran, US Airways, has Wi-Fi on some of its A321 planes, with prices ranging from $5.95 to $12.95, depending on the length of flight and type of device used to access the Internet.

    • American Airlines

      American, the fifth-busiest airline at McCarran, offers Wi-Fi on all of its Boeing 767-200 aircraft and some MD80 and Boeing 737 planes.

      Each session on the Internet while on an American plane will cost you $4.95.

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